CELINA — Van Wert junior Caylee Phillips knows when to bear down.
For Phillips, it’s all about getting separation on her competition.
About midway through the 5,000-meter race at Saturday’s Western Buckeye League Championships at Wright State University – Lake Campus, Phillips took the race over and went on for the victory in a time of 19 minutes, 17.27 seconds.
For a good part of Saturday’s race, Phillips was being chased by Defiance’s Katie Crites and Shay Soukop.
However, it was all Phillips down the stretch.
Crites finished second (19:47.86) and Soukop came in third (20:07.89).
“Probably about a mile-and-a-half (is when Phillips made the move),” Phillips said. “We call that the ‘Go Zone’. It’s when a lot of runners settle in, but that’s when we want to go.
“So, I kind of just went for it. I know at the (first) mile, I was asking for my time, and they told me not to worry about it.”
Phillips missed her personal-best time on Saturday by just six seconds. Next week at the Division II district meet at Ottawa, Phillips is aiming high. Not only does Phillips want to advance to the regional meet at Tiffin, but she also wants to take care of some unfinished business.
“Next week, I’m definitely going for the school record,” she said. “That’s what I’ve been shooting for all season.
Van Wert coach Ryan Holliday said Phillips has learned to shift to another gear at the right time.
“She’s done a really nice job this year. She kind of goes out steady, kind of conservative in the first 800 (meters). By the first mile – that’s where she races really well,” Holliday said.
In Saturday’s team standings, Defiance swept the girls’ and boys’ team titles.
In the girls’ competition, Defiance defeated second-place Shawnee, 45-95. Wapakoneta (111) finished third, while Kenton (112) and St. Marys
(112) rounded out the top five teams. Van Wert (114), Celina (124), Bath (191) and Ottawa-Glandorf (225) rounded out the field.
Lily Cleaves led Shawnee with a seventh-place finish (21:11.12). Wapakoneta’s Paige Schneider came in fourth (20:50). Kenton’s Kierra Krohmer was fifth (20:59.55).
On the boys’ side, Defiance ran away with the title, scoring 26 points, while second-place Van Wert tallied 67 points. Shawnee (71) finished third, Ottawa-Glandorf (134) was fourth and St. Marys (152) rounded out the top five squads. Celina (155), Wapakoneta (158), Elida (210), Bath (234) and Kenton (261) rounded out the field.
Defiance’s Mhalicki Bronson led from start to finish, clocking a winning time of 16:21.74.
”I wanted to get out and then try to keep up the momentum,” Bronson said. “The turns here, cut the times down a little bit.
“I usually focus on what I need to take care of and try my best to not to fall back. I know I have my teammates behind me.”
Defiance placed all five of its scorers in the top 11 overall spots.
“We were looking to practice on getting out fast, because that will be the major thing the next two weeks (districts, regionals),” longtime Defiance boys’ coach Obie Mouser said. “So, we worked on getting out fast and to see where we’re at. I thought we ran pretty tough.”
Van Wert had a solid pack on Saturday.
Leading the way for Van Wert was Gage Chiles (third, 17:23.70). Teammate Jacob Wasson finished third (17:25.83). Rounding out the top five runners for Van Wert were Hunter Scherer (10th, 17:50.89), Holden Reichert (22nd, 18:24.83) and Gage Wannemacher (29th, 18:43.55).
“We were pretty happy,” Coach Holliday said about his boys’ team. “We know Defiance is kind of in a different atmosphere. So, we wanted some individuals to key off some of their guys. We raced really well. I was really happy with how we raced. We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish today – which was to take that next step to
become a better version of ourselves as individuals and as a team. I was really pleased at the way our guys raced.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.