Jake Correll could be excused if giving one of his teammates a little nudge has crossed his mind.
Correll had a pair of runner-up finishes Saturday during the Licking County League meet, but he could not be too upset. The Watkins Memorial junior finished second to teammates in each of the hurdle races, and that domination illustrated the way the Warriors ran away with the LCL title on their home track.
Granville had the edge in some of the premier races but Watkins’ overall depth was too strong as the Warriors scored 189 points, easily ahead of the Blue Aces’ 112. It was the same story on the girls side but Granville did make a late charge, leaving Watkins with the title with 180 points, 15.5 ahead of the Blue Aces.
“We practice really hard and just to see how it pays off is just incredible,” Correll said. “It was nice to have it here to know our surroundings and be able to perform where we practice.”
Hunter Holton, who won the high jump Thursday, edged out Correll in the 110 hurdles 15.51 to 15.76. Gerald Brewer (40.05) and Correll (40.77) took first and second, respectively, in the 300 hurdles. When the Warriors were in the Ohio Capital Conference-Capital Division, they routinely used the hurdles events to overtake their competition during a recent run of four consecutive championships. It was no different this time in the LCL.
“Watkins hurdlers and Watkins track has always been really good,” said Correll, whose older brothers Scott and Matt are former Warrior hurdlers. “I am just proud to be a part of it.”
Watkins won eight titles. Donovan Garrison won the 100 (11.14), and he joined Solomon Broomfield, Evan Caniff and Holton in winning the 400 relay (43.81). Andrew Jordan took the 3,200 (9:55.42), and Chance Abbitt, Desmond Melson, Jerrod Lyon and Brewer were first in the 1,600 relay (3:23.10).
Granville’s standouts did their part. Casey Lenfest — who finished second to Garrison in the 100 — won the 200 (21.86), 400 (49.73) and long jump (21-feet-9.5), not having practiced the latter until a couple weeks ago. Tyler Otterstedt won the 1,600 (4:30.16) and 800 (1:54.99).
“Definitely in the 800 — because there were some fast quarter-milers in the race — the plan was to take the kick away from them by going out somewhat hard. I did that pretty effectively,” Otterstedt said. “As for the mile, it just felt comfortable to me to go out that fast. The plan for that one was to sit and kick, but I kind of threw that away after the first 100 meters.”
Licking Heights’ Bryan Justice in the pole vault (14-6) and A.J. Velasquez in the discus (129-1) each won field events, and Heath’s Carlos Rencher, Donny Beistel, Freddie Stinson and Josh Lines won the 800 relay (1:31.16) and were a strong second in the 1,600 relay (3:23.70).
Newark Catholic’s Blake Baker, Chris Meek, Kevin Lally and Anthony Wing ran a season-best time to place second in the 400 relay (44.45), and Baker, Meek, Lally and Jared Jeffries also were second in the 800 relay (1:34.64).
“I look at the improvement from last year. The last few years we have been bottom, seventh or eighth in the league,” Meek said. “We have worked hard all year since November. We are definitely hitting a lot of peaks and still going. The postseason is looking good because we are sitting high in the district.”
In the girls meet, the Warriors used a sweep early and another one late to hold off the Blue Aces. Lindsey Finnegan (5-2) and Sammi Miller (5-0) took first and second, respectively, in the high jump. McKenzie Biniker (26.22) and Kelsey Grove (26.72) matched them in the 200.
“I wasn’t really expecting that because I am not usually good in Lane 3. It is just one of my weak lanes,” Biniker said. “The Granville girl, I was really just set on beating her because she beat me in the prelims. She just pumped me up.”
It was a banner day for Biniker and Grove, who joined Kara Robinson and Rachel Lawwell in running a season best in the 800 relay (1:45.73) to hold off the late-charging Blue Aces and the Hornets. Biniker, Grove, Stori Davis and Monica Tumblin won the 400 relay (51.17).
“All of the points matter in this type of meet because everything is just so close,” Biniker said. “The fact that I did that is a great feeling.”
Josie Woosley in the 3,200 (11:13.27) gave Watkins an additional title. She went head to head with Granville’s Micaela DeGenero in the 1,600 in what became the most tactical race of the meet.
DeGenero and Woosley, who each could break the five-minute mark during the postseason, took the race out in a comparatively slow 2:46 for the first 800. The duo set fire from there, and DeGenero held off Woosley with a 65-second final lap — 5:06.11 to 5:06.27.
Adding individual titles for the Blue Aces were Natalie Price in the 400 (59.30), Kaitlyn Logan in the 800 (2:22.59) and Amanda Frey in the 300 hurdles (47.25). Logan, DeGenero, Allison Brunn and Taylor Bruck also combined to win the 1,600 relay (4:07.20).
“Sometimes I make the mistake of going out too slow,” Logan said of the 800. “(Assistant coach Dave Agosta) always says it is not just the first 200 meters. You have to stay fast for the whole first lap and then end the race fast. I tried to go out at a good pace and keep it.”
Heights’ Skyler Ortiz won the 100 (12.96) and 100 hurdles (15.72), and the Bulldogs’ Alexis McJunkins won the shot put (38-4.5).