SPENCERVILLE — Track teams that can score in both field events and on the track are going to be difficult to beat.
At Saturday’s finals of the Northwest Conference Track and Field Championships at Spencerville, both the Columbus Grove boys team and the Spencerville girls squad were solid on and off the track en route to NWC titles.
In the boys competition, Columbus Grove slipped past Lima Central Catholic for the title, 127-108. Spencerville finished third (89.5), while Ada was fourth (79). There were 10 teams at the meet.
On the girls side, Spencerville defeated second-place Columbus Grove 166-116. Bluffton finished third (78), while Lincolnview was fourth (54.5).
The Columbus Grove boys scored well in the distance events on Saturday.
In the 1,600, Columbus Grove senior Jake Graham broke the stadium record, winning in 4 minutes, 27.57 seconds. Lincolnview’s Bayley Tow was close behind in 4:31.54.
Later on, Graham came back and finished second in the 800, crossing the finish line in 2:02.58. LCC’s Scott Willike led from the start and held on for the win in 2:00.80. Graham’s teammate, Alex Giesege, finished sixth in 2:07.69, to pick up three more points for the Bulldogs.
In the 3,200, Columbus Grove picked up 13 points as Alex Shafer finished second (10:08.83) and teammate Colton Grothaus was fifth (10:12.90). Tow won the 3,200 in 10:02.43.
“Earlier in the week, we planned on just Colton and Alex, running the two-mile (3,200),” Graham said. “So, I wanted to get a good mile (1,600) time because it probably would be the last time I run it this year. I didn’t get out fast enough. …It wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be. I got boxed in a little bit. …Then, toward the end I got into the lead pack and started to pull away.”
In the field events, Columbus Grove was strong in the throws and the pole vault. In the discus, Dakota Vogt won with a toss of 167-06. Teammate Trevor Schroeder was fourth (138-05). In the shot put, Schroeder took first with a mark of 48-3.
In the pole vault on Thursday, Columbus Grove took first and third. Collin Grothaus won with a vault of 14 feet, while teammate Joey Warnecke cleared 12 feet to claim third.
In the 300 hurdles, Columbus Grove’s Derek Rieman and Collin Grothaus went one-two, respectively. Rieman won in 40.12 and Grothaus was right behind Rieman in 41.14.
“We had to make some adjustments today — put some guys in different events,” Columbus Grove boys coach Chris Grothaus said. “Jake (Graham) had to sacrifice a little bit. He wanted to run the open 3,200, but we knew he could score us some points in the eight (800) and 16 (1,600). We needed our 300 (-meter) hurdlers to finish one-two; that was a key race. Once the (300) hurdles was over, we felt pretty good.”
The LCC boys 400-meter relay team broke both the meet and stadium records, winning in 43.34 seconds. The team was comprised of Nick Taflinger, Darius West, Jamir Coleman and Mykale Rogers.
Rogers also took first in the 200 (22.35) and was first in the long jump on Thursday (21-8 ¾). Coleman finished second in the long jump (20-4).
The LCC 800 relay was defeated by Bluffton on Saturday. The Pirates just nipped LCC, winning in 1:31.66. The Thunderbirds crossed the line in 1:31.69. The Bluffton relay included Adam Wannemacher, Robert Demellweek, Dylan Alt and Noah Stratton.
Stratton also took first in the 400 (49.84).
Sophomore Kacie Muhlholland led the Spencerville girls team, winning the 100 (12.82); 200 (26.34) and 400 (58.12). Her time in the 400 was a new NWC and stadium record.
Spencerville also was strong in the distance events. In the 800, Karri Purdy led the Bearcats with a first-place finish (2:25.32).
In the 1,600, Spencerville’s Cierra Adams pulled away on the final lap to win in 5:34.99. Adams’ teammate Tori Hardesty, finished fifth (5:51.67).
In the shot put, Spencerville’s Abby Freewalt won with a mark of 36-8 ½.
“You look at last year and we lost a good group of seniors around the conference,” Spencerville coach Bruce McConnell said. “So, it was whoever was going to step up; and obviously we’ve got a lot of good, young talent. They had good experience from last year and it carried through. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of numbers, but what we have is pretty good.”
Klinger wins 400 wheelchair race
In a special event on Saturday, the 400-meter wheelchair race, Ada’s Daniel Klingler clocked a time of 1:20.79.
At this year’s state track meet, there will be at least three events added to the schedule for disabled athletes to compete in.
In order for a disabled athlete to qualify for the state meet, they need to compete in a certain number of meets during the spring, as well as be ranked in the top eight in the state in their respective events. They also have to be a student at the school they represent.
For Klingler, who was born with spina bifida, competing in athletics isn’t anything new.
“I’ve been on a wheelchair basketball team in Indiana since I was 10,” Klingler said. “My head coach told me about track. It just started to come into public schools. We’re starting to see more disabled athletes participate. So, this is my first year of competing, because I’ve been so devoted to basketball. I’ve decided to pick this up to see how well I could do. …And so far, it’s going pretty good.”