OTTAWA — When you’re on top, everyone’s gunning for you.
The Celina girls track-and-field program came into this week’s Western Buckeye League Championships at Ottawa-Glandorf, riding a six-year winning streak at the annual league meet.
The winning streak is over.
Van Wert pulled away in Day Two of the WBL Championships on Friday to capture its first girls league title since 1976. The WBL Championships started on Wednesday, with most finals Friday.
Van Wert ended the meet with 99 points, while Elida finished second with 88 points. Celina (68) came in third, while Bath (63) was a close fourth in the 10-team field.
On the boys’ side, Celina defended its 2017 WBL title, slipping past Elida, 112-103. Defiance (77) finished third, while Wapakoneta (61) came in fourth.
“On the ladies end, we did what we could do,” Celina coach Eric Wagner said. “We scored more than what I originally thought we would. The senior leadership has been great this year. It was a great group of girls. We’re young on the girls end, but we’ll rebuild.
“Van Wert had a phenomenal meet today for the girls. You just have to give them all the credit. Elida – both guys and girls – competed really well.”
The Van Wert girls not only got it done on the track Friday, but also scored big points Friday in a couple field events.
In the shot put, Van Wert finished one-two as Abby Jackson won with a mark of 37 feet, 9 ¾ inches. Teammate Tabatha Saam was second with a put of 36-4.
In the long jump, Van Wert senior Megan Braun won with a mark of 18-5 ¼.
“That was the goal (meet record, 18-7), but it wasn’t for today,” Braun said about her win in the long jump Friday. “But, it was a new PR for me and a new school record. So, it was a good day.”
Braun also won the 400 meter run (58.14 seconds), and was on the 800-meter relay (third, 1:49.72) and 1,600 relay (first, 4:06.14).
“Our conference, top to bottom, is incredible,” Van Wert girls coach Nate Hoverman said. “This is the first (girls) track championship since 1976. Our girls are as well-rounded as any team. They just did everything. We laid it out to them yesterday, and put some spots out there, and said that we had to hold serve or improve; and they did that in every single aspect.”
On the boys’ side, Celina’s Adrian Hurley was a workhorse, winning the 800 (1:59.14). He also competed in the 1,600 (third, 4:39.40), 3,200 relay (fifth, 8:40.07) and anchored the winning 1,600 relay (3:32.19).
The 1,600 relay was the final event of the meet Friday.
“Going into it (1,600 relay), we wanted to win,” Hurley said. “We didn’t care about the points or anything. Each leg, we wanted to be in first, pushing ourselves as hard as we could and getting good hand-offs the entire race. This is such a great feeling.”
Wagner was overwhelmed at his boys’ performance this week.
“We leaked a few points on the first day (Wednesday), but we were able to overcome it today,” Wagner said. “We did a lot of things I thought we could do, but I wasn’t sure we would do. I have so much confidence in these guys.”
Elida senior Xavier Gilkey continued to dominate the hurdle events. Gilkey took first in the 110- (15.27) and 300-meter hurdles (40.42) Friday.
The Defiance boys looked strong in the distance events Friday, taking both first and second in the 1,600 and 3,200.
In the 1,600, it was Defiance’s Bryce Mendenhall winning in 4:29.62, while teammate Mhalicki Bronson was second in 4:35.51.
In the 3,200, Bronson won in 9:45.73, while teammate Hayden Howerton was a close second (9:48.88).
“We were just trying to stay with each other for the first mile,” Bronson said about the 3,200. “Then, we just tried to feed off each other (in the second mile), so we could finish strong. We were about 4:50-4:51 for the first mile, which was what we were hoping to get. We wanted to stay smooth and then pick it up for the second mile.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.