CONVOY — Heading into the Northwest Conference Track and Field Championships, it looked like it could be a battle for the team titles.
However, it didn’t quite play out that way at Saturday’s finals at Crestview.
The Spencerville girls made it three consecutive NWC championships as they defeated second-place Bluffton 163.5-113. Columbus Grove finished third (87), while Delphos Jefferson was fourth (69.5).
On the boys’ side, Columbus Grove pulled away from the pack, finishing the meet with 140 points, compared to second-place Spencerville’s 85. Bluffton was a close third (82.5), while Crestview was fourth (74). There were 10 schools in the meet.
“We worked really hard in each event to get that team aspect,” Spencerville coach Bruce McConnell said. “We had a lot of girls come through. They’ve worked hard and we have some very good individuals on our team.
“Basically, the girls who have run cross country have a very strong base. So we did very well in the mile, half-mile and two-mile. We scored well in every event. Kelli (Ley) won the 400 and 200 and Kacie Mulholland was right there with her (second in the 200, 26.93). The only downer was that Cortney Miller had some sore legs and didn’t get to run in the end there (1,600-meter relay). I think with our tradition over the years, they know what to expect and they come through.”
McConnell said it will get even more competitive after this weekend when they compete in the Division III district tournament on Thursday and Saturday at Spencerville.
“We hit the meet grinder next Thursday. If you get out of the district then you’ve got good sailing right on down, because our district will be the toughest in the state for the girls,” McConnell said.
Ley, who finished second at last year’s Division III state meet in the 400, won both the 200 (26.81) and 400 (58.66) on Saturday. She said it wasn’t too difficult for her to come back after the 400 and compete in the 200.
“You just got to jog after it and refresh the legs. But, after that it’s just all out,” Ley said.
Columbus Grove boys coach Chris Grothaus was pleased with his team’s performance. He said scoring well in the field events on Thursday, definitely set the table for Saturday.
“Thursday helps. We got 62, 64 (points), and got a few surprises there. So, we felt confident (coming into Saturday’s finals). When you have good distance kids, you’re not talking tenths of seconds, like in sprints where you can go from first to sixth. Our distance kids have been consistent all year,” Grothaus said.
On Thursday, Columbus Grove took 1-2 in the pole vault as defending Division III state champion Tyler Wolfe and teammate Collin Grothaus finished in the top two spots, respectively, both clearing 14 feet. In the discus on Thursday, Columbus Grove’s Dakota Vogt and Trevor Schroeder finished 1-2. Vogt won with a toss of 156-11, while Schroeder’s best was 150-3.
On Saturday, Columbus Grove’s Jake Graham and Alex Shafer finished 1-2 in the 3,200. Graham won in 10:16.18, while Shafer was close behind in 10:17.42.
Last week, the Columbus Grove boys team won the Putnam County League title as well.
Bluffton’s Hannah Chappell-Dick attempted to pull off a very tough quadruple on Saturday. The senior standout first won the 1,600 in a time of 5:32.26. Then, just moments later, she came back to break the NWC record in the 800, winning in 2:15.91. Then, Chappell-Dick competed in the 3,200, where she was forced to drop out because of apparent dehydration. However, after a little bit of recovery time, she then joined her 1,600 relay team and helped them win in 4:09.99.
Chappell-Dick said she expended so much effort in the 800, that it was tough to come back and run well in the 3,200. On Saturday, Chappell-Dick broke Ann Stechschulte’s record that was set in 1997. Ann Stechschulte (Alyanak), a 1997 Bluffton graduate, is a very accomplished marathoner.
“If I would have known how far under (the record-time pace) I was, then I probably would have held back a little bit,” she said with a grin. “It feels really good, because I’ve tried to beat some of Ann’s records in a few other meets.”
Lima Central Catholic standout MyKale Rogers had a solid NWC meet. Rogers won the long jump with a mark of 22 feet, 4 1/2 inches. On the track, he won the 200 (23.18). He also was the anchor leg for the winning 400 relay (Jon Washington, Lee Stewart and Jamir Coleman) that broke the meet record in 43.83. Rogers also was on the 800 relay that was disqualified for being out of the hand-off zone on Saturday.
Spencerville, Grove win NWC titles