Hunter Holton’s ankle is coming along just fine, thank you.
He won his specialty — the high jump — and placed highly in two other events as Watkins Memorial showcased its depth to easily win the 16-team Hank Smith Invitational on Saturday at Heath’s chilly, windy Swank Field.
Despite winning just two events to five by Granville, the Warriors piled up 141 points to 86 by the runner-up Blue Aces. Licking Valley was third with 76, Sheridan fifth at 55 1/2, Newark sixth with 55, Heath eighth at 40, Lakewood 11th with 15 and Newark Catholic 16th with 3.
Holton cleared 6 feet, 2 inches to win the high jump and has done 6-6.
“I’m finally back from my ankle injury; my strength is back all the way and I’m just trying to get my timing,” he said. “I want to get over 6-6 and make the state, and try to get 6-8 and get on the podium. Our 4×100 relay was second and I was third in the 110 hurdles, so it was a pretty good day.”
Although Mike McKean didn’t win, he also enjoyed a productive day for the Warriors. In a photo finish in the 3,200, he appeared to sprint to victory past Sheridan’s Matt Bromley. However, a late lunge by Bromley netted him the win (9:48.47 to 9:48). It still was a personal best by nine seconds and he also had a PR of four seconds, running 4:33.98 in taking third in the 1,600.
“(Bromley) is a great runner,” McKean said. “At about 100 meters, I decided to move and didn’t know I had that much left. I’ve been running 60 to 65 miles a week, and it’s helped.”
Watkins’ other win came in the 1,600 relay (3:29.25) with Chancer Abbitt, Vinny Anderson, Ethan George and Connor Severino.
The Lenfest brothers turned in strong performances for Granville. Casey Lenfest sped to wins in the 100 (:11.29) and 200 (:22.35), while Cody Lenfest won the 300 hurdles in :40.08. Tyler Otterstedt ruled the 800 in 1:58.78, while Hunter Rogerson rolled to a victorious :15.49 in the 110 high hurdles.
“The Hank Smith is great competition,” Casey Lenfest said. “The 200 is what I love best, and it’s good to come out and get wins early in the season. We’re trying to get ready for the MSL and postseason.”
“I had only done the 300 hurdles twice,” Cody Lenfest said. “Casey did all open races today and we didn’t have everyone on our relays. Once we get everyone healthy with fresh legs, we should be very, very fast.”
He was second in the 400 to Newark’s Anthony Johnson, who won in a meet record :49.09, which broke the old mark of :49.4 set five years ago.
“I was a little nervous; (Lenfest) is fast, and it made me go faster,” Johnson said. “Coach told me to go for it, so I did, but I actually felt like I was going a little slow, probably because of the wind.”
Johnson also teamed up with Kameron Carpenter, Isaac Wheeler and Toby Hardwick to win the 3,200 relay by 19 seconds in 8:17.35. Hardwick was involved in another fantastic finish with Sheridan’s Bromley in the 1,600, with Bromley prevailing 4:32.07 to 4:32.43.
Valley won four events, including Quincy Robinson in the long jump (21-6), Neil Bailey in the shot put (53-10) and Zach Crouse in the pole vault (13-0).
“The past few meets, I’ve done 21-something, which is good, but I want to go for 22,” Robinson said. “With better weather, I should get it.”
Also victorious in :44.83 was the 400 relay of Wyatt Fleisher, Tyler Kuhnes, Crouse and Drew McArtor.
“All of our sprinters have pretty decent speed,” McArtor said. “We also ran indoors and did real well.”
“Coach (Matt) Sorg is really pushing us; run to our potential, and we can beat anyone,” Kuhnes said. “The 4×200 kind of let us down, but this more than made up for it.”