DEFIANCE — Elida boys’ track-and-field coach Tim Folger had a good feeling about his team’s chances after Wednesday’s semifinals.
At Friday’s finals of the Division II district meet at Defiance High School, Elida slipped past Wauseon for the team title, 88-87. Bryan (85) finished a very close third, while Archbold (67) rounded out the top four boys’ squads in the 19-team field.
Heading into Friday’s final event – the 1,600-meter relay – Wauseon held a three-point lead over the Bulldogs.
Unfortunately for Wauseon, Elida’s 1,600 relay was in the finals and Wauseon’s was not. Elida finished fifth in the 1,600 relay, giving the Bulldogs the district title.
“Coming into it (district meet), we felt like we would be prepared, coming out of our league meet (second place at the Western Buckeye League),” Folger said. “We knew that some of our toughest competition from our league meet – Celina, Shawnee, Wapak and Defiance – would all be Division I. We knew those guys prepared us pretty well for this meet. We knew we could be up there in the bunch of teams that would be in the hunt of winning the district; but you never know what will happen. Today, the kids came out and took care of business.”
One of the main catalysts for Elida at the district meet, as well as all season, was senior Xavier Gilkey.
On Friday, Gilkey won the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. He also was on the 800 relay (Dravyn Jones, Noah Paris, Layton Mowery – fourth, 1:32.74) and 1,600 relay (Jayden Pullen, Draek Littler, Derek Brockert – fifth, 3:31.85).
Elida’s 400 relay (Jones, Cole Harmon, Nazareus Wright, Paris) won Friday in 44.49.
The top four placers in each event at the Defiance district meet advance to the Division II regional meet Thursday and Saturday at Piqua. Then, the top four placers in each event at Piqua will advance to the state meet June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
At Wednesday’s semifinals, Gilkey got off to a strong start, setting a district record in the 300 hurdles (39.49). Then in Friday’s finals, Gilkey won in 39.87.
Gilkey started off Friday’s finals by winning the 110 hurdles in 14.91. Teammate KeShawn Spivey was on his heels, finishing second in 15.17. Spivey, a sophomore, finished sixth in the 300 hurdles (42.77).
“Wednesday was a beautiful day,” Gilkey said. “Usually, I’m not ready for the 300 hurdles, but I just felt good and I gave it my all. It felt like a clean race, but I didn’t think it was that fast of a race, until I looked up at the results on the board.”
Last season, Gilkey just missed advancing out of regionals and on to the state meet, when he finished fifth in the 300 hurdles. Last year, the Elida boys team competed in the Division I tournament.
“Last year was rough,” Gilkey said in reference to Division I competition. “Kids were running like 36s and 37s. But this season, I’m running PRs. I’m ready to go to regionals and win.”
On the girls’ side, the pole vault was postponed until Monday, because of the inclement weather. So, the final team scores will not be official until after Monday.
After 16 events scored on Friday, Toledo Central Catholic led the girls’ team standings with 84 points. Van Wert was sitting comfortably in second (77.50), while Defiance (50) and Bath (47) finished out the top four teams.
In one of the most highly contested races Friday, the girls’ 800, Celina senior standout Lauren Jackson out-kicked Toledo Central Catholic’s Anna Kovacs down the stretch for the win.
Both Jackson and Kovacs broke the district meet record. However, Jackson recorded the win in 2:17.11. Kovacs crossed the finish line in 2:18.46.
“I was really striving for my PR,” Jackson said. “I knew about Kovacs. So, I was using her as pace, because obviously she’s really fast. So, it worked out perfectly.”
Van Wert junior Austin Clay continued his dominance in the shot put.
On Wednesday, Clay won the shot put with a mark of 54 feet, ½ inch. On Friday, Clay placed second in the discus (150-4), just getting edged out by Wauseon’s Kyle Zirkle (150-6).
Last season, Clay was a state-qualifier in the shot put. His personal best is 56-11 ½.
In Wednesday’s finals of the shot put, Clay’s final throw was his best.
“I felt pretty confident, going in (the finals of shot put), knowing that I had it (first place),” Clay said. “I just wanted to get it out there and see if I could better my throws.
“Right now, I’m not focusing on setting PRs. I’m focused on moving on, making top four - and saving the big throws for state.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.