BENTON RIDGE — The winter indoor track-and-field season was an outstanding one for Leipsic senior Carlee Siefker.
So far this spring, the outdoor campaign looks even brighter for Siefker.
This past winter season, Siefker won both the Division II/III long jump and triple jump state titles.
If Saturday’s performance at the Liberty-Benton Pat Wagner Memorial Invitational is any indication of what’s to come, then Siefker should be standing high up on the Division III awards podium at the state track-and-field meet at Ohio State, come the first weekend in June.
Siefker not only dominated Saturday’s long jump, but she also crushed the meet record by nearly 2 feet.
On her second jump of the day, Siefker recorded a mark of 18 feet, 6 ¼ inches. Her closest competitor was Arlington’s Hannah Willow (15-7 ½). The previous meet record was 16-10 ½.
Siefker’s previous personal-best in the long jump was 18-4 ¾.
Last season, Siefker did not make it to the state meet in the long jump, due to an injury she suffered. Her sophomore season, she placed seventh in the long jump at the state meet.
“I injured a quad (last spring season). I did it at the league meet. Then at regionals, it was really bad,” she said.
Since then, Siefker has been on a mission to get back to her old form. The University of Findlay commit also is working hard in the short sprints. On Saturday, Siefker placed fourth in the 100 (13.14) and seventh in the 200 (27.22).
“I’m going for 19-6 (in the long jump),” Siefker said. “I train every day. Then, I eventually want to get down to 12.4, 12.5 (seconds) in the 100; and then maybe a low 26 (seconds) in the 200. I’m trying to get my sprinting faster to help with my long jump. I like doing the 100 first, before doing the long jump; because I get warmed up.”
Siefker is not going to rest on her laurels. She realizes that in order to reach her ultimate goal of winning the state title in June, there is a lot of work to be done.
“I need to be faster down the runway,” Siefker said. “Then, (work on) holding in the air longer. I just kind of go right for the landing. So, I need to jump and hold longer. …That’s what my coach tells me.”
In Saturday’s final team standings, Liberty-Benton notched the girls’ title, as it defeated Columbus Grove 120-94. Kalida finished a distant third (59), while Ottawa-Glandorf (55) and Arlington (54) rounded out the top five squads in the 17-team field.
On the boys’ side, Columbus Grove slipped past Kalida for the title, 90-63.5. Liberty-Benton was a close third (63). Van Buren (60) and Pandora-Gilboa (59) rounded out the top five teams.
The Columbus Grove girls were led by senior Rylee Sybert, who won the 100 (12.71) and 200 (25.86). Sybert also was the anchor for both the 400- and 800-meter relays. Both relays finished fourth.
Sybert, who also will be competing at the University of Findlay next school year, admits that she hasn’t always turned in her best times at the L-B Invite.
“I just haven’t always done my best here, because of the rain and everything,” Sybert said. “I really worked on my starts a lot; and I got off to a good start in the 100 and in the 200, today. I think that really helped me.”
Columbus Grove junior Alyssa Ellerbrock scored well Saturday.
Ellerbrock won the 3,200 (11:46.66) and finished a close second in the 1,600 (5:27.10). She also was the anchor of the winning 3,200 relay (Erin Downing, Addison Schafer, Morgan Deffenbaugh), which clocked a time of 10:36.88.
In the boys’ competition Saturday, Kalida senior Josh Verhoff broke two meet records.
In the 100, Verhoff clocked a winning time of 10.89. Then in the 200, Verhoff recorded a winning time of 21.58.
Verhoff also was the anchor on the winning 400 relay (Trevor Vorst, Grant Laudick, Brad Siefker) and the 1,600 relay (Siefker, Connor Krouse, Laudick) that placed third.
Verhoff is coming off a stellar indoor season in which he won the Division II/III state title in the 200. At last spring’s Division III state meet, Verhoff placed sixth in the 200, and was the anchor of the 800 relay that placed fifth. He also qualified for the state meet in the 100 and was part of the state-qualifying 1,600 relay.
“Right before the race (at Liberty-Benton), my coach came up to me and said, ‘Josh, you have a pretty good chance of breaking the record,’ ” Verhoff said with a smile. “I really didn’t think I could. I just came out here, had fun, did my best, and pulled it out.”
Columbus Grove sophomore Jon Banal won the 110- and 300-meter hurdles Saturday. It was a close race in the 110 hurdles, as Banal edged out Arlington’s Malcom Williams at the finish line. Banal clocked a winning time of 16.23, while Williams crossed in 16.24. Banal won the 300 hurdles in 42.50.
“I did pretty good last year as a freshman,” Banal said. “I got a lot of seconds and thirds at big meets. I’m just trying to improve.”
Longtime Columbus Grove boys coach Chris Grothaus was pleased at his team’s effort Saturday.
“It was a solid team effort. We had some young kids step up and some older kids step up,” Grothaus said. “Hunter Roethlisberger had a PR in the shot put today. He threw over 51 feet (51-3). (Senior) Jordan Bellman (fourth in 3,200 at 10:34.18) is running really well for us. And we had some freshmen step up. (Freshman) Carson Closson (second in 3,200 at 10:21.08) ran really well. We have some good, young kids. But, without our seniors leading the way, they probably wouldn’t be where they are at. We’re coming around. We still have a ways to go, but we’re learning.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.