BATH TOWNSHIP — Heading into this season, it had been 35 years since the Ottawa-Glandorf boys track-and-field team won the Western Buckeye League title.
For the past three seasons, O-G has taken home the runner-up trophy.
The 35-year drought finally ended for the Titans.
At Friday’s finals of the WBL Track and Field Championships at Bath, O-G displayed balance in the field events and on the track en route to its first team title in more than three decades.
The Titans ended the two-day meet with a final score of 103. Van Wert was a close second place (94), Celina was third (77.5) and Elida was fourth (65) in the 10-team field.
On the girls’ side, Celina defeated O-G 116-79 to win the title. Shawnee was a close third (73), while St. Marys finished fourth (56).
The O-G boys started off on Wednesday by winning the 3,200-meter relay in an impressive time of 8 minutes, 6.2 seconds. The team was made up of Colt Haselman, Brad Recker, Jacob Leopold and Matias Trampe-Kindt.
On Friday, the Titans were balanced, scoring in most events. Trampe-Kindt scored big points, finishing second in the 1,600 (4:23.76) and fourth in the 3,200 (10:17.32).
For longtime O-G boys coach Rick Hughes, winning the WBL title was extra special because of the emotional week the Ottawa community endured with the death of two students.
“Our kids overcame some great adversity this week. The kids overcame it and they did a great job with it,” an emotional Hughes said. “It’s been 35 years. I was a junior in high school the last time Ottawa-Glandorf won a WBL championship. We started out at the beginning of the year with a secret motto; we called it ‘The Project.’ And we carried it with us all season.
“I can’t give enough credit, first of all, to my coaches — Steve Bruskotter in the jumping events and Brian Heebsh in the throwing events — because our field events have been really solid for us the entire year. We scored 39 points in the league meet (in the field events) and this league is about as tough as any league around.”
In the distance events, Van Wert senior Jared Fleming took the spotlight.
In the 1,600, Fleming led a fast field of runners around the track en route to a WBL record-time of 4:22.16. Then a little later, the Kent State-bound Fleming broke the league meet record in the 800, winning in 1:57.12. Fleming, who won last year’s Division II state title in the 800, pulled away from O-G’s Leopold down the stretch for the victory. Leopold finished in 1:59.23.
“It’s a really tough double, doing the 16 (1,600) and 8 (800), especially with that 1,600-meter field,” Fleming said. “Everyone was so competitive. I set the meet record and it was still a one-second win.
“Then, to turn around and run the 800 — another competitive field with Leopold and Nate Wichman (Defiance, third). Those are two top-notch guys who can go to state in the 800 with me this year.”
The Celina girls squad was solid in both the field events and on the track. The Bulldogs won the WBL crown last season. In the past 38 seasons in the WBL, Celina has won the league title 23 times — tops among all WBL schools.
“From last year’s team, we lost six seniors,” Celina coach Dan Otten said. “You had to think, what can we do next? This year we started out with five veteran girls and we only brought 12 here. The girls who were expected to do well, took care of business. And then we also had some nice surprises.”
Bath standout sprinter Jocelyn Ayers took first in both the 100 (12.89 seconds) and 200 (25.59). Last season, Ayers went to the Division II state meet in the 100, 200 and 400.
“I’m so excited (about the 200), I PR’d,” Ayers said. “This is my favorite event. I’m so happy to get a back-to-back (WBL) title.”