|Tri-County tracksters bring back State medals|
|Sunday, June 08, 2014 8:00 PM|
COLUMBUS — The near-perfect track and field weather continued Saturday morning and afternoon at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University.
The local Tri-County athletes also continued to bring back their share of medals as eight individuals or relays earned top-8 finishes.
In Division III, the best of those performers was the Crestview 4x100-meter relay of sophomore Sage Schaffner, juniors Malcolm Oliver and Zach Jellison and sophomore Isaiah Kline turned a third-place timing of 43.86.
“We broke our personal record again. We all just ran as fast as we could,” Kline began. “We’re just so happy. I couldn’t have a better group of guys to run with; we’re almost like a family.”
“This has been such a great year for Crestview boys athletics. We started in the fall by going farther in football than we ever had,” Jellison continued. “We won State in basketball and then had two relays and an individual make it to State in track and our baseball team was in the State semis.”
“We talked about this being our last race this year with these four guys and we wanted to make it our best. We did that,” Schaffner chimed in. “Everything clicked today. We work so well together and it’s exciting to run our best race in the finals.”
Oliver figured that things will change for this foursome next year but it’s up to them what that means.
“We’re all back, so the bull’s-eye will be on us. We worked hard this year to get to this point; we took nothing for granted all season,” he added. “We have to work just as hard, if not harder, next year and listen even more to our coaches. We can’t take getting back here for granted, either.”
Their junior teammate, Mycah Grandstaff, broke his personal record by almost five seconds (9:31.57, breaking his previous 9:36.38) in grabbing third in the boys 3,200-meter run.
He knew who his main competition would be going into the finals.
“I knew coming in Bobby Johnson was the defending State Cross Country champion and he was going to be strong. I knew I’d have to run the race of my life to beat him,” he explained. “I broke my PR by almost five seconds, so I’m pleased with that. I tried to stay with him the first few laps, even passing him at one time to see how he’d react. He kicked it in after that and I couldn’t stay with him. I try to run at a pace that is comfortable to me but he forces you to be uncomfortable at times. I wasn’t used to being behind runners this year.”
The way he finished — and the fact he is only a junior — gives Grandstaff confidence for next year.
“I was fighting it out for third with a couple of others guys and had a better finishing kick. I didn’t have that kick before this year,” he added. “The two guys ahead of me are both seniors, so they won’t be around next year. Still, I take nothing for granted. I know I have to work hard to give myself a chance to get back here and maybe win it. I’m going to let my knee fully heal — I hurt it during cross country in the fall and it’s more bothersome than anything. Then I’ll start getting ready for cross country.”
Lincolnview junior Bayley Tow secured sixth place in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:24.61.
“I had a good week of practice and stayed fresh. I rely on God the whole time; that helps me stay calm and poised during a race, especially today,” Tow explained. “It keeps my focus where it should be. I try to run a consistent and steady race, to stay within myself and not try to get out of my comfort zone.”
Tow gave credit to his coaches and their philosophy as to his success.
“Coach (Matt) Langdon talks to us all the time, especially early on in the season, as to what our focus is on; to be peaking at this time of year. He tells us to trust the training, that all the hard work we do is for now,” he added. “We had three make it down here to State and Hannah (McCleery) made the podium in the girls high jump. That’s a good sign for our track program. The good thing is we’re both juniors and we know we have another chance to get back here and hopefully finish higher.
“For me, track begins in the fall in cross country, putting in the miles and getting in prime shape. I don’t play basketball or wrestle, so I can focus on my running.”
Columbus Grove had people in three events competing Saturday.
And it was a good day for the Bulldog athletes as all three events made it to the podium.
The Lady Bulldogs had both of their relays competing place, while Bryce Sharrits made it in the 800-meter run.
Columbus Grove’s girls team capped off a successful state meet as they finished sixth in the 4x200 relay with a time of 1:45.45. Running this event for the Bulldogs were Raiya Flores, Kristin Wynn, Sydney McCluer and Julia Wynn. The time was nearly a second quicker than what they qualified to the finals in on Friday.
Later in the meet, Flores, Julia Wynn and McCluer returned to the track with Linnea Stephens and finished seventh in the 4x100 relay in 50.47.
“It helped that, unfortunately, Sydney wasn’t in the hurdles and that kind of helped us because we had more legs than if we had to run other events,” the group’s lone senior, Julia Wynn said. “State is so hard because you have two straight days where you have to run back-to-back and you normally don’t have that. I was proud of our performances. Our 4x1 is normally our stronger event but we came out and had a personal record in the 4x2 and that was great.”
“This is such an experience because we came down here last year and I was glad to get back down here this year and make it on the podium twice,” McCluer said. “It really doesn’t get much better than this, running with these girls. They are such great supporters, very encouraging and I loved it.”
The Lady Bulldogs finished the meet with 12 points having scored in four events. Lyne’a Diller placed in the shot put Friday and Megan Verhoff placed in the discus.
Sharrits also made two trips to the podium this weekend as he was a member of the Bulldog boys 4x800 relay team that placed Friday morning, then returned Saturday morning after a sixth-place finish in the 800-meter run. Sharrits ran a 1:57.88 to finish sixth, which was a PR for him after having run a 1:58.57 in the regionals.
Sharrits was happy to make the podium after getting boxed in early in the race.
“I didn’t know if I was going to make it (to the podium),” Sharrits, a junior, said. “I got boxed in by the other runner in my lane and I had to follow him until we cut in. I was able to get up with the lead pack and tried to make a move in the final 200 meters, but there are a lot of great runners here. I was happy to finish sixth and make the podium. It gives me a lot to look forward to next season.”
In Division II, Van Wert junior Alexis Dowdy tossed the shot put 42-3 1/4 for fourth place.
“I was fifth after the prelims, so I moved up a spot in the finals. I’m pleased with that,” she said. “I’m happy I made the podium. It wasn’t like last year; I didn’t even get out of Districts and this year I earn fourth at State. I really give credit to my coaches; they’ve helped me improve so much.”
She explained her thought process during a throw.
“When my back is to the field and I’m getting ready to throw, I envision what I‘m supposed to do,” she added. “I envision a high bar, like for the high jump, at 10 feet, with my throw clearing that for maximum distance. I think about my footwork, I see my foot turning and then my body turning, getting my hips under me and following through on the throw. Then I try to execute that physically.”
Van Wert junior Nick Krugh ran a 22.53 to nab seventh in the boys 200-meter dash.
“I didn’t set my PR but I don’t think anyone ran their best time today. I think we were all a little nervous; we did not want to get disqualified for a false start, so we didn’t get off quickly like normal,” Krugh said. “Still, I went in with the eighth-best time from the semifinals and moved up a notch, so that’s good.”
Just being at Owens Stadium and making the podium is quite a treat for Krugh.
He’d like to do it again as a senior.
“I made it down here in two events: this and the 4x4. We’ve got a lot of young guys in track and we had a great season,” Krugh added. “Outside of one or two, we are all back.
“For me, I play football but I’m a receiver, so that helps me work on my speed. I don’t play basketball, so I’m thinking of indoor track.”
Also competing but not earning a podium finish was St. John’s junior Tyler Conley, 11th in the boys 800 run (2:00.30).
As well, Elida sophomore Tori Bowen finished 12th in the Division II girls pole vault.