ADA — Depth will usually win out.
The Van Wert boys track-and-field team showcased its depth Saturday, as it ran away from the competition for the team title at the 59th annual Ada Invitational.
Van Wert outscored second-place Arlington 133 – 76 to garner the first-place hardware. Bluffton finished a very close third (75), while Kenton and Allen East both scored 72 points to round out the top five squads in the 16-team field.
On the girls side, Carey slipped past Spencerville, 112.33 – 102.5 for the team title. Van Wert (99), Kenton (96) and New Knoxville (58) rounded out the top five teams.
The Van Wert boys team opened up on the track Saturday with a victory in the 3,200-meter relay. The Cougars (Gage Wannemacher, Trey Laudick, Gage Springer, Hunter Sherer) clocked a winning time of 8 minutes, 33.02 seconds. The closest competitor was Allen East (9:03.57).
That win for Van Wert seemed to set the tone.
Gage Wannemacher, who was part of Van Wert’s 3,200 relay, came back later in the day and won the 3,200-meter run in a time of 10:22.93.
In the 3,200, Wannemacher had to reel in Allen East’s Hunter Sidle in order to garner the win. Sidle jumped out to a commanding lead, early on. However, Wannemacher patiently cut the gap and then with about 250 meters to go in the race, pulled away from Sidle (10:26.50) for the win.
“I’ve raced him (Sidle) before. He’s pretty good,” Wannemacher said. “I just tried to stay at a consistent (pace) for the entire race, and then tried to speed it up at the end. I knew I had to catch him, because we’re always going back and forth, it seems like.
“I did start to panic (about the gap) about laps six and seven, but I started to push it. I was tired, but I just pushed through it.”
Earlier in the day, Wannemacher finished fourth in the 1,600 (4:44.86), while Sidle was fifth (4:56.22).
Wannemacher is especially excited about his team’s chances in the 3,200 relay.
“We want to win districts, hopefully win the regionals and make it to state,” Wannemacher said.
Tyson Jackson scored big points for Van Wert on Saturday as he won the 110-meter hurdles (16.65 seconds) and finished third in the 300 hurdles (46.07).
Connor Pratt pulled away for the win in the 400 for Van Wert (52.34).
Trey Laudick, who also was a key cog in Van Wert’s 3,200 relay, won the 200 (23.54).
Laudick also teamed up with Ethan Brown, Nate Phillips and Pratt in the winning 1,600 relay (3:30.74).
In the boys 800 meters, Bluffton’s Simon Derstine led from start to finish, en route to a winning time of 1:58.44, which was a personal best for Derstine.
Derstine has been hampered with some nagging injuries this season. However, on Saturday, the Bluffton senior put it all together in the 800.
“Coach and I talked strategy,” Derstine said. “Coming into this, I was trying to get a PR. So, I had to get out and take the lead, and then just try to maintain on the final 200. I tried not to look back. I just kept my eyes forward and pushed myself.”
In the boys 1,600, Upper Scioto Valley senior Zack Britton took control of the race, and went on to record a winning time of 4:36.57, which was also a personal best for Britton. Bluffton’s Eden Antrim (4:38.05) and USV’s Joe Parker (4:40.99) were close behind.
Britton felt like he needed to get out and grab the early lead in Saturday’s 1,600.
“That was my strategy (get the early lead), because I’m a 2-miler (3,200), not necessarily a miler,” Britton said. “So, I knew I couldn’t leave it up to a sprint to the finish. Those guys are quick. I know they could have outsprinted me. So, I knew I was going to have to take it to them from the start. Like I said, I couldn’t leave it up to a sprint to the finish.”
Britton, who is headed to the University of Findlay next year to run, said his coach wanted to shake things up a little bit. Normally, Britton will run the 3,200.
“I’m doing the 800 today (instead of 3,200),” Britton said. “Coach wants to keep me kind of fresh for the postseason – to make sure I’m not expending too much energy before it. So, we’re kind of backing off on the distance. I wanted to run a good mile (on Saturday). Then I’m doing the 800 and 4-by-4 (1,600 relay), just for a speed workout.”
For the Van Wert girls squad, sophomore Saylor Wise won the 800 in an impressive time of 2:27.23, while Spencerville’s Lillee Stewart was a close second (2:29.12).
“I just stayed with her for the first 400 (meters),” Wise said about her strategy in the 800. “Then once we hit the finish of the first 400, I started to separate. … Then, I just gave it my all.”
Stewart scored well for Spencerville. The junior distance runner also finished third in the 1,600 (5:39.81), was part of the 1,600 relay (second, 4:15.92) and was the anchor of the 3,200 relay (third, 10:52.04).
Spencerville’s 400 relay (Gillian Goecke, Ariana McMichael, Lilyan Goecke, Claire Hoback) won in 52.20.
Hoback won the 100-meter dash for the Bearcats (13.39) and finished third in the 200 (28.64).
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