CUYAHOGA FALLS: There is not a competitive athlete on the planet who enjoys having to settle for second place.
With Solon dominating the Walsh Jesuit Warrior Relays on Saturday morning and afternoon with 159 points, the battle for second place became a fascinating exercise in watching the competitive nature of the teams and athletes come through.
The host Warriors traded places back and forth with Stow and Green before coming through in the end to take second with 115 points, while Green and Stow tied for third with 104 points.
Coach Pat Ritchie watched his Warriors showcase talent in a variety of areas in spite of the Comets’ performance.
“We have close to 70 kids out and 28 competed today. It takes a lot of kids to run in this meet the way it has been designed,” Ritchie said. “You have three-man relays and it has a lot of kids involved.”
Ritchie likes the improvement he is seeing this season.
“We were a little young the past few years but these kids now are juniors and seniors and we are requiring a lot of them. We have a lot of sophomores and freshmen and that bodes nicely for the future.”
The Warriors were victorious in the distance medley as Will House, Nick Ondracek, Jordan Shepard and Brian Brennan dominated the event with a time of 11 minutes, 28 seconds, 37.09 seconds better than second-place Perry.
Brennan came back to win the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:48.18.
“He has a spring in his step and smile on his face. He is an easygoing, hard-working kid, one of the most competitive kids in the world with a wonderful attitude,” Ritchie said
Tony Howkins, the Warriors’ outstanding 1,600 runner, had targeted the 6-year-old meet record of 4:23.11 and proceeded to break it with a time of 4:22.16.
It was typical of the day for everyone, as Howkins was denied the record because Solon’s Kevin Blank edged him at the finish line and established a meet record of 4:22.16.
“That was expected that they would duel it out,” Ritchie said. “Tony is not happy and is very disappointed about losing in the 1,600. His cool down is running home from here [the stadium] and his house is not far from here.”
Stow won the 6,400 relay with Vince Morning, Matt Walker, Lucas Hunt and Nick Hall clocking 18:50.54, and Jeremy Wentz, Brian Beltz and Jonte Pooler collaborated to win the long jump relay at 57 feet, 4¾ inches.
“We had some good performances. A lot of our kids had personals bests and Nick Hall ran well in the 1,600,” Stow coach Mike Drozin said.
Andrew Pratt of Green won the 400 meters (51.01) and was the anchor of the winning 1,600 relay with Mike Kapeluck, Zachary Wieland and Seth Wieland
Green also won the 400 relay with Kapeluck, Kyle Finch, and the Wielands clocking 44.63.
Dan Whited of Green was the top individual pole vaulter, going over the bar at 12-6, though North Canton Hoover’s Dylan Sanderson, Noah Stanislaw and Blake Burgess won the team event with a combined 32-6.
Wadsworth, which tied Toledo St. John’s Jesuit for fifth place with 80 points, was led by Nick Winkler, who won the 800 and joined Nate Winkler, Jon Chamier and Tyler Hopkins on the winning 3,200 relay team. Grizzly teammate Mitch Gordon won the 300.
Xavier Hogan of Hoover was the individual winner of the long jump at 20-6¼.
Solon won five relays: the shot put, the discus throw, the 3,200, the 800 and the 440 shuttle hurdles, The Comets’ Rod Jackson won the 200 and Khoury Crenshaw the 100.
“Solon is going to be good all the way until the regional meet,” Ritchie added.
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