Van Wert’s Ryan Rice anchors the boys 4x800 relay team at the regional meet in Dayton. Van Wert placed sixth in the event. (dhi MEDIA/Charlie Warnimont)
Van Wert’s Ryan Rice anchors the boys 4x800 relay team at the regional meet in Dayton. Van Wert placed sixth in the event. (dhi MEDIA/Charlie Warnimont)
By Jim Metcalfe
dhi MEDIA Correspondent
DAYTON — At this time of the track and field season, it’s all about taking the next step to the ultimate prize — a date at Jesse Owens Memorial Track and Field Stadium for the state meet next weekend.
In the Division II Dayton Regional on a warm and humid Thursday at PERC Welcome Stadium, Elida junior Aubrey Williams and the Van Wert boys 4x800-meter relay unit fell short of that goal — even as they set personal records in the process — but, in their perspective, learned a valuable lesson.
Williams finished fifth in the girls long jump with a personal record jump of 5-2, falling short of fourth place by a mere inch despite battling shin splints and needing to ice them between jumps.
“I missed at 5-3. The second of my three jumps was my best but I simply couldn’t arc my back enough; I just couldn’t get my butt over the bar,” she joked.

Williams figures that she has come a long way this season and has more to go.
“I started out jumping 4-10 this spring, so I’ve gotten better,” she added. “I do play volleyball, which can help with athleticism, explosion and stuff that comes into play in jumping. However, I don’t play basketball, so I can work over the winter on track.”
The Van Wert 4x8 crew of juniors Connor Holliday and Connor Shaffer, freshman Dylan Lautzenheiser and junior Ryan Rice clocked in with an 8:19.42, slightly more than a second off their previous best of 8:20.43.
“This is our first time at the regionals here for our program; last year, we were at Lexington. It’s different competition, with a lot of teams we haven’t gone up against before,” Holliday explained. “We came in with high expectations, but when you consider that my other three teammates in this relay hadn’t ever run in a 4x8 before this year, we’ve really done well to get this far.”
It didn’t help that on the third leg, Lautzenheiser, was nearly tripped by an opposing runner.
“He came down to the inside too quickly and knocked me off-balance; if I has stayed in my regular stride, I’d have run him over,” the freshman explained. “Apparently, there wasn’t a penalty or anything like that. I lost my stride and it took a while to get it back.”
“The first three of us didn’t put Ryan in a position to get us there. The competition had a lot more veterans that we did,” Holliday added.
The quartet hopes to use that in the future, Shaffer explained.
“I don‘t think any (other) team here can say they will return all four runners next year,” he added. “We will have three seniors and a sophomore, and we can get a lot better because of this year.”
“Especially since we all run cross-country,” Rice concluded. “We do a lot of endurance work for cross-country, focusing more on getting miles in and conditioning. In track, we work more on speed, so both complement each other.”
PRELIMINARY (Top 8 advance to Saturday’s Finals)
100 Meter Dash: … 10. Amanda Clay (VW) 13.11.
4x200 Meter Relay: … 9. Van Wert (Alicia Danylchuk, Emma Kohn, Landrie Koontz, Whitney Meyers) 1:48.67.
4x100 Meter Relay: 8. Van Wert (Domonique Grothause, Landrie Koontz, Emma Kohn, Alicia Danylchuk) 51.981
400 Meter Dash: 7. Amanda Clay (VW) 60.19.
300 Meter Hurdles 30”: 4. Whitney Meyers (VW) 48.36.
4x400 Meter Relay: 4. Van Wert (Whitney Meyers,Amanda Clay, Emma Kohn, Alicia Danylchuk) 4:06.97.
100 Meter Dash: 8. Nicholas Krugh 11.48.
4x100 Meter Relay: 2. Elida (Desmend White, Clark Etzler, Corbin Stratton, Avery Sumpter) 44.13.
400 Meter Dash: 3. Clark Etzler (EL) 50.32; 7 Quincey Salcido (VW) 50.71.
200 Meter Dash: 4. Nicholas Krugh (VW) 22.54.
4x400 Meter Relay: 2. Van Wert (Tymon Moore, Nicholas Krugh, Quincey Salcido, Hunter Perl) 3:27.84; 8. Elida (Simen Domaas, Sam Quaintance, Gaerid Littler, Clark Etzler) 3:32.19.