It was the final day of school Friday for Zach Crouse and the Licking Valley seniors, and he admits things have flown by.
Also moving fast was the Panthers’ 400 relay of Crouse, John Righter, Tyler Kuhnes and Drew McArtor, winning the Mid-State League-Ohio title at Heath in 44.15. It helped Valley finish third in the meet behind Granville and Columbus Academy. The Panthers had 92 points, Heath was fourth with 78, Lakewood sixth at 68 and Newark Catholic eighth with 31.
“All last year and most of this year, we’ve run around 44.8 to 45.0,” Crouse said. “Leading up to the Honor Roll meet, we tried a whole different thing, a different order. We ran 44.3 at that meet, then 44.1 today, so we’re improving our performance. And that was with a rough handoff between the second and third leg. I think we can break 44 easily.”
Quincy Robinson was second in the 400 behind Granville star Casey Lenfest in 49.67 for Valley.
Heath’s 800 relay of Carlos Rencher, Fred Stinson, Tristan Weaver and Josh Lines gave the home fans something to cheer about, running to victory in 1:31.71.
“We thought it would be close for second between us and Valley, but Granville didn’t run its ‘A’ team,” Lines said. “Then Valley had a bad handoff. It was a really good way to start the meet for us, good for some momentum.
“It was good to win in the last MSL (Ohio) meet, especially at home.”
Heath’s 1,600 relay of Rencher, Stinson, Matthew Kaser and Lines was third in 3:25.55, as was the 400 relay (45.29) of Christopher Cohagen, Erik Williams, Weaver and Donald Beistel.
Chandler McAlpine was second in the 100 in 11.42 for Lakewood, and ran on the second-place 800 relay (1:32.93) with Wyatt Dixon, Levi Mack and Jerrod Chorpenning. McAlpine also was third in the 200 in 23.09 and Dixon was third in the 110 hurdles in 15.99.
Valley’s Butler bounces back
Licking Valley senior Mackenzie Butler showed her trademark resilience in the girls meet.
After finishing second to talented Columbus Academy sophomore Julia Rizk in the 1,600 despite a solid 5:11.78, Butler came back to beat Rizk in the 800, running a 2:20.36 after leading all the way.
“I was a little disappointed in the mile,” Butler said. “Every time I try to set a PR, and I didn’t. Wins are nice, but a PR is better.
“There were a lot of good girls in the 800 (including Rizk and Granville freshman Micaela DeGenero, who beat Butler at Heath earlier). I knew she (DeGenero) would be there and I just wanted to stay with her. I pushed myself, and they pushed me.
“My goal is to be stronger every week. I want to keep running the 1,600 and 800. Running both actually makes me stronger.”
Heath turned in a strong performance, finishing a close third with 111.5 points behind Granville and Academy. Licking Valley was fifth with 65 points, Newark Catholic seventh with 37 and eighth-place Lakewood had 24.
The Bulldogs had two second-place relays: the 400 (51.36) with Kayla Carmichael, Amber Brown, Hailey Ferguson and Claudia Allen, and the 800 (1:47.62) with the same girls. Carmichael was second in the 200 in 26.43 and third in the 100 in 12.89, and Ferguson took third in the 400 in 1:01.35.
Mary Richardson placed third in the 3,200 in 12:56 for Newark Catholic.