SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — The Shawnee Invitational tends to be a nice change of pace for some area track-and-field athletes.
A few extra relays thrown into the mix, tends to break up the monotony of the normal schedule of running events.
However, the change-up of events doesn’t necessarily equate to a relaxed environment.
Spencerville junior Nelaya Burden, a Division III state-placer in the 100-meter hurdles and state-qualifier in the 300 hurdles last season, is taking every track meet serious. Burden also was part of last year’s 400-meter relay that placed sixth at the state meet at Ohio State.
At Friday’s Shawnee Invitational, Burden helped lead the Spencerville girls’ team to the team title, as the Bearcats slipped past Shawnee 111.50 – 102.50. Elida finished third (75) and Bath placed fourth (73). Delphos St. John’s (44) and Lima Central Catholic (20) rounded out the six teams in the girls’ competition.
Burden and her competitors fought through a tough headwind in the 100 hurdles, as Burden edged out Bath’s Caitlyn Renner for the victory. Burden’s winning time was 16.76 seconds, while Renner crossed the finish line in 16.95 seconds.
Friday’s times were not reflective of how fast Burden has ran this season.
“My best time right now (100 hurdles) is a 14.7, and that’s way faster than I was last year (at this time),” Burden said. “At the beginning (of last season) I was running like 15 (seconds). At state last year, I ended with a 14.5. So, I’m right on track to get faster than I was last year.”
Burden kept busy Friday, as she competed in the winning 400-meter relay (Gillian Goecke, Ariana McMichael, Raigan Staup) and winning 800 relay (Lilyan Goecke, McMichael, Staup). She also anchored the 800-meter sprint medley relay (Gillian Goecke, McMichael, Lilyan Goecke) that finished second.
Burden enjoyed the unique setup of Friday’s meet.
“It’s a busy meet,” Burden said. “It’s exciting to come out here with a bunch of people and have like the whole Allen County here to give us a lot of competition.”
As this spring season begins to wind down, Burden is weighing out her options for the postseason tournament.
“I’m going to try to shoot for four individual events. Then, if that doesn’t work out, then maybe a relay can get out (to the state meet),” she said.
On the boys’ side Friday night, Shawnee garnered the gold, just edging out Elida 102.5-100. Perry finished third (61) and Spencerville was fourth (58). Delphos St. John’s (42), Lima Senior (23), LCC (22.50) and Bath (22) rounded out the eight-team field.
Due to Friday’s very windy conditions, the pole vault competition was canceled.
Shawnee was balanced. Shawnee senior standout Christian Ford won the 100-meter dash (11.66), anchored both the winning 800 relay (Derek Schweizer, Cooper Conley, Trever Miller) and 800 sprint medley (Alec Robertson, K.J. Upshaw, Conley). Ford also anchored the 1,600 relay (Kayshaun Booher, Conley, Miller) that finished second behind Elida (Derek Brockert, Arzaiah Little, Dravyn Jones, Jayden Pullen).
Ford placed fifth in the 200 meters at last year’s Division I state meet, and also was a state qualifier in the 100 meters. During this past winter indoor season, Ford finished third in the 200 meters and was fifth in the 60 meters.
Perry freshman Braden Yingst was a workhorse Friday night.
Yingst started the meet by staving off Shawnee’s Isaiah Johns for the win in the 1,600. Yingst won in a time of 4 minutes, 51.14 seconds, while Johns finished in 4:53.38.
Yingst went on to compete in both the distance medley and 800 sprint medley.
“It was pretty tough. I had to run two mile (1,600 meter) races today. That last 400 (meters) really stuck on me.” Yingst said. “I usually give it my all, no matter what in the 1,600. It was a very windy day. So, I paced myself early on, and then went all out (toward the end) and got the win (1,600).”
Yingst has recorded personal-bests of 4:46 in the 1,600 and 10:39 in the 3,200 in his first year at the high school level.
As the postseason tournament grows nearer, Yingst will have to make some decisions.
“The mile (1,600) is my main focus.” Yingst said. “I always try to get my time down in that. If it comes down to that I’m good enough in the 2-mile, then I’ll start focusing more on that. But, the 800 (meters) is really my good second event.”
Yingst also had a very successful cross-country season in the fall, and is humbled by his success at the high school level.
“I said this during cross country season — that I’ve really surprised myself on how well I’m doing this year. It’s been a fun time this year,” he said.
Elida junior KeShawn Spivey also had a busy day Friday.
Spivey, the Division II/III indoor state champion in the 60-meter hurdles this past winter, won the 110 hurdles (16.06) and the long jump (20 feet, 10 inches) Friday night. Spivey also took second in the high jump (5-8) and was the anchor of the 800-sprint medley that finished second.
Spivey, a state qualifier in the 110 hurdles at last spring’s state meet, has a personal best of 14.9 in the 110 hurdles.
“It was pretty tough,” Spivey said about Friday’s meet. “I had to jump back and forth from high jump to long jump. I won the 110 hurdles, but it was a struggle with the wind. I was glad I could finish the race pretty strong. I wasn’t expecting to PR. I just wanted to run my race and finish on top.
“In the long jump, I felt like the wind helped me out a little bit. I was able to PR.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.