ADA – For longtime Columbus Grove boys track-and-field coach Chris Grothaus, winning the Northwest Conference title on Saturday was extra special.
Columbus Grove swept both the boys’ and girls’ NWC titles Saturday at Ada’s War Memorial Stadium. The Columbus Grove boys program has won the NWC title the past six seasons, while the girls team has won three consecutive titles.
However, this past winter, Grothaus wasn’t sure if he would ever return to coaching.
“I woke up on December 4, went to school, and out of nowhere, got a sharp pain in the back of my head,” Grothaus said. “I went to the school nurse, I called my wife and she took me to the hospital. I had a subarachnoid hemorrhage in the back of my brain. They found that out in Lima, and they took me to Columbus.
“They put some tubes in, and I was in a coma for like 14 hours. They didn’t know if I would come out of the coma. So, I came out of the coma and really only had some side effects with my vision. Somehow, I came out pretty good. It was a moment of not knowing if I was going to live, to right now, feeling like I did before. The community really supported me and my family throughout the whole thing. I’m fine now. I’m back to my old self.”
Grothaus said during the recovery process, thoughts of getting back to coaching constantly went through his mind.
“After I got out of the coma, I came home and I knew it was going to be a long fight,” Grothaus said. “So, once I saw the improvements, like after a month-and-a-half, I felt pretty good.
“Those guys (track athletes) motivate you. Getting all the cards and stuff from them; that was big. That really motivated me. So, here we are. Now, we will move onto districts and into regionals.”
In Saturday’s boys’ final team standings, Columbus Grove defeated second-place Bluffton, 158-121. Spencerville finished third (90), Delphos Jefferson was fourth (87) and Lincolnview came in fifth (84). There were nine teams in the NWC meet.
On the girls’ side, Columbus Grove ran away with the title, defeating second-place Bluffton, 166-92. Spencerville finished third (89), Allen East was fourth (74.5), while Ada rounded out the top five teams (74).
For the Columbus Grove boys, Bailey Clement won two individual events, and was on two winning relays.
Clement won the 200 meters (23.58 seconds) and 400 meters (51.13). He also was part of the winning 800-meter relay (Brandt Follas, Lachlan Clymer and Caiden Grothaus; 1:33.66) and victorious 1,600 relay (Alex Giesige, Grothaus and Boone Brubaker; 3:37.21).
“Coming into this week) we’ve won five straight (NWC titles),” Clement said. “A lot of people didn’t want to see us do it. A lot of people think that track is an individual sport, but at Columbus Grove it’s a team sport. We don’t focus on winning events. It’s more about winning the entire meet.”
Boone Brubaker also came up big for Columbus Grove, coming from behind and winning the 1,600 in 4:39.78. Coming down the stretch, Brubaker out-kicked Bluffton’s Jacob Barnett (second, 4:40.96) and Isaac Andreas (third, 4:41.29) for the win.
“I originally was going to stick right behind him (Barnett),” Brubaker said. “They started taking off that second 800 (meters). I figured if I could stick close to them and not let them get too big of a lead, maybe I could catch them in the end with that kick.”
Rece Roney won both the shot put (53-2) and discus for Columbus Grove (152-0). Caiden Grothaus, son of Chris Grothaus, won the pole vault Thursday for Columbus Grove with a height of 12-8.
Bluffton’s Trevor Bassitt won both the 110 hurdles (15.72) and 300 hurdles (40.38). In both races, Bassitt edged out Lincolnview standout Hunter Blankemeyer.
“It was a good race in both the 300 and 110,” Bassitt said. “He (Blankemeyer) is an outstanding hurdler. He’s the best hurdler I’ve gone against this year. So, to be able to go against competition like that, it’s amazing with these (weather) conditions to get a victory.”
For the Columbus Grove girls, there was little doubt, as the Bulldogs started strong on Thursday and continued the dominance on Saturday.
“They responded well,” Columbus Grove girls coach Tim Staley said. “I guess it’s good to be the favorite, but there are times you’re crunching the numbers, trying to figure every point you can. But, we didn’t have to do that this year, But, it still comes down that you can’t take it for granted. You’ve got to go out there and perform.”
In the throws, Columbus Grove’s Lyne’a Diller, broke meet records in both the shot put and discus. Her mark of 43-3 won the shot put, while a toss of 151-2 notched first in the discus.
“It felt awesome, especially leading into districts next week,” the Ohio State-bound Diller said. “To be able to come back in the shot put, definitely. … I’ve been struggling a little bit there. But, I’ve been definitely hitting the weights hard. But, being able to throw that 43 (feet) today, to be back where I was at the beginning of the season is great. Then with discus, I’m blessed to be able to throw that well and to stay consistent.”
Columbus Grove’s Rylee Sybert won both the 100 (13.62) and 200 (27.85). Sybert was also part of the winning 400 relay (Raiya Flores, Bailey Dunifon and Linnea Stephens; 52.72). Teammate Taylor Ellerbrock won the 3,200 (12:21.31) and finished second to Lincolnview’s Anna Gorman in the 1,600. Gorman won in 5:33.42, while Ellerbrock’s late surge just came up short, finishing in 5:34.39.
Ada’s Carlee Marshall won both the long jump (16-1 ½) and high jump (5-2).
Grothaus and Staley were named NWC Coaches of the Year. Marshall was named the NWC female athlete of the year, while Bassitt was picked the male athlete of the year.