Chardon boys 4×800 grinds out strong win in rain at Division I Riverside District track and field

·6 min read

May 18—Given he and his counterparts at the Division I Riverside District on May 18 had to gut out awful weather conditions for Day 1, Luke Danison still managed to have a smile on his face at the end of the meet.

After the display by Chardon's boys 4×800-meter relay, rain wasn't going to be a drain on optimism — not even as it poured.

The quartet of Karl Dietz, Danison, Matthew Sopchak and Caden Dawson logged a convincing win with a time of 8 minutes, 3.82 seconds, a performance leaning toward astounding with a steady rain in tow for that final.

Even nearly five hours later, after the meet had an unusually great deal of lag to it in its preliminary round, Danison was beaming — and rightfully so.

#NHtrack Here are my usual NH area video meet highlights, from Day 1 finals at the D1 Riverside District pic.twitter.com/wf9f9v3Yl2

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 19, 2022

"Yeah, that's very exciting to see," Danison said. "We came out here, and we know we can run. But you go out there with someone not right next to you and ran an 8:03, I mean, that's pretty exciting. I was pretty excited with what happened, and obviously, it's raining pretty bad. The weather is not the best. But going out there and running that is definitely good to see, and we're excited to do some big things in these upcoming meets.

"(The weather) definitely makes times more difficult. I honestly love it, because the competition, some people are out there, 'Oh, this sucks. The weather is hurting me.' But I love it. I love the weather. I love competing in crappy conditions. It really tests the mentality. And I feel like that's what track is all about. It's how hard you can push yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. I think with the conditions, it shows who's up here ready to run and who's dedicated."

PHOTOS: Division I district track and field, May 18, 2022

The Hilltoppers' order is an intriguing mix of personnel, with Dietz, the 400 stalwart, as the popper, the distance chops of Danison and Sopchak and Dawson's grit from a hurdler background on the anchor.

They had to change things up May 18 with Chris Gehrke, a senior with sub-2 ability in open 8 or 4x8, battling a knee injury.

#NHtrack Chardon boys 4x8 1st with a brilliant 8:03.80, especially in this weather

I like the order on that relay — good 3rd leg from Matthew Sopchak into Caden pic.twitter.com/WBjDsKyCPc

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 18, 2022

"(Order) is so key, I feel," Danison said. "With the amazing sprint and endurance that Karl has in the 800 coming out, he usually gets us that lead. That gives me and Sopchak or me and Chris, whoever is running it; today it was Sopchak. But that gives us that confidence that we're in first, and we go out there and we compete hard.

"And then having Caden, the anchor who — I honestly feel like we hand him the baton in first or a really close second, and he's pretty much got it in the bag. Because Caden is one of those guys where he is out there to compete. He has that fight and drive in him that we're going to win. It doesn't matter how much it hurts. So I love that order, honestly."

On the girls side, Mentor handled its business as expected as the Cardinals began their D-I state title defense.

Savannah Dennison, Kylie Beucler, Ada Sabo and Nora Kraska hit for a 9:41.80. In truth, no more was required as Fitch, and, hopefully, improved conditions, loom next week.

#NHtrack Mentor girls 4x8 1st 9:41.80

I'll take that in this ... word I can't use on a work account pic.twitter.com/LmcjfFjIR0

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 18, 2022

"Yeah, it was a really good race," Beucler said. "We weren't trying to beat our time from (the Greater Cleveland Conference meet) last week. We just wanted to go out and give it our best with the weather and everything.

"We've run in the rain and the snow earlier in the season. It was really bad. So I feel like, as a team, we're trained already for this. And I think we did an outstanding performance given the circumstances."

Nailing down a 2022 News-Herald coverage area regular season-best 9:18.51 last week at GCC in a strong field gave Mentor a nice trajectory into the road to Columbus as well.

"It really gave us such a confidence boost," Beucler said. "Because we haven't hit that time before, and we dropped like 20 seconds from our previous time, and we were just really proud of ourselves. And today, we knew the weather was going to be kind of bad. We wanted to just give it our best, and we did."

In field events, two finals were altered by the weather. Boys pole vault was understandably postponed until May 20, and boys long jump met the same fate, suspended prior to the finals with plans to conduct those on Day 2 prior to the girls competition.

Madison's Maddie Moretti captured girls shot put with a best effort of 42 feet, 4 inches, achieved twice and showing her undaunting consistency as the senior makes a run at the all-time News-Herald coverage area record in the event of 46-6 3/4.

#NHtrack Maddie Moretti wins shot with a 42-4

Not to be repetitive with my last tweet, but was there for that as well pic.twitter.com/lirrdFXNHi

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 18, 2022

Riverside's Brett Stephens took top honors in discus with a 142-5, reigning by more than two feet and a commendable throw with a wet circle.

#NHtrack @Riverside_athl's @Brettstephens58 discusses his discus title in his home circle with a 142-5 in Day 1 of the D1 Riverside District@RHS_XC_Boys pic.twitter.com/gS3QaEA9EW

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 19, 2022

#NHtrack Riverside's Brett Stephens wins discus with a 142-5

As luck would have it, I was out there for that throw pic.twitter.com/DNd5PG73T2

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 18, 2022

Brush's Michala Johnson prevailed in high jump, the lone competitor in the field to go 5-0. Johnson had two close misses at 5-1.

#NHtrack @BrushAthletics' Michala Johnson discusses her HJ title, clearing 5-0, in Day 1 of D1 Riverside District

Like I said earlier, she's been a mainstay in our NH area HJ leaders with 5+ ability for much of her career, so happy to see her get a district & a trip to Fitch pic.twitter.com/kSfT476sNv

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 19, 2022