Columbus Grove sweeps NWC track championships

BLUFFTON – Winning track-and-field conference championships has become the norm for Columbus Grove.

At Saturday’s Northwest Conference Championships at Bluffton University’s Salzman Stadium, Columbus Grove was true to form.

The Columbus Grove boys team notched its sixth consecutive Northwest Conference team title on Saturday as it scored 162 points, compared to Bluffton’s 123 points. Lincolnview finished third with 102 points. Ada (71.50), Spencerville (62.50), Allen East (59), Crestview (44), Leipsic (31) and Delphos Jefferson (6) rounded out the field of nine teams.

On the girls side, Columbus Grove won its second consecutive NWC team title in decisive fashion on Saturday. The Bulldogs outscored Bluffton 173.50-127 for the team crown, while Spencerville finished third (104.83). Lincolnview (87.33), Allen East (52), Delphos Jefferson (51), Ada (39.33), Crestview (18) and Leipsic (14) rounded out the field.

“Bluffton has a nice team,” longtime Columbus Grove boys head coach Chris Grothaus said. “We knew that Bluffton was going to give us all they got. They had one of their sprinters hurt, and we had Zach (Reynolds, hurdler and sprinter) hurt. So, it kind of evened out.

“We got out to a good start in the field events. We had a couple surprises that we weren’t expecting. With the field events, we came out a little better than what we thought we would. So, that helps a bunch.”

Columbus Grove’s Loudon Auchmuty won the boys discus. Auchmuty’s winning mark was 147 feet, 10 inches. Trevon Baxter won the pole vault with a winning height of 13 feet, while teammate Conner Amstutz placed second (12-0). Jarrod Holland won the high jump (6-2) for the Bulldogs.

Columbus Grove kept the momentum going on the track.

Luke Ellerbrock led the way with victories in the 1,600 and 3,200.

In the 1,600, Ellerbrock led from start to finish, en route to a winning time of 4 minutes, 36.58 seconds. Bluffton’s Theo Andreas finished second (4:40.92), while Columbus Grove’s Levi Bryan was a close third (4:43.08).

In the 3,200, Ellerbrock jumped out with a commanding lead right away, and then pulled away for a winning time of 9:55.69. Teammate Evan Pitts finished a distant second (10:31.07).

Ellerbrock said that with Saturday’s very windy conditions, running a personal best was not in his game plan, especially in the 3,200.

“I was just kind of blocking the wind for him (Pitts), I guess,” Ellerbrock said with a grin. “There wasn’t much of a strategy, race pace or anything. I just went out there and ran. Both of us knew we were going to get one-two. … We did that. The wind did not help.

“Having nobody to block it (the wind), you had to run into the wind every time. … So, you get all of it. It slows you down a bunch, obviously. It takes so much energy out of you.”

Ellerbrock said that with the postseason tournament starting this coming week at the Division III district meet at Ada (Thursday and Saturday), he plans on running both the 1,600 and 3,200.

“That’s the plan for next week. I’ll do the 16 (1,600 meters) and 32 (3,200 meters), take another shot at our school record in the 1,600 and then run the 3,200. I’ll probably focus on the 3,200 after districts, but I don’t know for sure yet,” Ellerbrock said.

At last year’s Division III state meet, Ellerbrock finished fourth in the 3,200 (9:28.12).

Grothaus feels like his team’s success at Saturday’s NWC meet could help propel his athletes to a solid performance at the district meet. The top four placers in each event at the district meet will advance to the regional meet. Then, the top four placers in each event at regionals will automatically qualify for the state meet.

“Our sprint relays are good, timewise. They continue to get better. Along as we finish in the top two or three in the sprint relays, we get good points in this conference meet. And this is a good conference. This makes us better, heading into next week’s district meet,” Grothaus said.

The Columbus Grove girls team was dominant on Saturday.

Lauryn Auchmuty, a junior, led the way for the Bulldogs as she won the pole vault (10-6), long jump (15-8.50) and 200 (26.94 seconds). Auchmuty also was on the winning 400-meter relay (Allison Thompson, Kendal Palte, Auchmuty, Jade Roeder; 51.15).

Last year, Auchmuty was a Division III state qualifier in the 400 relay. Her freshman season, she placed fifth in the pole vault (11-8).

“My goal is to just get there (to the state meet),” Auchmuty said. “Hopefully, I can get there in pole vault again. … We’ll see what the relays can do. I’ll just take it day by day and see what’s best.”

Columbus Grove girls head coach Abbie Norton said that Saturday’s victory will definitely give her team the confidence it needs as the postseason begins this coming week.

“We came off a really tough loss last week to Kalida (second place to Kalida at the Putnam County League Meet),” Norton said. “So, they were hungry for this one. They didn’t want to do that again. The thing about it, they did exactly what they needed to do. They came in and just competed hard. And that’s what we told them. We said, ‘Don’t worry about your times. Just go out there and compete. And if you do that, we’re going to be just fine’.

“I think we scored two (athletes) in all but maybe four events. We scored in every single event, and we weren’t expecting that across the board. We had some young girls step up. We had one (Auchmuty) that won all the events she did – all four of them. So, we had a lot of solid performances as we move into the postseason.”

Columbus Grove’s 800 relay (Devanie Pingle, Allison Thompson, Bree Closson, Jade Roeder) won in 1:51.48. Roeder won the 400 (1:02.96).

Moody earns gold in four events

Lincolnview’s Brynleigh Moody won the 1,600 (5:30.10), 800 (2:27.13), 3,200 (12:42.38), and was the anchor leg of the winning 3,200 relay (Brooklyn Byrne, Ava Milligan, Kendall Hoffman, Moody; 10:23.75).

Last year as a freshman, Moody was a Division III state qualifier in the 1,600.

Jefferson’s Lindeman coming back from an injury

Delphos Jefferson senior and Tiffin University commit Lyv Lindeman injured her foot during this past basketball season.

On Saturday, Lindeman competed at the NWC Championships in four events.

Lindeman won the 100 hurdles (15.39), placed third in the 100 (13.01) and finished ninth in the 300 hurdles after a rare fall over a hurdle, early on. She also anchored the 400 relay (Nepthalie Miller, Brooklyn Wallace, Nakiyah Kimmett, Lindeman) that finished second (52.03).

At last year’s Division III state meet, Lindeman placed third in the 100 hurdles and was fourth in the 300 hurdles. At the state meet as a sophomore, Lindeman placed ninth in the 100 hurdles and competed in the 300 hurdles.

“It’s been a while, but I’m just happy to be out here,” Lindeman said with a grin. “I thought I would come to the (Columbus) Grove meet (4/15) and just try it. But after the 100 hurdles (at Columbus Grove), it was like I knew it wasn’t smart to try to push through. So, we shut it down after that. We started building it up. I did nothing for two weeks but babying it and trying to recover from it.

“We spent a lot of time in the weight room – and biking of course. I was doing like 10 miles a day on the bike. Just being around track was a little difficult at first. I think after today, it just told myself, ‘Hey, you can do it. You’re going to get faster. It’s only going to go up from here.’”

Bluffton’s Stackhouse battling back

Last year, Bluffton’s Griffin Stackhouse was unable to compete due to a spine injury.

On Saturday, Stackhouse let the NWC know that he was back, and was ready to compete at a high level as he won the 100 (11.23), 200 (23.04) and anchored the winning 800 relay (Gavin Bogart, Kizer Young, Carson Kruse, Stackhouse; 1:32.77).

“Last year, I actually did not have a season. I fractured my spine over the winter,” Stackhouse said. “I was out for about eight months. I wore a back brace for a solid six or seven months. I wasn’t able to do anything. It’s definitely harder, mentally, knowing that you can’t go out and do what your friends are doing. I knew that it was going to take a lot of work, but I knew that I had it in me. And I knew that I could work really hard in the off-season. I knew it was all possible.”

Allen East’s Jones shines on the track

Allen East’s Rilynn Jones won the 300 hurdles (47.74), placed second in the 100 hurdles (15.59), fourth in the 200 (27.63) and was on the 800 relay (Aubrey Young, Evelyn Lehman, Jones, Rylie Jordan) that finished third (1:53.94) on Saturday.

Last year as a sophomore, Jones placed fifth in the 300 hurdles (46.09) at the Division III state track meet. As a freshman, Jones was a Division III state qualifier in the 300 hurdles.

“I would love to make it down to state in the 100 (hurdles) and 300 (hurdles), and hopefully get a podium finish this year too,” Jones said.

**Complete results for the Northwest Conference Championships are on milesplit.oh.