CELINA – It’s been a long wait.
After the spring track-and-field season came to a screeching halt last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, area high school track athletes have been anxiously waiting to lace up their spikes.
The wait is over.
The Celina track-and-field program made the most of the long layoff, as the Bulldogs came away with some hardware at Saturday’s Celina Invitational.
The Celina girls squad took first place in the seven-team field, outscoring Western Buckeye League-foe Ottawa-Glandorf 133.50-119, for the team title. Decatur Bellmont (Ind.) finished a close third (109.50). Kenton (88), Elida (81), Defiance (77) and Ottoville (36) rounded out the field.
On the boys side, Bellmont won the team title, defeating second-place Celina 149.5-125.5. Defiance finished a close third (110). Kenton (88), O-G (85), Ottoville (64) and Elida (32) rounded out the seven-team field.
Celina head track coach Eric Wagner said the journey back to the track has been a challenging one. Wagner’s program did compete against Spencerville earlier in the week, but Saturday was Celina’s first invitational of the season.
“It was kind of good to get something under your belt – to get some times to work with,” Wagner said. “We’re a little dinged up. We’re still dealing with some injuries. It’s early season. So, we expect that. Of course, when you don’t have a season (last year), people now realize how hard track actually is. We were not prepared, coming in.
“Overall, the girls won. They did very well. We covered enough events; and with scoring eight places and having three in each event, it also changes your point total a little bit. With the guys, we got second to a very good Bellmont team. They had some good stuff in pretty much every event. We saw some good things out of the other WBL (Western Buckeye League) schools. There’s a lot of talent out there. We’ll just have to look at things and tweak it a little bit.”
The Dameron sisters from Celina – Kaylie and Joscelyn – scored a good number of points in the distance events for the Bulldogs.
In the 1,600, Kaylie Dameron won with a time of 5 minutes, 45.43 seconds. Joscelyn finished second in 5:59.67. The one/two finish from the Dameron sisters in the 1,600 earned Celina 18 points.
In the 3,200, Joscelyn Dameron won in 13:05.28, in very windy conditions. In the 800, Kaylie Dameron took second (2:37.39)
Ottawa-Glandorf sophomore Alexa Fortman won the 800 in a stellar time of 2:22.91.
Fortman also was on the 1,600-meter relay (first), 800 relay (second) and 3,200 relay (second).
This past Tuesday in a quad meet, Fortman broke the 400-meter school record, when she recorded a winning time of 57.49 seconds.
On Saturday, Fortman ran away from the pack early in the 800, en route to the win.
“It (the time) was a little slower with the wind, but that was expected,” Fortman said. “I wanted to get away from the pack, and just go run my race.”
Elida senior Ephifany Johnson had a stellar day Saturday.
Johnson won the long jump with a mark of 15 feet, 4 inches. She also was part of the winning 400 relay and 800 relay teams for Elida. She also placed sixth in the 100-meter dash.
Johnson said she was aiming for her all-time personal best in the long jump (16-3).
“I’m pretty happy. I just wanted to break my PR from two years ago,” Johnson said.
On the boys side, Elida’s Conner Douglass won the pole vault with a winning clearance of 11-6. This past Tuesday in a quad meet, Douglass cleared 13 feet.
Saturday’s windy conditions did not make things any easier for the pole vaulters.
“I don’t want to make any excuses,” Douglass said. “It was kind of a crosswind. Crosswinds and headwinds are not good for pole vaulting, but we did the most with it.
“I knew I won (the pole vault) when the other guys got out after 11 (feet), and I got 11-6. So, I moved it up to 12-6. The plan was to get 12-6 and then move up to 13-3 and try for a PR. At 12-6, I was getting height, but I was hitting it on the way up.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.