Track & field: Kalida girls, Columbus Grove boys win district titles

·8 min read

May 22—ADA — It probably wasn't the way Kalida head track-and-field coach Scott Miller drew it up for Saturday's finals at the Division III district meet at Ada War Memorial Stadium.

But he will definitely take it.

Heading into the final event of Saturday's finals, the 1,600-meter relay, the Kalida girls team was clinging to a one-point lead over Van Buren in the team standings.

It was pretty simple.

Kalida had to defeat Van Buren in the 1,600-relay to notch its first-ever district title.

Kalida saved its best for last, as its 1,600 relay (Andrea Burgei, Kenzie Fortman, Ady Miller, Allie Kuhlman) took first in a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 17.50 seconds. Van Buren's foursome finished fifth (4:21.58).

"We never want to write it up that way," Coach Miller said with a grin. "It would be a little less stressful if we had a few more points there. But I told the girls that they needed to believe in themselves. I told them to leave it on the track. ... They definitely left it on the track, today.

"I wasn't expecting what they ran there (1,600 relay). ... It was a four-second PR (personal record). It was just an outstanding job by them."

With the win Saturday, Kalida claims it first ever district title.

"We've gotten runner-up the last three years," Miller said. "So, we knew it was going to be tight. ... It was going to be close. We needed a lot of girls to step up; and they did both days (Thursday and Saturday). It was a fantastic team performance by all of them."

Kalida ended the two-day meet with 92 points. Van Buren finished with 85 points. Columbus Grove (73), Leipsic (62) and Ottoville (55) rounded out the top five squads in the 18-team field.

On the boys side, Columbus Grove pulled away from Bluffton, 148-114, to notch the district title. Hopewell-Loudon (73.50), Van Buren (58) and McComb (54) were also in the top five.

The top five placers in each event at Ada for the boys, advance to the Division III regional at Port Clinton, which runs Wednesday and Friday. The top four placers in each event for the girls, advance to Port Clinton.

Kalida started the district meet Thursday (first day) on a strong note. Kalida's 3,200 relay (Andrea Burgei, Kenzie Fortman, Ady Miller, Allie Kuhlman) clocked a winning time of 10:09.89.

Then on Saturday, the Wildcats picked up right where they left off.

In the 1,600, Burgei and Fortman finished third (5:38.68) and fourth (5:39.23), respectively.

Burgei came back later and placed fourth in the 3,200 (12:54.88). Bluffton's June Essinger won the race in 12:44.14.

In the 400 relay, Kalida (Allie Stechschulte, Lydia Vorst, Jordyn Vandemark, Peyton Wurth) finished second (52.81) to Columbus Grove (Brynn Fortman, Lauryn Auchmuty, Kiersten Closson, Savanah Ridenour; 51.64).

Kalida's 800 relay (Kaylyn Bockrath, Meredith Bockrath, Peyton Wurth, Avrie Unverferth) placed third (1:52.54).

"We've got a lot of (regional) qualifiers moving on," Miller said. "I always say, 'You want to take a full bus.'

"We had all four relays for the girls get out (to regionals). We had two of the guys' relays get out. I'm so proud of both of their efforts."

The Columbus Grove boys team realized it was in for a battle this week.

However, the Bulldogs overcame some adversity Thursday and came out strong Saturday to pull away for the district title.

Longtime Columbus Grove boys head coach Chris Grothaus knew his team needed to step it up this week.

"Bluffton is good. We knew we had to run well to beat them. We knew we couldn't have any screwups in the field events," Grothaus said.

On Thursday, Columbus Grove's 400-meter relay did not advance, because of a dropped baton, which pushed them out of contention.

"Obviously, with our 4-by-1 (400 relay, not advancing to the finals), that was disappointing," Grothaus said. "That could've had a snowball effect, because that is a pretty good relay for us. We told the kids that they had to refocus on what we had left. So, I thought they came out (Saturday) focused. A district title is what we were shooting for. So, now it's top four (placers) for next week (to qualify for state meet). ... That's what we're looking at."

Columbus Grove started out Thursday with an impressive showing in the 3,200 relay. The Bulldogs (Caleb Stechschulte, Trent Koch, Caleb Morman, Carson Closson) pulled away from a strong Bluffton foursome to win in a time of 8:19.25. Bluffton finished in second place (8:34.06).

In Thursday's shot put, Columbus Grove's A.J. Schafer placed third (48-2.5), while teammate Lawson Maag was fourth (46-8).

In Saturday's discus, Columbus Grove's Tadd Koch finished second (172-10), while Maag came in third (163-9).

Columbus Grove tallied huge points in the boys pole vault. Braylon Baxter won with a height of 14 feet, while teammate Noah Goecke was second (13-0).

In the boys high jump, Bluffton went 1-2, as Trey Boblitt won with a height of 6-2. Teammate Wyatt Lovell was second (6-0).

In the boys 3,200, Columbus Grove's Trent Koch came on strong in the final lap to notch the victory in 10:13.16. Bluffton's Erik Nygaard, who led most of the race, finished second (10:15.81). Columbus Grove's Luke Ellerbrock came in third (10:20.88).

In the boys 1,600, Bluffton's Eden Antrim pulled away in the second half of the race to notch the win (4:28.44). Antrim competed in the 1,600 at last year's state meet.

"I've had some knee problems lately," Antrim said. "So, I wanted to slowly work my way into it, so I wouldn't hurt myself. So, that's why it was a negative split there."

In the boys 800, it looked like a repeat of last weekend's Northwest Conference Meet.

Bluffton's Landon Armstrong led from start to finish for the victory (1:58.74), while Columbus Grove's Carson Closson was hot on his heels, finishing second (2:01.03). At last weekend's NWC Meet, it was the same result in the 800 race.

Armstrong knew Closson would not be far behind.

"I've always got it (being chased by Closson) in the back of my mind," Armstrong said. "Anything can happen in a race like this. So, I always have to be wary. It definitely makes you want to run faster."

Leipsic's Apple

dominates discus

Last spring, Leipsic's Seth Apple found himself on the outside, looking in, when the postseason tournament rolled around.

Last year, Apple was throwing the discus in the 130-feet range on a consistent basis. However, Apple could not quite make the jump to the next level.

Now, a year later, Apple is boasting more than a 40-foot improvement on his discus tosses.

At Saturday's discus, Apple won with a mark of 177-4. Apple's personal best is 178-1.

During the past offseason, Apple was focused on getting better.

"I've trained a lot with my coach — lifting and throwing during offseason," Apple said.

Thursday, in the shot put, Apple finished second with a mark of 49-1.25.

Apple, a junior, came into this spring season with high aspirations. He has yet to qualify for the spring state meet.

Apple said he realized at the beginning of the season that he had the potential of taking his throws to the next level.

"It (fast start to the season) kind of made me realize on how far I can get. I feel like I can go a little bit farther," Apple said.

Apple plays tackle and defensive end on the football team.

Leipsic's Heitmeyer

wins four events

Leipsic senior Peyton Heitmeyer came away with four first-place finishes this weekend.

The University of Findlay-bound Heitmeyer started the district meet Thursday with a win in the long jump (16-7.5).

On Saturday, Heitmeyer won the 100 (12.96), 200(25.93) and 400 (59.15).

"I was really happy with today," Heitmeyer said after Saturday's finals. "The meet was going really fast in the finals. So, I was happy with the times. I was just trying to qualify for regionals.

"Last year, I made it to the regionals in all of them. But I only made it out in the long jump and 400. I'm hoping to add another event or two."

At last year's Division III state meet, Heitmeyer placed sixth in the 400 (58.48), and seventh in the long jump (16-9).

Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.