HARROD — This is an exciting time of the year for high school track-and-field athletes.
If you’re a track athlete from Columbus Grove, it’s been extra special.
Columbus Grove’s track-and-field program is coming off an impressive performance at the Putnam County League Meet (Friday, May 3), winning both the girls and boys team titles.
Saturday, at the Northwest Conference Championships at Allen East, Columbus Grove came away with two more conference titles as both the girls and boys teams notched NWC titles.
The Columbus Grove girls have now won six consecutive Northwest Conference titles. The Columbus Grove boys have won back-to-back NWC titles.
In the girls competition, Columbus Grove ended the two-day meet with 211 points, while second-place Spencerville tallied 143 points. Lincolnview (79.5), Bluffton (72) and Allen East (54) rounded out the top five squads in the nine-team field.
On the boys side, Columbus Grove defeated second place Bluffton, 138.5-106.5. Lincolnview (105), Paulding (75) and Crestview (65) rounded out the top five teams.
Following the competiton there was a question raised regarding the team totals. NWC Commissioner James Raabe later confirmed the results were correct.
The Columbus Grove girls were balanced, scoring well in both the field events and running events.
“They did really well,” longtime Columbus Grove girls coach Tim Staley said. “Alyssa Ellerbrock won three individual events today and was on the winning (3,200 meter) relay on Thursday. To have Erin Downing (finishing) second in the 1,600 and the 800 – getting the 18 points is huge in a meet like this. We also got 18 points out of the shot put. We had Kennedy Flores get a PR (39-9) and Madisyn Maag also got a PR (37-5 ½). Kennedy went 39 feet for the first time. Madisyn was a little disappointed she didn’t win, but she didn’t mind too much that her teammate beat her.
“Rylee Sybert ran really well in the 100, 200 and 400; and then we were second in the four-by-four (1,600 relay). So, she had a good day. All the girls performed well. We scored in every event, and in some events we scored twice. … That’s huge.”
Ellerbrock was part of Thursday’s winning 3,200 relay team. Then on Saturday, Ellerbrock won the 1,600 (5:29.67), 800 (2:27.29) and 3,200 (12:21.92). Ellerbrock won the same events at last week’s PCL Meet.
“They put me back in the same four events, because they knew it might be close in the team standings,” Ellerbrock said. “It really helps to know that you have a team behind you. In the 800 and 2-mile, I wasn’t really feeling the greatest, but I knew I had to score points for my team. So, that kept me going.”
Sybert won the 100 (12.32), 200 (26.01) and 400 (1:01.16). She also was part of the 1,600 relay that finished second to Paulding.
Spencerville standout Nelaya Burden, a Division III state-placer, won the 100 hurdles Saturday in a stellar time of 14.51. Burden went on to win the 300 hurdles (48.65), and place second in the 100 (12.44) and 200 (26.80).
“The unofficial time (100 hurdles) was the same as my state time last year,” Burden said. “So, this is exciting to have the same time that I got last year. That was my goal – to be faster than I was last year. So, I’m already on the right track.”
Like their counterparts, the Columbus Grove boys got it done on the track and in the field events.
The Bulldogs started the meet off strong by winning Thursday’s 3,200 relay (8:20.98).
Columbus Grove scored big points in the throws. Ethan Halker won the discus with a mark of 150 feet, 2 inches. Teammate Hunter Roethlisberger won the shot put with a mark of 50-6.
The Bulldogs went 1-2 in the high jump. Zeke Halker and Gabe Clement both cleared 5-10, but Halker won, based on the number of misses.
In the pole vault, Clement took first with a height of 12-0. Teammate Evan Hopkins placed third (11-0).
“We had good performances. … We had a good two days,” longtime Columbus Grove boys coach Chris Grothaus said. “We got off to a good start on Thursday. The high jump was big. The four-by-eight (3,200 relay) ran really, really well. They PR’d in that.
“I think the thing that really helped was that Lincolnview came over to our invitational, and they woke us up. They are good. (Lincolnview head coach) Matt (Langdon) has done such a great job with that program. It made us realize that we had to get better.”
At the Columbus Grove Bulldog Invitational on April 12, Lincolnview took first, while Columbus Grove finished third out of 13 teams.
Lincolnview’s Alek Bowersock was a workhorse this week.
On Saturday, Bowersock won the 1,600 (4:37.01), was third in the 800 (2:07.48) and was part of the 1,600 relay that placed fifth.
“I paced myself off those Grove guys,” Bowersock said, in reference to winning the 1,600. “I knew they were pretty good. In cross country, I always liked to finish that last mile strong. So, that third and fourth lap (Saturday’s 1,600), I really tried to pass them and move on.”
Bowersock’s teammate, Karter Tow, pulled away late in Saturday’s 3,200 and went on to win in a seasonal-best time of 10:07.85.
“This is the first time this season, where I’ve ran just the 2-mile (3,200 meters) at a meet,” Tow said. “So, it was a different feeling coming in today. You’re usually loose from running that 1,600 prior to this. Going into the 3,200 fresh is a different feeling. So, my goal was to see how the race would turn out. I know the Grove guys and Bluffton guys. So, I just wanted to run with them and see what they were doing.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.