DEFIANCE — At last week’s Western Buckeye League Championships, the Van Wert boys track-and-field team scored in nearly every event, en route to a league title.
This week at the Division II district meet at Defiance’s Fred Brown Stadium, it was deja vu, as Van Wert came away with the district title.
The top four placers in each event at this week’s district meet, qualified for this coming week’s regional meet at Piqua, which runs Thursday and Saturday.
Then, the top four placers in each event at Piqua move on to compete at the state meet at Ohio State, on May 31 and June 1.
“It was a good week,” longtime Van Wert boys coach Mark Collins said. “They came in, qualified in some events and ran well. We’re looking forward to next week.
“The way we approach it, is that it’s the top four (placers) in everything. So, next week, it’s the top four again. … That’s all that matters. If you get fourth or first, you still get the chance to go race the next week.”
Van Wert out-scored second-place Elida, 92-73, to garner the district title. Toledo Central Catholic finished third (64), while Bryan was fourth (61) in the 15-team field.
On the girls’ side, Coldwater notched the title, scoring 78.50 points. Toledo Central Catholic was second (69), while Defiance (61) and Elida (51) rounded out the top four squads in the 18-team field.
Just like last week at the WBL Championships, the Van Wert boys got a great start by scoring well in the field events.
In the boys shot put on Wednesday, Austin Clay won with a record-breaking mark of 56-6 ½. Clay broke the district record on his first toss of Wednesday’s finals. Clay’s personal best is 59-2 ¾.
Clay also won the district title a year ago in the shot put.
Friday night, Clay won the discus with a toss of 158-11.
“That was ideal, but I had some problems getting up on the finish,” Clay said about his performance in Wednesday’s shot put. “I did what I needed to do in order to compete, and I tried to do my best.”
The Central Michigan-bound Clay has set high goals for his senior season.
“I hope to be a regional champ, and hopefully hit a high 50 (feet) there. Then, hopefully, I’ll bring out a 60 (-footer) at state,” he said.
In Friday’s high jump, Van Wert’s Blake Henry won with a height of 6 feet, 2 inches.
On the track Friday night, Van Wert scored well in most events.
Van Wert’s 800-meter relay (Ethan Brown, Blake Henry, Nathan Jackson, Jacob Hart) won in a time of 1:31.77.
On Wednesday, Van Wert’s 3200 relay (Trey Laudick, Gage Chiles, Anake Steyer, Hunter Sherer) finished second in 8:27.30.
The Cougars were just edged out in the 3,200 relay by Ottawa-Glandorf (Garret Croy, Ian Fenbert, Josh Rosengarten, Connor Niese) with a time of 8:27.03.
The Elida boys’ 400 relay (Dravyn Jones, Cameron Fetter, Nazareus Wright, Arzaiah Little) broke the district record in Wednesday’s semifinals, clocking a time of 42.97 seconds. In Friday’s finals, the same Elida tandem won in 43.14.
In Friday’s 100 finals, Jones and Little took first and second, respectively, for Elida. Jones’ winning time of 11:03 was a new district record. Little came in second (11.19).
“It was a good 100,” Jones said. “I tried to really explode at the beginning and I was trying to finish strong, because my de-acceleration phase is usually my worse phase. So, I tried to keep it strong and apparently I did.”
Little went on to finish second in the 200 (22.44).
“We went 1-2 on Wednesday (100 semifinals), but we got better times today,” Little said.
Elida’s KeShawn Spivey won the 110 hurdles (14.49) and finished third in the 300 hurdles (40.73) Friday night. Right before Friday’s 110 hurdle finals, Spivey notched an eighth-place finish in the high jump (5-10). Wednesday night, Spivey placed third in the long jump (21-7 ¾ ).
Spivey said he is getting used to the transition from doing the jumping events to competing in the hurdles.
“It’s pretty tough, but I was pretty warmed up from jumping,” Spivey said. “It sort of carries over.”
On the girls side, Elida’s Kylie Lewis won the 100 (12.53). Lewis also anchored Elida’s 400 relay (Jency Jenkins, Jasmine Jones, Epifany Johnson) that placed second (50.66). Elida’s time broke the old district record. However, Toledo Central Catholic’s winning time of 49.94, also broke the meet record.
Lewis was surprised she won the district title in the 100.
“I stumbled out of the blocks (in the 100), but I just pushed as hard as I could to catch up,” Lewis said with a grin.
Bath’s Caitlyn Renner won the 300 hurdles (46.72), took second in the 100 hurdles (16.15) and was fifth in the long jump (16-2 ½ ).
Renner said she isn’t too concerned about the competitors around her.
“I never really know how far back they are,” Renner said. “I just tell myself to keep pushing, try not to stutter on the last hurdles and try to get through them.”
On Wednesday, Van Wert had two discus throwers break the girls district record. Jill Gemmer won the discus with a mark of 142 feet, 2 inches. Teammate Kirsten Clay was second with a toss of 135-4. Both marks were better than the old record of 133-9. Gemmer broke the district record on her very first throw Wednesday.
Ottawa-Glandorf’s Grace Hoffman finished third, just missing the record with a toss of 133 feet.
Both Gemmer and Clay thrive on competing against one another.
“It wouldn’t be the same without it,” Gemmer said. “I think it helps a lot. It’s friendly competition, but we’re always supporting each other.”
Added Clay, “We like being in the same flight, but we can take being in separate flights, too.”
Friday night, Gemmer won the shot put (40-9 ½), while Clay placed third (38-10).
On Wednesday, Elida’s Jaeanna Hughes won the high jump (5-1), which tied the district record.