Track Teams Wins Regional Championship, Heads to States
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Posted by: KC McKenna
By Tim Warsinsky
Cleveland Plain Dealer
AMHERST, Ohio — Midway through the Division I regional track meet Friday, St. Edward coach Steve Stahl stood in the pouring rain to cool off.
It wasn't the heat and it wasn't the humidity that had him so hot. It was anger.
On a day that ended with St. Edward claiming the Division I boys championship at Amherst, the Eagles were lamenting the loss of their top-ranked 4x200-meter relay. St. Edward withdrew from the final because two runners were late to the meet.
The Eagles beat Berea for the regional title, 88-56, another significant milestone for their rise under Stahl. They entered the postseason among the favorites to win the state meet next weekend, but now face a much different challenge without their favored 4x200 relay.
"We're not finished by any means. There's just no room for error now," Stahl said.
St. Edward wasn't the only team that saw its path to a potential state title altered on Amherst's green track. It was a strange meet from beginning to end. Blistering heat the first 90 minutes was followed by driving rain for the 300 hurdles and girls 800, and there were two lightning delays totaling 90 minutes.
Berea senior Donovan Robertson withdrew from the 100 and 200 dashes to concentrate on defending his state titles in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. He won the hurdles in 13.61 (meet record) and 37.09. He joined the Braves' 4x400 relay, which he anchored, running from sixth place to first in 3:20.93.
Had Robertson been able to achieve his longtime goal of winning or placing high in four individual events at state, Berea would have been a stronger contender for the team title.
"It was a hard decision. To run all four events would just kick my butt at state," Robertson said.
Lorain's hope for state girls hardware was dealt a big blow when its winning 4x200 relay was disqualified because of an exchange outside the zone. Lorain won the meet with 64 points, 12 ahead of Medina.
The rain appeared to be a factor when Rocky River junior Madi Connelly fell with about 40 meters remaining in the 800. She was running among the top four, but finished 11th. The top four earn state berths. Connelly later advanced to state on the fourth-place 4x400 after anchor Sarah Lesiecki made a late pass.
Brunswick senior Brianna Neitzel won the 100 (12.28) and 400 (56.30) and, after an hour delay, anchored the runner-up 4x400. She was hoping to be at her prom by 8:30 p.m. Her last raced ended at 9:15 p.m.
"I've got a bucket of water in my car," she joked when asked how she was going to get ready.
St. Edward was in no joking mood and appeared motivated by its 4x200 debacle. Several sources said starter Quincy Jones and an alternate arrived after the 4x200, which was the sixth final of the day. Jones later was allowed to run in the 4x100 following a team vote.
Senior Anthony Young, who was ready to run the 4x200, said it was a difficult decision to let Jones back on the team.
"I was mad. I just took my anger out in the (4x100)," he said. "We'll just have to bounce back and get ready for next week."
Young won the 100 (10.80) and 200 (21.69) and anchored the 4x100 from third place to first (42.30).
"We have to bring our 'A' game and come ready to go next week. Me and (shot put and discus winner) Aaron Zedella have to step up and (sprinter) Shawn Crawford has to come ready, even though he's only a freshman," Young said.
Lorain standouts Melody Farris and Alicia Arnold advanced in four girls events. Farris was second in the 100 hurdles, but ran a powerful race to win the 300 hurdles after runners were forced to stand in their lanes for five minutes in the rain.
She and Arnold ran on the winning 4x100 (meet record 47.37) and 4x400 relays. Arnold was second in the 100 and won the 200.
"We had to redeem our team because they were really upset. This whole meet, we were running for our (4x200)," Arnold said.
Medina senior Anna Boyert won the 800 and 1,600 before the rain came, while temperatures spiked in the 90s.
Rocky River senior Elyse Bierut ran a strong 3,200 and won in 10:47, two seconds off her PR.
"I feel like I'm in good shape," she said. "I wanted to run faster and I feel like I could have had we not had the delay."