Several locals land on podium at state track & field meet
Monday, June 09, 2014 12:00 AM
By Jim Metcalfe
Van Wert junior Nick Krugh placed seventh in the 200-meter dash at the state track and field championships on Saturday in Columbus. The Cougar was one of several from Van Wert County to earn a place on the podium. (DHI Medai/Charlie Warnimont)
& Charlie Warnimont
DHI Media Correspondents
COLUMBUS — The near-perfect track and field weather continued Saturday morning and afternoon at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University.
The local Tri-County athletes also continued to bring back their share of medals as eight individuals or relay teams earned top-eight finishes.
In Division III, the best of those performers was the Crestview 4x100-meter relay squad of sophomore Sage Schaffner, juniors Malcolm Oliver and Zach Jellison and sophomore Isaiah Kline. That group turned a third-place timing of 43.86.
“We broke our personal record again. We all just ran as fast as we could,” Kline began. “We’re just so happy. I couldn’t have a better group of guys to run with; we’re almost like a family.”
“This has been such a great year for Crestview boys athletics. We started in the fall by going farther in football than we ever had,” Jellison continued. “We won state in basketball and then had two relays and an individual make it to state in track and our baseball team was in the state semis.”
“We talked about this being our last race this year with these four guys and we wanted to make it our best. We did that,” Schaffner chimed in. “Everything clicked today. We work so well together, and it’s exciting to run our best race in the finals.”
Oliver figured that things will change for this foursome next year, but it’s up to them what that means.
“We’re all back, so the bull’s-eye will be on us. We worked hard this year to get to this point; we took nothing for granted all season,” he added. “We have to work just as hard, if not harder, next year and listen even more to our coaches. We can’t take getting back here for granted, either.”
Their junior teammate, Mycah Grandstaff, broke his personal record by almost five seconds (9:31.57, breaking his previous 9:36.38) in grabbing third in the boys 3,200-meter run.
He knew who his main competition would be going into the finals.
“I knew coming in Bobby Johnson was the defending state cross country champion and he was going to be strong. I knew I’d have to run the race of my life to beat him,” he explained. “I broke my PR by almost five seconds, so I’m pleased with that. I tried to stay with him the first few laps, even passing him at one time to see how he’d react. He kicked it in after that and I couldn’t stay with him. I try to run at a pace that is comfortable to me, but he forces you to be uncomfortable at times. I wasn’t used to being behind runners this year.”
The way he finished — and the fact he is only a junior — gives Grandstaff confidence for next year.
“The two guys ahead of me are both seniors, so they won’t be around next year. Still, I take nothing for granted. I know I have to work hard to give myself a chance to get back here and maybe win it.”
Lincolnview junior Bayley Tow secured sixth place in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:24.61.
“I had a good week of practice and stayed fresh. I rely on God the whole time; that helps me stay calm and poised during a race, especially today,” Tow explained. “It keeps my focus where it should be. I try to run a consistent and steady race, to stay within myself and not try to get out of my comfort zone.”
Tow gave credit to his coaches and their philosophy as to his success.
“Coach (Matt) Langdon talks to us all the time, especially early on in the season, as to what our focus is on; to be peaking at this time of year. He tells us to trust the training, that all the hard work we do is for now,” he added. “We had three make it down here to state and Hannah (McCleery) made the podium in the girls high jump. That’s a good sign for our track program. The good thing is we’re both juniors and we know we have another chance to get back here and hopefully finish higher.
“For me, track begins in the fall in cross country, putting in the miles and getting in prime shape. I don’t play basketball or wrestle, so I can focus on my running.”
In Division II, Van Wert junior Alexis Dowdy tossed the shot put 42-3 1/4 for fourth place.
“I was fifth after the prelims, so I moved up a spot in the finals. I’m pleased with that,” she said. “I’m happy I made the podium. It wasn’t like last year; I didn’t even get out of districts and this year I earn fourth at state. I really give credit to my coaches. They’ve helped me improve so much.”
Van Wert junior Nick Krugh ran a 22.53 to nab seventh in the boys 200-meter dash.
“I didn’t set my PR, but I don’t think anyone ran their best time today. I think we were all a little nervous; we did not want to get disqualified for a false start, so we didn’t get off quickly like normal,” Krugh said. “Still, I went in with the eighth-best time from the semifinals and moved up a notch, so that’s good.”
Just being at Owens Stadium and making the podium is quite a treat for Krugh, and he’d like to do it again as a senior.
“I made it down here in two events: this and the 4x4 (4x400-meter relay). We’ve got a lot of young guys in track and we had a great season,” Krugh added. “Outside of one or two, we are all back.
“For me, I play football, but I’m a receiver, so that helps me work on my speed. I don’t play basketball, so I’m thinking of indoor track.”