COLUMBUS GROVE — There’s nothing better than winning at home.
Winning league titles on your own track is even sweeter.
Host Columbus Grove swept both the girls and boys Putnam County League track-and-field team titles Friday in the annual Putnam County League Meet.
On the girls side, Columbus Grove won decisively over second-place Kalida 177-116. Pandora-Gilboa (69.5) was third, while Leipsic (64.5) finished fourth. Ottoville (54), Continental (25) and Fort Jennings (19) rounded out the field of seven teams.
In the boys competition, Columbus Grove ran past Kalida for the title, 149.5-106. P-G (94) was a close third, while Ottoville (67) finished fourth. Continental (39), Fort Jennings (36) and Leipsic (32.5) rounded out the field.
One of the reasons for the Columbus Grove girls’ success this season has been the consistent progress of its 3,200-meter relay.
Friday, Columbus Grove’s 3,200 relay pulled away in the first leg of the race and was never challenged, en route to a winning time of 10 minutes, 7.2 seconds, in very windy conditions.
Erin Downing, Taylor Ellerbrock, Allison Choi and Alyssa Ellerbrock made up Columbus Grove’s 3,200 relay.
Downing, a freshman, got the Bulldogs off to a strong start, clocking a time of 2:23 in the first 800-meter leg of the relay.
“I’m really excited,” Downing said. “I really like running with all of them. They’re all really fast. So, it’s really been fun.”
Said Alyssa Ellerbrock, the anchor leg, “It’s really great. Like right at the beginning of the season, we were already close to running under 10 (minutes). That was a really good start to the season.”
Senior Taylor Ellerbrock, Alyssa’s sister, said it’s been fun to run with her younger sibling.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun to be able to run with her on the four-by-eight (3,200 relay), because we’ve dropped so much time during the season,” Taylor said. “It’s been so much fun seeing how much progress we’ve made during my four years.”
Alyssa Ellerbrock also won the 1,600 (5:15.18) and 3,200 (11:29.10) Friday. Downing finished second in the 1,600 (5:18.79). Downing went on to win the open 800 (2:27).
Ellerbrock’s winning time in the 3,200 was a new PCL record.
“I was kind of tired from the one-mile (1,600),” Ellerbrock said. “So, I was just going out trying to see how fast I could go, but towards the end I ran out of gas.”
Senior hurdler Carlee McCluer scored big points for Columbus Grove Friday, winning both the 100- (15.39) and 300-meter hurdles (47.22).
Last season, McCluer was a state-qualifier in the 100 hurdles.
“That (100 hurdles) is one of my favorite races,” McCluer said.
Columbus Grove’s Rylee Sybert won both the 100 (12.87) and 200 (26.44) Friday.
The Columbus Grove boys team scored big points in the pole vault. Evan Hopkins won with a clearance of 11 feet, 3 inches, while teammate Gabe Clement was second (10-0).
In the shot put, Columbus Grove finished one-two, as Cody Johnson won (45-2) and teammate Hunter Roethlisberger was second (44-0). The Bulldogs also took one-two in the discus, with Dylan Fruchey winning (134-2) and Ethan Halker coming in second (125).
Columbus Grove freshman Zeke Halker won the long jump (19-5 ½).
Leipsic senior thrower Grace Rigel is hoping to peak at the right time of the season.
Last season, Rigel placed fourth at the Division III state track-and-field meet in the shot put. Her goal this season is to move up on the awards podium, the first weekend of June at the state meet.
Her sophomore season, Rigel was runner-up in the shot put at the state meet (45-3 ¼) and eighth her freshman season (38-2).
At Friday’s PCL meet, Rigel showed signs that she was heading in the right direction, as she won both the shot put and discus.
In the shot put, Rigel broke the PCL meet record with a mark of 43 feet, 10 inches. In the discus, Rigel won with a mark of 127-11.
“I’m satisfied for the day,” the Miami (of Ohio) University-bound Rigel said. “I haven’t been throwing very well (discus), so today was a little bit of a surprise.”
Rigel broke a former teammate’s record in the shot put – Holly Averesch’s record of 43-2, which was set in 2015.
Rigel’s seasonal-best mark in the shot put is 44-10. At last year’s state meet, Rigel’s best mark was 45-1.
“I want to get to that 47-, 48-feet mark,” Rigel said. “Hopefully, I’m not peaking too soon.”
Ottoville senior Brendan Siefker won three individual races Friday – the 1,600 (4:27.16), 800 (2:01.79) and 3,200 (9:41.9). He also was on the winning 3,200 relay.
Siefker, the 2017 Division III state champion in the 1,600, had hopes of notching at least one meet record Friday, especially in the 3,200. He missed the 3,200 meet record by two seconds.
“Going into the meet I didn’t really want to set that (3,200 meet record) as my main goal, because I had three races before it,” Siefker said. “I kind of wanted to focus on each race. Before the two-mile (3,200) I started to get myself mentally prepared. So, when I went out my first mile, I was exactly on pace for it (the meet record). That kind of worried me a little bit, because you typically run your first mile faster than your second. So, I was running on adrenaline at that point.”
Kalida junior Josh Verhoff won the 100 (11.10), 200 (23.47), and 400 (51.32) on Friday. Last season, Verhoff was a state-placer in both the 200 dash and 400 relay.
“Overall, it was nice weather,” Verhoff said. “In the 400, my buddy Grant (Laudick, second place) and I went back and forth. I think he tripped up a little bit in the end. … It was close.”
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