For the Avon girls track and field team, the seeds for a Division I District three-peat were planted May 15 and harvested Friday at Amherst High School.
Indeed, two days is a fast turnaround for such an accomplishment. But the Eagles have proven to be a fast team, and they scored 127 points to win the District meet over second-place Magnificat (75), and qualified 12 athletes in 12 different events for this week’s Regional meet at the same location.
The top four placers in each event advanced. The girls District field consisted of 14 teams.
“It’s a dream because this year, after (winning) the conference, for this senior class it’s been a special four years, having been so successful,” Eagles senior Jules Frombach said. “It's definitely icing on the cake, and I know a lot of girls had a good day today.”
The Eagles, who won the Southwestern Conference championship in Amherst a week earlier, had six athletes advance to Regionals in multiple events. Frombach finished fourth in the 800-meter run (2:20.59), and helped lead the 4x400 (4:01.94) and 4x800 (9:48.44) relay teams to first- and fourth-place finishes, respectively. Fellow senior Elizabeth Flynn took second in the 100 (12.7 seconds) and 400 (59.04) while winning the long jump (17 feet, ½ inch).
Senior Evelyn Pelfrey (800, 4x400, 4x800) and sophomores Juliet Goodelle (300 hurdles, 4x400) and Gaby Enourato (200, 4x100, 4x400) were also multi-event qualifiers. For the second week in a row, sophomore Molly Radcliffe won both the shot put (41-06) and discus throw (130-05).
Magnificat edged out third-place Avon Lake by one point in the team standings (75-74), and advanced five individuals and three relay teams to Regionals. Senior Lindsay Bush won a District title in the 800 (2:17.9), senior Emily Connor won the pole vault (11-00) and junior Ailish Chambers won the 300 hurdles (44.85).
“I actually (ran a personal best time) for the first time in weeks (in the 300 hurdles) and that’s been one of my goals for a really long time,” Chambers said. “I feel like it was a really good race for me today.”
The Shoregals crowned a lone District champion in senior Erica Wetzler, who won the 400 (59.01), and qualified for nine Regional events.
Following fourth-place Amherst (68 points) were Rocky River (61) and Olmsted Falls (53). The Pirates received a big contribution from freshman Sam Coleman, who won the 3200 (11:27.45) and helped the 4x800 relay team to a win (9:34.9) along with Allison Contenza, Aoife Zuercher and Katie Wojnowski. The 4x200 relay team of Sarah Mazzei, Lee Hornig, Lydia Brandt and Leah Schellentrager finished first (1:46.24).
The Bulldogs made Regionals in six events, and their top finisher of the afternoon was senior Maddie Boka in the 100 hurdles (15.73, second).
After seventh-place Elyria (44 points), Lorain (39), Bay (38.5), Westlake (31.5), Lakewood (19), North Olmsted (14), North Ridgeville (11) and Midview (5) rounded out the team standings. The Rockets will send three to Regionals (Maeve Milligan, Chloe Rickson, Kenna Johnston), all in field events. Rickson was the team’s top finisher, taking second in the long jump (17-00). Westlake qualified four athletes and secured a District champion in junior Teagan Walsh (5:24.03 in the 1,600). North Olmsted (DeAvion Anderson, discus) and North Ridgeville (Gemma Kilgore, 400) had one qualifier apiece.
Kilgore, a freshman, reached Friday’s finals in three events, eventually taking fourth in the 400 (1:00.11).
“The competition pushes everybody,” Kilgore said of her first varsity District meet. “You just try to run faster than the person next to you, who you’re pacing yourself with.”
In boys competition, St. Ignatius sprinted away from 15 other teams for 127 points and a District title. Elyria (70), Avon Lake (60), St. Edward (55) and Olmsted Falls (53) filled out the top five.
Leading a big day for the Shoremen was junior Danny Lambert, who continued to show off his speed by placing in the top three in three events, including a first-place finish in the 200 (22.32). Junior Justin Wirtz placed second in the shot put (53-11) and fourth in the discus (154-02) to make Regionals. In all, the Shoremen qualified for six Regional events.
“I wasn’t expecting to win (the 200), but it feels good, obviously,” Lambert said. “I’m just going to focus on next week, and hopefully the week after that.”
St. Edward will send athletes back to Amherst this week in seven different events, headlined by District champions Alex Hauptman (1:56.93 in the 800) and Grant Springer (6-02 in the high jump). Olmsted Falls senior Brennan Winkel won the pole vault for the second week in a row by reaching 14 feet-even, and will be joined by three other qualifiers.
Outside of the top five, Amherst (51 points), Rocky River (49), Bay (42), Avon (39), Midview (33), Lakewood (32), Lorain (21), Westlake (20), North Olmsted (6), North Ridgeville (3) and John Marshall (1) completed the standings. The Pirates totaled six Regional qualifiers, with several competing in multiple events.
Senior Daishaun Hill advanced in the 110 hurdles (15.0, third) and high jump (6-01, fourth), senior Michael Shoaf won the shot put (60-07) and discus (179-10) and the combination of Daniel Hornig, Ryan O’Donnell and Gabe Saad will make up three legs of the 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams.
“In the 110, I felt like I had a good day, but my time wasn’t quite where I wanted,” Hill said. “I’m going for the school record, which is 14.5 (seconds), but that’s actually more like 14.7 with the wind. I ran a 15, which is average for me. … The competition pushes me a lot, especially running next to someone like (Lakewood’s) Tyler Hannah. I’ve seen him many times this year and each time I’ve run beside him I hit a (personal best). And just the atmosphere, the competition is amazing.”
The Rockets, a State cross country placer in the fall, fittingly were successful in distance events. Senior Ivan Slyepkan placed second in the 800 (1:59.16) and 1600 (4:19.23), and was part of the third-place 4x800 team with Everst McKenna, Micah Aultand Khaled Hamil. Senior Jared Riess won a District title in the long jump (21-04.5).
Hannah, once again, took first in the 110 and 300 hurdles (14.46 and 38.78, respectively) to pace Lakewood, which made Regionals in four events. Avon juniors Joe Svec and Jake Wilson advanced in the shot put (third and fourth place, respectively), while Svec was second to Shoaf in the discus (168-01).
Westlake’s Austin Norris (300 hurdles) and North Olmsted’s Ben Tomcho (400) were their teams’ lone Regional qualifiers.
Regionals will begin this afternoon, with finals taking place Saturday starting at 4:30 p.m.
IRON SHARPENS IRON
In a rare moment of imperfect form, the shot-putting trio of Rocky River’s Michael Shoaf, Avon Lake’s Justin Wirtz and Avon’s Joe Svec all fouled on their first attempt of Friday’s finals.
Each one recovered though, making the most of their two remaining attempts. Shoaf, a Notre Dame track commit, went on to win the event by eclipsing 60 feet. Wirtz and Svec followed in order, with Svec’s teammate and lifelong friend Jake Wilson taking fourth.
Along with Amherst’s Jaret Prete (fifth place) and the likes of St. Ignatius’ Aiden Wells (sixth) and Olmsted Falls’ Trae Henderson (seventh), the throwing events have only become more difficult with each passing week. The athletes see each other often during the regular season, and Prete will join Wirtz, Svec and Shoaf next week in Amherst for Regionals, where the foursome will compete in both the shot put and discus.
It seems the quality of competition has served as motivation for each athlete, and they’re relishing the chance to test themselves against one another.
“In throwing, the competition is a huge benefit to me and everyone else because you have something to go up on,” Wirtz said. “I love competition, especially with Avon. Last week I took third at the SWC meet and was in the mix as well today.”
In the case of Svec and Wilson, that competition extends to daily practices.
“We’ve been friends since, probably, third grade,” Wilson said of Svec. “We’re crazy competitive. When he throws a good throw, I have to have a good throw, so we compete all practice. It’s fun. I think it makes us so much better.”
In the end, everyone may be chasing Shoaf, who is out to defend his Div. I State shot put title.
“They’re all great competitors, and they push me to be better for sure,” Shoaf said. “(Wirtz) threw a (personal best) today, that’s great. They all just push me and make me better.”
Magnificat junior Ailish Chambers said she was slow out of the blocks in the 300 hurdles, and watched as other runners quickly got ahead of her.
“I wasn’t the first one to the first hurdle, and that’s usually one of my goals in this race,” she said. “But that was a motivator for me to speed up and just continue going as fast as I can until the end.”
She refocused, gained a head of steam and sped into the lead, building a comfortable cushion on the way to a District title in 44.85 seconds. Despite the awkward start to the race, she finished almost three seconds faster than her first-place qualifying time two days before (47.07), and was nearly two full seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, Avon’s Juliet Goodelle.
Not bad for an athlete who is running track for the first time this season.
“I used to do spring basketball, so my spring was taken up by other sports, and then club soccer in eighth grade,” Chambers said. “I just recently stopped playing club, so I picked up (track), and I didn’t want to have any regrets before graduating high school and not being able to do something that I desired to do. I started doing this and I really like it.”
She’ll be busy at Regionals this week, as she will also compete as part of the Blue Streaks’ 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams.
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