BUCYRUS – In a race that summed up the team battle, Colonel Crawford’s Brett Bakies glanced at Crestview’s 6-foot-7 Ben Olewiler settling into the blocks and knew that winning the 200 meter dash would be a tall order.
Bakies would have to win the race at the start before Olewiler’s body uncoiled and his long stride became a factor.
Mission accomplished. Bakies held off Olewiler for first and Bakies’ Eagles held off Olewiler’s Cougars for Saturday’s Division III district track title at Bucyrus High School.
“He’s got top-end speed,” Bakies said of Olewiler, “so you’ve got to get out as fast as you can, hit the curve as hard as you can and then maintain your speed and be as fluid as you can the rest of the way.”
Bakies finished in 23.11 and Olewiler in 23.16, the outcome cementing a repeat sweep for the Crawford boys and girls in the team standings. Putting a damper on the celebration was a hamstring injury suffered by senior sprinter Dylan Gulley in the 200. He pulled up coming off the curve and hobbled to the finish line.
“I’m a little worried because he’s one of the toughest kids I know,” Crawford coach Preston Foy said of Gulley, who left the track with the hamstring heavily wrapped. “He says he’s OK, but you never know. I know he’s going to give it everything he’s got. He was winning the 200 coming off the bend in lane 8.”
Foy’s Eagles overcame three firsts from Olewiler (one of them a relay) and his runner-up finish in the 200 with some solid performances of their own. Clay Martin swept the 1,600 and 800 in 4:26.54 and 1:59.14, respectively, to go with firsts on Thursday from Owen Adams in the long jump and the 4 x 800 team anchored by Martin.
Martin’s teammate Chad Johnson finished right behind him in the 1,600 as well as second in the 3,200 and the Eagles also got seconds on the boys side from the 4 x 200 and 4 x 100 relays. Noah Ferguson was second in the shot put on Thursday and fourth in the discus Saturday.
Bakies, who finished fourth in the 100 dash, anchored the 4 x 200, joined by Dalton Scott, Adams and Gulley, who also qualified for regionals with his fourth-place finish in the long jump Thursday. Those four also ran on the 4 x 100, anchored by Adams, who also finished runner-up in the 300 hurdles.
Crawford finished with 126 points to Crestview’s 109. There was far less suspense on the girls side with Crawford out-distancing New London 130-86. The Eagles got firsts Saturday from Callie Ruffener in the pole vault (10-6) and the 4 x 100 relay crew of Alyssa Spears, Sam Mutchler, Kristen Verhes and Ruffener (52.04), to go along with the first from Megan Lyons in the discus Thursday.
“Every year brings a different set of ‘ifs,’ but we’re just blessed to have real good athletes,” said Crawford girls coach Jody Grove.
Martin was a repeat triple winner, but said he’s ahead of last year’s pace which led to a state medal in the 1,600.
“I hit 4:26 today, which was my state time last year, and broke two minutes in the 800 for the second time,” he said. “Next week is when the huge drop happens. I dropped 16 seconds in the mile last year from districts to regionals. Coach (Grove, who handles the distance runners) knows what she’s doing and when it’s time to peak.”
On the girls side, Wynford’s Ellie Richmond won the 1,600 in 5:24.18 and came back to set the school record in the 800 at 2:19.88. That achievement nicely complements the records she alreaqdy owned in the 1,600 and 4 x 400 relay.
“I tried to get the record in the two-mile last week, but I was 10 seconds off,” Richmond said. “Before the mile, I didn’t know if I’d have enough (energy) left to go for a record in the 800 today, but I felt good so I thought I might as well use it while I have it.
“I warmed up earlier than usual today, which freaked me out, but my coaches know what they’re doing.”
The 100 dash titles went to Wynford’s Cole Fortner (11.51) and Buckeye Central’s Aubrey Wright (13.35). Fortner also grabbed the fourth and final regional-qualifying berth in the 200, while Wright was third in the long jump after winning a high jump title Thursday.
Other boys earning regional berths Saturday were the Wynford 4 x 200 and 4 x 100 teams (both third), and Wynford’s James Ort in the discus (second) and shot (fourth).
On the girls side, Thursday’s regional qualifiers from Crawford included the 4 x 800 team (second), Cheyanne Johnson in the discus (second) and Sam Mutchler in the high jump (second). Also advancing in the high jump were Buckeye Central’s Sarah Heydinger (third) and Wynford’s Alydia Miller (fourth).
Qualifiers Saturday for Crawford were Alex Carter in the pole vault (second), Lyons in the shot put (third), Mutchler in the long jump (fourth), Kristen Verhes in the 100 hurdles (third), Ruffener in the 100 (fourth) and 200 (third), the 4 x 200 team (second), Anna Reffey in the 1,600 (third) and 3,200 (second) and Emily Kemper in the 3,200 (third).
Moving on for the Wynford girls were Margaret Willford in the 100 hurdles (fourth), Hayley McCoy in the 400 (fourth), Madison Schiefer in the 800 (fourth) and the 4 x 400 team (second). Crestline’s Kellie Green advanced in the 300 hurdles (fourth).