HUBER HEIGHTS — Not only did Wayne serve as the host site for the OHSAA Southwest District Division I track & field meet, the Wayne boys scored a dominating 131 points to take first place while the girls team finished third overall out of 12 schools with 86 points behind Troy (161) and Northmont (113).
For the boys team it was their third straight district title and 11th since 2003. The boys advanced in 14 of the 17 events to the regional, the most ever in Coach Michael Fernandez tenure as coach (over 28 years).
“That’s what I preached to the kids,” Fernandez said. “We wanted to advance first, so top four was the goal. Anything higher is a plus.”
Individual District Champions for Wayne included:
Joel Crain – shot put 53-feet, 3.25 inches, discus 149-feet, 9-inches.
“Joel continues to dominate in the shot put. His discus improves as well,” Fernandez said “He will be a threat this week at the regionals to advance on to Columbus. He’s ready to pop a big throw soon.”
Lucas Houk – 1600 meter run 4:28.66.
“Lucas is running with some confidence right now. I think he believes he can run with anyone. He’s peaking at the right time,” Fernandez noted.
4×800 meter relay – Jalil Pollard, Henry Jones, Jacob Miller, Houk: 8:17.02
“This is our best time of the season in the 4×800, but we’ll have to run even faster at the regionals. Jalil led off with a personal best of 2:00 for his leg, and Lucas anchored with a blistering 1:57 for his leg.”
Zarik Brown advances individually in the 100 meter dash (10.95, second place) and the 200 meter dash (3rd place, 22.48).
“Zarik is running well, and continues to improve.”
Justin Harris ran 14.55 (actually 14.546) to place second in the 110 hurdles behind champion Dyier Smith of Springfield, also 14.55 (actually 14.541).
“It was Justin best technical race, but he’s still has some improvement as well. He’s so strong between the hurdles. I think his best race is still to come,” Fernandez commented.
Harris and Brown teamed up with Caleb Butcher and Kevin Wright to place second in the 4×200 meter relay, running 1:29.83. The relay was fortunate to even have the opportunity to compete, because in Wednesday’s qualifier, they dropped the baton, and only was able to recover to be the 7th place time going in. So from lane 8 in the finals, they ran a determined race, and almost won.
“We were fortunate that we were still able to get into the finals, but told them that once I knew we made it to make it count,” Fernandez said. “Being able to qualify from lane 8 was huge, because now our kids know that it doesn’t matter what lane we’re in, we just need an opportunity. Brown and Harris ran incredible splits in the race.”
Brown, Harris, Wright and Devonte Jackson-Reddick also placed 2nd in the 4×100 meter relay, running 43.70.
“It wasn’t our best race for sure, but we did what we needed to do to advance. When all of our exchanges are on, we can go under 43 seconds, and we will have to run that to advance past regionals.”
Harris ran one more relay, the 4×400 and teamed with Pollard, Jones and Terrion McGhee to place 2nd in 3:27.72.
“We were down to our 5th and 6th 400 runners, but still managed to advance. I think we can run faster. We will have to if we want to get to Columbus.”
In the pole vault, senior Kristin Liljuson tied his personal best and advanced by taking 3rd, clearing 13-feet. “Kristin continues to improve. I’m just so proud of how his season has progressed.”
Also advancing were
Lucas Houk, 800 meter run, 3rd place, 1:59.79.
Joseph Collins, 400 meter dash, 4th place, 52.26 seconds.
Jalil Pollard, 300 hurdles, 4th place, 40.29 seconds.
Ben Jackson, shot put, 4th place, 52-feet, 3.25-inches.
Placing in top 8 were
Caleb Butcher, 200 meters, 7th place, 23.01.
Terrion McGhee 110 hurdles, 8th place, 15.61; 300 hurdles, 6th place, 40.99.
Henry Jones IV, 400 meters, 5th place, 53.03.
Ben Jackson discus, 5th place, 142-feet, 9-inches.
Jacob Miller 3200 meters, 5th place, 10:27.37.
“It’s a nice way to rebound from last week’s GWOC meet,” Fernandez added. “The kids ran and competed well. I believe our kids are buying into what we’ve been training and are starting to see the results. It’s always nice to win a team title, and even sweeter to do it at your home venue.”
The girls team also had several athletes excel at district.
Graysen Simmons set a district meet record in the pole vault to win the district title at 12-feet.
“Simmons cleared 12 feet, breaking the old mark of 11-feet, 10-inches, set by Harmony Kolling of Greenville, in 2014,” Fernandez noted.
“Graysen has vaulted well these past few meets. She’s determined to get to the state meet, and she’s riding some good confidence right now.”
Simmons also placed 4th in the high jump, leaping 4-feet, 10-inches to advance.
Junior Taylor Robertson placed second in the long jump at 15-feet, 10.75-inches and 2nd in the 100 hurdles (15.63). Both marks weren’t her best, but were enough to get her to the next meet.
“Taylor was a trooper this meet,” Fernandez noted. “She had some unfortunate complications that slowed her down physically, but she’s the strongest person mentally that I’ve had the privilege to be around. She was determined to fight through and qualify out.”
Senior sprinter Amani Westry had a career day, winning the 100 meter dash in a personal best time of 12.66. Westry also took second in the 200 meter dash, running another personal best of 26.17 seconds.
“Amani was one determined sprinter. Her performance was absolutely incredible. Her hard work is paying off.”
Westry also helped the 4×200 relay (1:49.01) and 4×100 (50.86) also advance to the regionals, both placing 4th. Running in the 4×200 were Amaya Howard, Kaniya McGowan and Diamond Jones. Running in the 4×100 were Graysen Simmons, Makayla Portis and Charity Miller.
The 4×800 meter relay team of Brooklyn Cassidy, Madi Cochren, Kristen Hoelscher and Sabryna Creech ran a season’s best time of 10:28.49, good enough for 4th place and advancement to the regionals.
“I couldn’t have been happier for these four young ladies. They ran strong and determined,” Fernandez commented.
Others competing but not advancing to regionals (but placed in top 8) included:
Kennedi Smith, 200 meters, 6th place, 26.64.
Diamond Jones, 300 hurdles, 5th place, 48.39.
Taylor Robertson, pole vault, 6th place, 10-feet, 4-inches.
Ka’Niya McGowan, 100 meters, 7th place, 13.16.
Kristen Hoelscher, 1600 meters, 7th place, 5:54.43.
Brittany Prater, 400 meters, 6th place, 1:03.91, and Brooklyn Cassidy 7th place, 1:04.26.
Cassidy, Prater, Kaya Stargel, and McGowan in 4×400 relay, 6th place, 4:13.86.
“I’m proud of our ladies,” Fernandez added. “To get 3rd place behind two very good Troy and Northmont teams is nothing to be ashamed of. We rebounded well from last week’s conference meet, and advanced eight events to the regional meet.”
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind