COLUMBUS — It was a banner year in Division III for the Archbold girls track team and for the Liberty Center boys team, as well as the Kalida boys and girls teams.
Starting with Archbold, the girls placed second overall with 39 points, behind team champ West Liberty-Salem’s 50 points. It’s the first time that any Archbold track team has come home with a state team trophy.
“I wanted end out on a good note, to go out with a bang my senior year and we did,” said Archbold senior Dakota Stamm. “I’m so proud of my teammates and what we accomplished for our school today.”
Locally, Columbus Grove (16 points) finished 13th, Kalida (15) was 15th and Leipsic (10) was 24th. On the boys side, East Canton (42 points) finished first, while Columbiana Crestview (36) was the runner up. Liberty Center was seventh (23 points), Kalida (18) was 11th, Evergreen (9.5) was 24th and Ayersville (eight points) was 26th.
Archbold won the final event, the 1600 relay, to put it solidly in second place, five points ahead of third-place Springfield Central Catholic. The team of senior Iris Pena, sophomore Kylie Sauder and seniors Gwynne Riley and Stamm won in 3:58.03, well ahead of West Liberty-Salem’s 3:58.95.
Riley took the handoff in ninth place and moved up Archbold to fifth place and then Stamm passed four runners and took over the lead with 100 meters left.
“I was disappointed with how I ran in the 800,” said Riley, who faded to seventh in the final 75 meters in that race. “I felt I got out too fast on that first lap and the 400 was a different race for me. I was able to chase down a few girls while maintaining my energy. Then Dakota did the rest. It was pretty awesome to finish with a win in the 4 x 400 (1600 meter relay).”
The team of Riley, Brittney Ramirez, Stamm and Sauder started things off with a third-place finish in the 3200 relay on Friday morning. Then, the 800 relay team of Pena, Sauder, Riley and Stamm placed third in the 800 relay (1:45.21).
Stamm then won the 400 in a personal-best and school-record time of 55.82, topping Abby Suszek of Willoughby Cornerstone Christian (56.0), who came into the meet with the fastest time.
“At the end of the race, this was the tightest my legs had felt, so l knew I had to win this one by being mentally tough,” Stamm said. “I had a scripture verse I wrote on my arm before the race, First Corinthians 9:24, which says run the race as such to win the prize. I felt God gave me that promise before the race. It feels great to come here and win two state titles in the 400.”
Ayersville sophomore Teryn Bour placed sixth in a personal-best time of 58.33 in the 400.
“I was disappointed, because I wanted a chance at Dakota, but she’s just super fast,” Bour said. “But I can’t be disappointed with a personal-best and this gives me something to shoot for for next year.”
Sauder and Riley helped Archbold win the runner-up trophy with Sauder finishing fourth in the 800 in a personal-best 2:16.4, while Riley placed seventh, in 2:17.04.
“This is my first year running the open 800 and it took me most of the year to figure out how to run it,” Sauder said. “I came in here seeded fifth and I wanted to finish at least fourth. I did that with a burst at the end.”
Ayersville junior Noah Fisher’s bid to win both state cross country and track titles fell just short. Mapleton’s Drew Roberts passed Fisher down the stretch to win, 9:25.74-9:29.48.
“It was a great race between both of us,” Fisher said. “I may have made my move too soon, taking the lead with 700 meters to go, as he caught me at the end. But we’re evenly matched and whichever one felt best at the end, was going to win and that’s the way it was today. Now, it’s back to work with the goal of winning two titles next year.”
Meanwhile, Continental junior Katie Keller placed at state for the first time, placing fifth in the 300 hurdles (46.17).
“I give all the credit to my coaches, for getting me this far and placing this year,” Keller said.
The banner day for Kalida came in just the fourth year of the team’s track program, with the girls winning their first state title in the 400 relay. Also, Josh Verhoff won the 200, for the school’s first boys state title.
The Kalida team of junior Abby Maag, sophomore Brenna Smith, junior McKayla Maag and sophomore Hannah Berheide nipped Margaretta in a photo finish, 49.44-49.45. Berheide took the handoff in third place, before pulling out the win.
“It was a lot of good competition and I just pushed through it for my teammates,” Berheide said. “It feels good to win that first state title and I’m proud of my teammates.”
Verhoff, after finishing second in the 100 (10.97), won the 200 in a Division III meet record and personal best time of 21.39.
“When I got out in front with about 70 meters to go, I thought, just keep it going,” Verhoff said. “It’s great to finish with a state title and a record. I didn’t know I would go that fast today, but I did.”
Evergreen junior Reece Serna equaled Evergreen’s best boys finish at state, with a fourth place in the 200 22.4. Fellow junior Mason Loeffler also placed fourth in the long jump (6-4).
“This means a lot for the school and it feels great to place at state,” Serna said. “My hard work is finally paying off.”
The Liberty Center boys 1600 relay team of senior Parker Strauss, senior Nathan Meller, junior Zach Bowers and senior Wes Kundo won in a school-record time of 3:22.33. Bowers got the handoff with a slight lead and then increased it.
“We talked beforehand that we had to run a couple seconds faster than (3:24, which they ran the last time) and that’s what we did,” Bowers said. “I had been the guy who faded in the last 100 meters for us and I didn’t like how I ran in the open 400 (not making the finals). So, I wanted to redeem myself and I think I did that. This was a great accomplishment for us.”
Kundo (sixth, 1:55.89) and Meller (seventh, 1:56.15) both broke the school record in the 800. Kundo placed seventh in the 800 last year. The Tigers also placed second in the 3200 relay (8:01.21) on Friday.
Fayette junior Brett Merillat placed fourth in the 800 (personal-best 1:55.66).
“I thought I would break my personal record today, but didn’t know I would finish this high and that feels good,” Merillat said.
Leipsic senior Carlee Siefker won the long jump, with a leap of 18-6. She took the lead on her third jump, topping Ridgewood’s Alexis Prater by one inch.
Also placing in Division III for the girls were Kalida freshman Kenzie Fortman (eighth in the 1600), Columbus Grove senior Madisyn Maag (sixth in the discus), senior Rylee Sybert (sixth in the 100, fourth in the 200), junior Alyssa Ellerbrock (fourth in the 3200, 11:17.07) and Patrick Henry sophomore Trista Fintel finished third in the shot put with a personal best throw of 42-2.
In Division I, Defiance junior Mhalicki Bronson looked to be in another disappointing state race, in 12th place with two laps to go. But Bronson moved into 10th with one lap remaining and then passed five guys the last lap to finish fifth, with a time of 9:19.03, just three seconds off his personal best.
“It’s intimidating to know you’re here with the best of the best and it takes a bit to tell you’re worthy,” Bronson said. “I was too intimidated last year and finished in the back of the pack. But for this race, (cross country and assistant track coach) Obie (Mouser) told me to hold back because of the wind and let other guys draft me and to not get out too fast. Then, when the pack starts moving, I needed to move. I did that, though I may have done it a little too late. I also probably should have stuck up a little closer to the front. I’m happy with where I finished. But I know there’s room for improvement and a lot further for me to go.”
On the boys side in Division III, Delta junior Hunter Tresnan-Reighard finished fifth in the discus (159-11).
In Division II, Defiance junior Shay Soukup narrowly missed placing in the 800, finishing 11th, in 2:20.74.
Bryan junior Taylor Peters placed fifth in the girls pole vault, with a personal-best 11-2.
“I came in seeded 11th and I knew if I was going to place, I would need to be clean (no misses) and get a personal best and that’s what happened,” Peters said.
Bryan junior Tyler Manon placed fifth in the 400 (49.22).
“I wanted to get under 49 (seconds) for the first time, but I can’t be upset with how I ran,” Manon said. “I’m proud of myself for making all-state. A lot of people would die for getting this spot.”
Bryan senior Keegan Brown failed to place in the top eight in the discus, finishing 12th in 152-04.
Holgate junior Raena Willett became the third family member to place at the state track meet. The best finish came by Gabbi Willett, with a third-place in the 3200 as a freshman. But injuries then took a toll on Gabbi. For Raena, a slow first lap was the key, to get into a rhythm.
“I was actually in last place the first 200 and I wouldn’t change a thing with how I raced today,” Willett said. “I ran about the same time as regionals and I’m all-Ohio.”
Ottoville senior Quinley Schlagbaum placed sixth in the 300 hurdles (46.26). It was redemption for Schlagbaum, who fell at regionals last year, keeping her from advancing to state.
Hicksville senior Makayla Sullivan placed eighth in the 3200 (11:48.29).
“I was in 12th place at the 1600 mark and looked and saw that seventh and eighth place was not that far in front of me and I thought, why not go for it,’ Sullivan said. “It’s my first time making all-state.”