SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Elida senior Xavier Gilkey has been running with a purpose this track-and-field season.
Gilkey, a senior, has dominated the competition this spring in both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles.
Friday’s Shawnee Invitational was not any different as Gilkey won the 110-meter hurdles in 15.43 seconds, running into a strong headwind. Friday’s invitational did not feature the 300 hurdles.
Gilkey’s performance helped lead Elida to the boys team title Friday night. Elida also won the team title on the girls side.
Last season, Gilkey just missed qualifying for the Division I track-and-field state meet in the 300 hurdles, finishing fifth at regionals. The top four placers at regionals advance to the state meet.
So far this season, Gilkey has clocked a stellar time of 14.43 in the 110 hurdles. In the 300 hurdles, Gilkey’s seasonal best is 40.14. His all-time personal best in the 300 hurdles is 39.98 (at last season’s regional meet).
“I want the school record (in 110 hurdles),” Gilkey said Friday. “It’s a 14.2 and I want to get under that.”
Pushing Gilkey every day has been teammate KeShawn Spivey
Spivey, a sophomore, finished a close second to Gilkey in the 110 hurdles Friday, clocking a time of 16.25 seconds. Spivey has a personal best of 14.8 seconds.
“I had three goals at the beginning of the season,” Spivey said with a smile. “And all three of them was to beat Xavier, beat Xavier, beat Xavier. I feel like I’m getting closer every race. He pushes me really hard, and he also kind of mentors me.”
Spivey won the high jump Friday with a clearance of 6-feet, 1-inch.
In Friday’s final boys team standings, Elida slipped past second-place Shawnee 124-100. Bath and Spencerville tied for third (57).
On the girls side, Elida defeated second-place Bath, 112-85.25. Shawnee (81.50) finished third, while Spencerville (64.25) rounded out the top four teams. There were eight teams at Friday’s invite.
“Probably the biggest challenge he (Gilkey) faced today was that it was probably the first time he had to run the hurdles into a headwind,” Elida boys coach Tim Folger said. “So, outside of that, all of his 110 times have been dropping consistently throughout the year.”
Coach Folger was pleased at his team’s effort on Friday – in a meet that featured a couple more relay events than the conventional meet.
“As a team, they competed really well. This is a nice meet, because we can get some of our key guys a little bit lighter workload. Also, with guys that don’t participate as much, we can get them involved. It was an overall good team effort,” said Folger.
The Elida boys squad won the 400-meter relay (Dravyn Jones, Cole Harmon, Nazareus Wright, Noah Paris) in 45.18 seconds.
The Bulldogs won the 3,200-meter relay (Jayden Pullen, Jon Stotts, Corbin Fingerle and Draek Littler) in 8:51.64.
Elida also took first in both the 800 relay (Jones, Wright, Layton Mowery, Gilkey – 1:33.06) and the 1,600 relay (Pullen, Littler, Jones, Gilkey – 3:37.52).
On the girls side, Elida won the 800 relay (Jency Jenkins, Amiah Jones, Jasmine Jones, Shyah Wheeler – 1:53.20 ), 1,600 relay (Wheeler, Aubrey Vincent, Hayleigh Bacome, Jenkins – 4:24.59) and the 400 Iron Woman Relay (Tayonna Lasenby, Grace Earl, Alissa Cuffy, Jessica Siefker – 58.94).
Elida’s Jessica Siefker broke the meet record in the high jump with a clearance of 5-feet, 3-inches.
“I’m really pleased,” Elida girls coach Andy Etzkorn said. “We had to overcome a lot of adversity (injuries), but the girls never gave up. They really competed hard. We had a lot of people doing different things than what they’re used to doing. They just really competed hard. I’m really proud of them all.
“Our relay teams were shuffled around. We had a lot of different relays, with a lot of girls moving around. But, some girls really stepped up and filled some roles in big ways.”
Spencerville’s Nelaya Burden broke the meet record in the 100 hurdles Friday night with a winning time of 15.65 seconds.
Delphos St. John’s Jill Gemmer won both the shot put (34-4) and discus (106-10 ½).
Lima Central Catholic senior Emily Sreenan won the 1,600 in 5:36.93. Sreenan, a multiple-time state-placer in track and former cross country state champion, led from start to finish. However, down the stretch, Shawnee’s Lexie Marshall closed the gap, finishing second to Sreenan in 5:40.66.
“I went out and realized that I would probably be out in front for a while,” Sreenan said. “So, I just tried to keep a consistent pace.”