ADA – With conference meets fast approaching this week and the postseason tournament right around the corner, many area high school track-and-field coaches were trying to fine tune their athletes at Saturday’s Ada Invitational at War Memorial Stadium.
The Van Wert boys team looked to be clicking on all cylinders Saturday as the Cougars piled up points in the field events early on, and then later scorched the track to pull away for a decisive victory over second-place Bluffton, 150-100. Cory-Rawson finished a distant third (59), while Carey (50.50) and Arlington (50) rounded out the top five squads in the 16-team field.
On the girls’ side, Spencerville held off Van Wert for the team title, 91-87. Bath finished a close third (83), while Arlington (80) and Carey (69) rounded out the top five teams. There were 14 squads figured into the scoring.
“We used this (invitational) to envision what our league and tournament lineup will be, and tried to get used to these (weather) conditions,” longtime Van Wert boys coach Mark Collins said, in reference to Saturday’s wet weather conditions. “I think with the elements, the times and everything are irrelevant. So, I’m very pleased at how they performed today.”
Van Wert started the day, scoring well in the field events.
In the high jump, Blake Henry got Van Wert off to a strong start, winning with a clearance of 6 feet, 4 inches.
In the throws, senior standout Austin Clay won the shot put with a personal best mark of 59-2 ¾. Teammate Colin Place finished second in the shot put with a heave of 44-7.
Clay, a two-time Division II state qualifier, will compete in throws next school year at Central Michigan University.
“On Tuesday, I PR’d again with a 58-6,” Clay said. “So, I’m just trying to keep moving up, and keep trying to get those big throws. I felt pretty good. I’m just trying to go hard all the time in the weight room and keep preparing myself.”
On the track, Van Wert speedster Jacob Hart won the 100-meter dash (11.35 seconds) and 200 (23.55). Hart also anchored the winning 800-meter relay (Ethan Brown, Blake Henry, Nathan Jackson; 1:33.62) and 400 relay (Kenneth Salcido, Jackson, Ryan Chen; 45.96).
Van Wert also scored well in the distance events. In the 3,200, Gage Chiles pulled away in the final four laps to win in 10:12.80.
“Today, with the weather, I was just trying to go out as hard as I could,” Chiles said. “I was hoping to go under five (minutes) in the first mile. … I think I was 4:59, 5:00. So, I was pretty good for the first mile. Then, I just wanted to hang on. I did just that.”
Upper Scioto Valley’s Brady Hipsher did the challenging 800/1,600 double Saturday.
After just getting edged out by Bluffton’s Jackson Steinmetz in the 1,600, Hipsher bounced back and won the 800, just beating Cory-Rawson’s Deontae Davis at the finish line. Hipsher’s winning time in the 800 was 2:06.92, while Davis crossed in 2:06.99.
“I wanted to push it in that first lap (800), but I had to use a lot of energy in that mile (1,600),” Hipsher said. “It was a close race. I was happy with about 300 (meters) to go. I just kind of sat back with 100 meters to go, and I thought I could out-kick him in the end. So, that’s what I waited for.”
The Spencerville girls were balanced Saturday, scoring well in the field events and on the track.
Nelaya Burden, a Division III state-placer in the 100 hurdles and state qualifier in the 300 hurdles last season, won the 100 hurdles (15.02), and placed second in the 300 hurdles (49.17) Saturday. Bath’s Caitlyn Renner avenged her loss to Burden in the 100 hurdles earlier in the day, by coming back and winning the 300 hurdles (47.17).
Spencerville won the 800 relay (Gillian Goecke, Ariana McMichael, Raigan Staup, Lilyan Goecke; 1:51.30) and 400 relay (Gillian Goecke, Ariana McMichael, Raigan Staup, Nelaya Burden; 52.30).
“I’m pretty happy,” Spencerville coach Tim Wilson said. “They’re a little tired. It’s a long meet for us. The conference meet is this coming week, and we are expecting good things there.
“(It’s) one last hard work out. Next week, we’ll do a few different things. We’ll put some people in different races and see what we can do. (Columbus) Grove has won it (Northwest Conference title) the last few years and we would really like to knock them off. So, we’ll see how it goes.”
In the throws Saturday, Van Wert’s duo of Kirsten Clay (Austin Clay’s sister) and Jill Gemmer, racked up big points for the Cougars.
In the discus, Clay won with a mark of 137-2, while Gemmer was second with a toss of 130-8. In the shot put, it was Clay winning with a put of 37-2 ¼ and Gemmer was second (35-10 ¾).
Last season, Gemmer placed eighth in the Division III state meet in the shot put competing for Delphos St. John’s.
Clay is looking forward to a very competitive WBL meet this Wednesday and Friday, especially in the discus. Along with her and Gemmer, Clay feels Ottawa-Glandorf’s Grace Hoffman will be battling for a title in the discus.
“She’s right there with us,” Clay said about Hoffman. “The WBL record is right there with us (132 feet). So, someone is probably going to get it.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.