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Comets fly to title as Bombers take second
Comets fly to title as Bombers take second
By TONY LANGE
Winning six individual events and three relay events paced the Solon boys' track and field team to a dominant Division I Northeast District championship at Ravenna last Friday.
The Comets scored 169.5 points. Runner-up Kenston, which scored 99 points, won two events and advanced three of its four relays to regionals. The rest of the 16-team field struggled to keep up. The top four finishers in individual events and relay events qualified for the regional meet in Youngstown at Austintown-Fitch High School, which holds its finals at 4 p.m. May 27.
Leading the way for the Comets at the district meet was junior Rod Jackson, who finished first in all four events that he ran. He won the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.75, edging out his nearest competitor by 0.02 second. Jackson also won the 300 hurdles with a time of 39.72, beating his teammate Kegan King, a sophomore, who was second with a time of 40.48.
Jackson is just a really fast, strong athlete, Solon head coach Dan Iwan said. "When it comes down to the 110s, he kind of just powers through those," he said. "With the 300s, not only is he big and strong, but he's fast."
King showed up much more developed this season and wants to win every race, Iwan said. He was in fifth place at the turn heading into the final 100 meters of the 300 hurdles, he said.
"It was just really exciting seeing Kegan come from behind and advance to regionals," Iwan said. "Rod was real excited. He finished and looked back and saw Kegan finished second, and they had a little celebration at the finish line."
Jackson also was a member of the Comets' winning four-by-200 and four-by-400 relay teams, which he led off from the starting block.
The four-by-200 relay team included Jackson, Jeremy Nelson, Khoury Crenshaw and Matt Nelson, who finished with a 1:28.47, which was 0.1 second off the district record and school record set by the 2010 Solon squad. The winning four-by-400 relay team included Rod Jackson, Nelson, Christian Jackson and Thompson, who finished with a 3:22.99.
Nelson and Thompson, seniors, also were members of the triumphant four-by-100 relay, which also included sophomore Crenshaw and Darian Hicks. It clocked in at 42.48.
Adding to his three relay victories for the Comets, Thompson also won the 200-meter dash with a 22.12, beating his nearest competitor by 0.74 second.
Having to start his individual race out of the blocks, Thompson tried to attack it differently, he said. "I'm way more nervous for my individual event than for my relays," he said. "For my relays, I always know that if I mess up I have three other guys that will pick up the slack for me. But in the open, that's all on me. I have to focus mainly on my start."
Thompson represents the Comets well as a captain and leader, Iwan said.
"To me, he represents our team," Iwan said. "He is really, really focused, he's really, really tough, not just physically tough but mentally tough. Nothing really fazes him too much. He's just always ready to accept a challenge. I can always count on him to give everything he's got, and he's a leader and our leader. His stat sheet just scratches the surface of what he brings to the team."
Thompson said his favorite race is the four-by-400 relay, which he anchors. "I love anchoring the four-by-four," he said. "It's the most fun race in track. It's when everyone comes over to cheer on their team. It just wraps up the meet nicely. When it's a close race, that's the best, because now everybody's spiting to win the race, the crowd is hyped, I get hyped, so it's always fun to bring the four-by-four home."
The four-by-400 is exciting, the four-by-100 shows quickness and precision, and the four-by-200 is what Thompson considers himself best at as a 200-meter sprinter, he said.
"I love the opportunities for relays," Thompson said. "I like that coach puts the trust in me to carry the baton around the track and get the team to states."
Crenshaw, who was a member of the four-by-200 and anchored the four-by-100, also took an individual first place for the Comets in the 100-meter dash as he clocked in at 11.19 seconds, besting his nearest competitor by 0.28 second.
"It felt pretty good. I was pretty satisfied with the position I took in that race," Crenshaw said. "I was pretty happy to win the district. It means I have a lot to look forward to, and I just have to do my best at the regional meet."
Crenshaw, who ran under 11 seconds for the 100 earlier in the season, had a slow start out of the blocks during his district race, he said. "I think my start needs to be tightened up, probably because I didn't get out that well," he said. "If I can get that down, hopefully, I should be pretty good for regionals."
Besides Jackson's hurdle victories, the Comets also had a double winner the field events with AJ Hicks' throwing. He threw 180 feet in the discus, besting his nearest competitor by 26 feet. That distance was 1 inch shy from his third-place state finish last spring.
In the shot put, Hicks threw for 64 feet, 1.5 inches, besting second place by more than 12 feet. Last year, Hicks threw 56 feet, 8.25 inches for fifth place at the state meet.
Leading the way for the Kenston boys' track team, sophomore Owen Norley advanced to the regional meet at Austintown-Fitch in all four of his events, becoming just the second Bomber in school history to do so. Individually, he won the 1,600-meter run with a 4:29.56 and placed fourth in the 800-meter run with a 1:59.17.
Norley was not expecting to win the mile race, he said. "I came out, and I had a solid first couple of 100 sprints, so I came out in front of the pack and just held on," he said. "I stayed in front, and it was a very comfortable pace. In the third lap, I got passed by a kid, and he took a solid lead. I was hoping I could catch up to him in the final 300, so I just kind of hung on and then sprinted past him and held on at the end."
Norley also anchored the third-place four-by-800 relay, which clocked a 8:08.71, with juniors J.T. Ward, Sean Slaughter and Luke Porter. Norley got the baton in fifth placed, which put him in a good position to help his team advance to regionals, he said.
"It's just strange, because when you start in the open eight, you can hang onto people, and when you're running the relay in the finishing leg, you've got the people in front of you, the people behind you. You have to worry about everything," he said. "You try to run your normal race, but it's just different. It's a little nerve wracking, because your teammates have done so well for you, and you don't want to blow it and do as good as possible."
Also taking home an individual championship for the Bombers was senior Jack Rolf, who won the 400-meter dash in 50.06 seconds. The hype of the district meet put him off to a fast start in that race, he said.
"The first 300 was probably the fastest I've ever ran in a 400 all season, and the last 100 was a really tough stretch," Rolf said. "You kind of just have to go through the pain. I always say eat the pain, and it will go away and just not think about it. It felt really good to win. I didn't even run it last year, so to winning it this year was really something special to end on a nice note senior year."
Rolf also anchored the third-place four-by-400-meter relay, which finished with a 3:26.69 and advanced to districts, with senior teammates Dreadnaught Stubbs and Tre Smith, as well as sophomore Norley.
"Owen can do it all, that's for sure," Rolf said of Norley. "The relay, it's just awesome, because it's the last race of the day. Your body is just tired from the open 400, and you have to run another one. You have to suck it up. Running anchor is definitely the most fun, because you get the baton, and you have to track people down and keep your own, and I think the adrenaline rush is much more for the relays, because you're doing it for your team."
The mindset for the Bombers at regionals is just to stay alive, Rolf said. "You take it a race at a time, and if you stay alive that day, that's all you've got to worry about."
BOYS' DIVISION I
The top four finishers advance to regional competition.
Four-by-800 relay: 2. Zack Zimmers, Max Haiss, Eric Hansen, Paul Arters, Solon, 8:01.20; 3. J.T. Ward, Sean Slaughter, Luke Porter, Owen Norley, Kenston, 8:08.71.
110 hurdles: 1. Rod Jackson, Solon, 14.75.
100 dash: 1. Khoury Crenshaw, Solon, 11.19; 4. Michael Weilacher, Kenston, 11.59.
Four-by-200 relay: 1. Rod Jackson, Jeremy Nelson, Khoury Crenshaw, Matt Thompson, Solon, 1:28.47.
1,600-meter run: 1. Owen Norley, Kenston, 4:29.56; 3 Kevin Blank, Solon, 4:30.22.
Four-by-100 relay: 1. Darian Hicks, Matt Thompson, Jeremy Nelson, Khoury Crenshaw, Solon, 42.48; 2. Michael Weilacher, Ryan Huffman, Tre Smith, Darryl Richards, Kenston, 43.13.
400 dash: 1. Jack Rolf, Kenston, 50.06.
300 Hurdles: 1. Rod Jackson, Solon, 39.72; 2. Kegan King, Solon, 40.48.
800-meter run: 2. Paul Arters, Solon, 1:58.74; 4. Owen Norley, Kenston, 1:59.17.
200 dash: 1. Matt Thompson, Solon, 22.12; 2. Darryl Richards, Kenston, 22.86; 3. Khoury Crenshaw, Solon, 23.15.
Four-by-400 relay: 1. Rod Jackson, Jeremy Nelson, Christian Jackson, Matt Thompson, Solon, 3:22.99; 3. Dreadnaught Stubbs, Owen Norley, Tre Smith, Jack Rolf, Kenston, 3:26.69.
Discus: 1. AJ Hicks, Solon, 180-00; 4. Reggie Jagers, Solon, 141-09.
High jump: 3. John Kolibab, Kenston, 6-02.0; 4. Brett Goudy, Solon, 6-02.0.
Long jump: 2. Darian Hicks, Solon, 21-04.5.
Shot put: 1. AJ Hicks, Solon, 64-01.5; 3. James Romanowski, Kenston, 51-02.25; 4. Lou Mantush, Kenston, 49-07.5.
Pole vault: 2. Karl Pierce, Solon, 14-00.0.
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