BATH TOWNSHIP — The Van Wert track-and-field team has been known over the years to be difficult to beat on the track.
However, in the last several years, Van Wert’s throwers have been making a name for themselves.
At Friday’s Ehresman Invitational at Bath, Van Wert’s throwers scored some lofty points to lead the way.
Leading the charge for Van Wert Friday was senior Austin Clay, who won both the shot put and discus. In the shot put, Clay broke the meet record with a mark of 55 feet, 8 ½ inches.
Clay, a two-time state qualifier, has signed to compete at Central Michigan University next school year.
“I’ve been struggling early on,” Clay said about this spring season. “I was hitting a little beyond 51 (feet) my last two meets. I got it over 55 (Friday). So, I’ll keep pushing to get it over 60.”
In the discus, Clay won with a toss of 152-6.
“I’ve been struggling on that early on,” Clay said about the discus. “Hopefully by regionals and districts, I’ll be throwing over 160.”
Clay has the school record in the shot put (56-11). This winter, during the indoor season, Clay set a personal best put of 59-4.
Austin Clay’s sister, Kirsten, finished runner-up Friday to teammate Jill Gemmer, in both the shot put and discus.
The Clay’s father, Brian Clay, was a state runner-up in the shot put at Van Wert in 1986.
Gemmer, a transfer from Delphos St. John’s, placed eighth last season at the Division III state meet in the shot put.
“I’m working on technical stuff, but it’s still early in the season,” Gemmer said. “So, my goal for this season is a 43 (-foot shot put), or over that; and then just keep going up from there.”
Van Wert throws coach Hannah Philpot said all of her throwers are totally committed.
“It’s a year-round process for them. They work extremely hard in the weight room, and they work really hard on technique. It’s a constant 12-month commitment for them.”
In the final team standings Friday, the Van Wert boys won with 113 points and Elida finished second with 89 points. Shawnee finished third (71), while St. Marys (56) rounded out the top four teams in the 10-team field.
On the girls’ side, Kalida edged out Elida 85.5-80. Shawnee (73.83) and Van Wert (71.33) rounded out the top four squads.
Kalida’s Josh Verhoff and Shawnee’s Christian Ford – two of the best sprinters in their respective divisions – went head to head Friday night.
Verhoff edged out Ford in both the 100- and 200-meters.
“I just came out here and tried to do my best,” Verhoff said. “There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of great people out here.
“Ford has been my best competition around here in a while. It’s just fun to race someone that good.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.