ADA — With track-and-field conference championships less than a week away, it’s all about getting ready.
At Saturday’s Ada Invitational, Van Wert looked to be prepared for next week’s Western Buckeye League Championships, as it swept both the girls and boys team titles.
On the boys’ side, despite having a few injuries, Van Wert still managed to pull away from Spencerville for the team title, defeating the Bearcats 95.5-68. Ada (66) finished a close third, while Kenton (65) was a very close fourth in the 16-team field.
In the girls’ competition, Van Wert found itself in a tight battle with WBL-foe Bath. Van Wert, behind a very balanced showing in the field events and running events, slipped past Bath, 115-99.5. Kenton (75) finished third, while Carey (71) rounded out the top four squads.
In the long jump, Van Wert senior Megan Braun broke her own meet record, en route to a first-place finish with a meet record mark of 18 feet, 2 ½ inches.
Braun set the mark in 2016. Last season, the Ada Invitational was canceled due to inclement weather.
Braun, the two-time WBL champion in the long jump, broke her own meet record Saturday in her first three jumps. Her all-time personal best is 18-4 ¾.
Braun said she has adapted to this spring’s cold and wet weather.
“It was difficult at the beginning,” Braun said. “It was hard to get warmed up and ready for the jump. But, when I jumped 18-3 and broke our school record (earlier in the season), it was like pouring down rain and was cold. So after that, it was like the conditions really didn’t matter. I just had to push through and get the jump.”
Last season, Braun finished fifth at the Division II regional meet, just missing a trip to the state meet. The top four placers in each event advance to the state meet.
“(My) first goal is to get down (to the state meet),” Braun said. “Currently, I’m ranked first (in the state in Division II). So, that would be a dream come true if the rankings hold true at this point.”
Braun also competed in the 800-meter relay (Caylee Phillips, Nicole Clay, Carly Smith – second, 1:49.65) and 1,600 relay (Cassidy Meyers, Julia Springer, Phillips – first, 4:09.37) Saturday.
Van Wert girls coach Nate Hoverman is impressed at the way Braun has progressed throughout her high school career.
“She’s starting to be very consistent at 18 feet and above, which is going to be good for next week and good down the line,” Hoverman said about Braun’s long jump. “So, we’re really proud of how she’s grown in our program over the years. She’s also been a very good leader for us.”
On the boys side, Van Wert’s Austin Clay continued his dominance in the throwing events.
In the shot put, Clay won with a mark of 54-10 ½. Clay also won the discus with a toss of 145-1.
Last season, as a sophomore, Clay was a Division II state qualifier in the shot put (finished 12th). His all-time personal best in the shot put is 56-11 ½.
“I’m trying to get into the 58 to 60 (-feet) range right now,” Clay said in reference to the shot put. “I’m almost there. I think we’re going to need a big throw for state. Most likely a 58 or 59 (-foot throw) would get it (state title).”
Clay is continuing to work on the discus as well.
“It’s there. … 158-10 is my best, right now. I’m trying to get over 165,” he said.
Van Wert boys coach Mark Collins feels that his team is ready for what lies ahead.
“This is a great meet for us,” he said in reference to the Ada Invite. “This is sort of our league lineup. We still have some injuries out there. We didn’t have some of them running this week, because we’re trying to keep them healthy for the league. We’re really pleased with both programs. This is the third invitational that our girls have won. I’m really proud of both the boys and girls.”
Temple Christian senior Cameron Worsham won four events on Saturday. Last season, Worsham placed eighth in the 110 hurdles at the Division III state meet, and was also a state-qualifier in the 300 hurdles.
On Saturday, Worsham won the 100 (11.36), 110 hurdles (15.25), 300 hurdles (42.45) and the 200 (23.08).
Worsham is uncertain if he will try to compete in all four events once the postseason tournament begins.
“We’ll see how it feels, but I’m not opposed to trying to go for all four,” Worsham said. “It’s exhausting, but I’m not opposed to it.
“I have to be honest, it’s the 300 (hurdles) that’s the toughest. I’m glad I had a little break between the 300 and 200. If we didn’t have a break, I’d probably be passed out.”
However, there is one thing Worsham is sure of.
“I’m coming down (to the state meet) for a winning time,” he said with a smile. “I’m getting my times lower and lower.”
Lima Central Catholic senior distance standout Emily Sreenan looked to be in her old form Saturday, winning the 1,600 (5:28.82) and 3,200 (11:50.89). Both of Saturday’s times were seasonal-bests for Sreenan, who got a late start this spring because of injuries she sustained during cross country season in the fall. Sreenan is a multiple-time state-placer in track and a former cross country state champion.
“I was hoping to get under 12 (minutes in the 3,200) and see what I could do,” Sreenan said. “And I feel really good. I’m still injury free. In the mile (1,600), I just wanted to do a seasonal-best. I didn’t get it by much, but I got it.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.