Haley Menix is just a microscopic distance away from a breakthrough in the high jump.
It was that kind of day for the Northridge junior and her teammates. Including Menix, the Vikings had a bevy of runner-up finishes Thursday at the Licking Valley Invitational but they can sense they are closer as the calendar has turned to May.
“I cleared five feet, which is usually hard for me to get over,” said Menix, who tied Licking Heights’ Justice Stegall for the title but was awarded second on misses.
“I did pretty good because 5-2 is my struggle this year, but I think I can get over it. If I can get over it, I think I have a good chance at state this year. I know I can do it, but physically I start to get tired.”
Facing some of its best competition of the season, Northridge finished a strong third behind Division I Licking Heights and host Valley. The Vikings will get another test Wednesday in the Licking County Honor Roll Meet before setting their sights on competing for a Mid-Buckeye Conference title.
Menix in the long jump (15-7.5) and Taylor Rose (29-7.5) in the shot put were Northridge’s only champions. The Vikings were just off their season bests in placing second in the 400 (52.64) and 800 relays (1:50.70).
“We started our relays during the winter indoors, and that helped us a lot for outdoor in getting us good exchanges and better times,” senior Hannah Shank said. “I definitely like running against these Division I schools because it pushes us to get better.”
Heights’ sprinting depth dominated as the Hornets had 164.5 points. Valley followed with 119, and Northridge was just eight behind with 111.
Heights’ Skyler Ortiz was a perfect 4-for-4, winning the 100 (13.21), 200 (28.18), 100 hurdles (16.60) and 300 hurdles (50.46). The Hornets also won the 400 (52.25), 800 (1:50.37) and 1,600 (4:23.78) relays despite not having their standout available for any.
The Hornets’ other titles came from Angel Allen (88-3) in the discus and Camerone Bryant in the 400 (1:02.42).
“We obviously are not doing too well in the opens, so we were trying to get open wins,” Ortiz said. “We were still able to win the relays, too, and we are hoping to keep that going into the (Mid-State League-Cardinal Division) meet.”
Valley turned to its workhorse Mackenzie Butler to cruise to victories in the 800 (2:24.14) and 1,600 (5:28.59), and Natalie Hurst won the pole vault with a personal best (8-0).
Newark Catholic had a strong distance showing as McKi Reid, Kat Bowman, Mickayla Messer and Mary Richardson won the 3,200 relay in a season best (10:25.65). Richardson then won the 3,200 in a personal best (12:35.95). The Green Wave also had five runner-up finishes.
In the boys meet, Valley’s Zach Crouse went for the whole bowl of wax. The senior cleared 14-0 in the pole vault, and he skipped the customary 14-6.
For the second consecutive meet, Crouse just missed clearing 15-0. He first went for the personal-best mark a week ago at John Glenn. On Thursday, it would have been a meet record and tied the stadium record.
“I was over it. I just didn’t have enough drive to get into the pit and to get completely over it,” Crouse said. “I definitely have the height.
“Normally when you are going up for a (personal best), you are nervous and have doubt. At John Glenn, attempting 15 for the first time I felt fine about it. I didn’t feel any pressure.”
Valley finished second in the team standings with 137 points. Liberty Union won with 161. Neil Bailey was a double champion in the shot put (52-11.5) and discus (153-1), and Quincy Robinson won the long jump (21-9.5) and 400 (50.36).
Matt Gebremedhin won the 800 (2:05.36), and Devon Eubanks matched him in the 200 (23.61) to lead third-place Heights. The duo also was a part of the winning 1,600 relay (3:33.63).
David Briggs in the 1,600 (4:52.99) and 3,200 (10:42.53) and Wyatt Dixon in the 110 hurdles (17.69) and 300 hurdles (42.91) each had a pair of runner-up finishes to lead Lakewood.
“We have been heavy for probably four to six weeks,” Briggs said. “This next week, we are going to taper off, get a little more speed going and get some good turnover. I can get back down to where I need to be in the (1,600). My mile today was not good.”
The Lancers also had success in the relays, placing second in the 1,600 (3:38.09) and third in the 3,200 (8:46.74) despite running without injured standout Levi Mack.
“We have Jarrod Chorpenning who has stepped up after the beginning when he wasn’t running as well as he thought he would,” Briggs said. “He has worked really hard in practice, and he is right where we need him to be.”
NC placed fourth. The Green Wave’s best finish was the 3,200 relay (8:46.71), which edged the Lancers for second.