By TED RADICK
District track and field meets are all about survival.
Finish in the top four in an event, and survive to compete at next week’s regional.
That said, true competitors still want to win.
“I’ll take it,” Liberty-Benton pole vaulter Dylan Cornwell said after winning the event during the first day of competition at the Division III district meet at L-B.
Event finals were held Thursday in several field events and in the 3,200-meter relay, while running event preliminaries also were contested.
The meet continues at 11 a.m. Saturday with the remaining field event finals, followed by running finals at 12:30 p.m.
Cornwell jumped 14-4 to win the pole vault, edging Riverdale’s Seth Knoll (14-0). Bluffton’s Clay Wilson (13-8) and Arlington’s Aaron Starr (13-4) also advanced to next week’s regional meet at Tiffin.
“It went pretty good for the most part,” Cornwell said. “Like coach (Tim Decooman) told me, all I had to do was advance. My vaulting wasn’t near what it needed to be, but I advanced so I have another week to fix that.”
Cornwell is rounding into form after a left hamstring pull knocked him out of some early-season meets. He came back for the Liberty-Benton Invitational, only to no-height there.
“That bad meet that I had kind of threw me off a little bit, but I’m back where I want to be,” he said. “Mentally, I’m where I want to be. Physically, I’m 100 percent. I need to polish up the little things and it will all come together.
“I need to work on the top-end stuff and I’ll be all right. I’ve been doing pretty good at practice, I just have to put it all together in a meet.”
While Cornwell is responding after missing time with an injury, Arlington’s Lauren Willow now has to deal with one.
Willow won the girls high jump with a leap of 5-0, but a foot injury during the competition left her in distress.
While waiting her turn after clearing 4-10, she sprained her foot trying to stay warm.
“I was just on my toes, doing my little stretches, and the upper half of my foot went under me or rolled,” she said. “I don’t know exactly what happened, all I know is when it happened I was in pain.”
Willow hit the 5-foot jump to win, mainly by hauling herself over the bar with pure strength rather than jumping technique. Ada’s Carlee Marshall (5-0), Upper Scioto Valley’s Brittany Holbrook (4-10) and Columbus Grove’s Alexis Ricker (4-10) also advanced.
“I knew there were five competitors left for four places (at regional), and if I didn’t jump I was going to be out,” Willow said. “My goal was to make it to regionals and once I made it, it was a big relief.”
Grove’s Lynea Diller was also relieved to win the shot put (38-7), but also just to make the grade on her own team to be able to throw at districts.
Columbus Grove has a well-deserved reputation for quality throwers, and the Bulldogs are so loaded that throw-offs are held during the season to determine the top two who get to compete at meets.
“There’s a lot of pressure, because there are so many good throwers at Grove,” Diller said. “Out of 18 throwers this year, there were five of us who are very, very good shot put throwers. We are all really close in distance. It’s good, because we have each other to keep pushing ourselves.”
It’s stiff competition among the Bulldogs.
“At least two or three days before a meet, we’ll have a throw-off where the girls will compete to see who goes farthest,” Diller said. “Our coach (Rick Maag) has a lot do with that, too, and he makes the final decision.
“Every girl deserves to go, so it’s very hard to throw-off every meet. You always know that it’s now or never. Sometimes, it’s more pressure than the actual meet. For discus, I didn’t make it a couple of times. It’s very nerve-wracking.”
It must work, because Diller’s teammate Aubrey Fruchey was second (37-3/4) to cruise through to the Tiffin regional. Riverdale freshman Carrol Pauley (33-111/2) and Pandora-Gilboa’s Mackenzie Swary (33-11/2) also advanced.
“Our regional will be very hard to get out of, because we have (McComb’s Molly) Leppelmeier and (Leipsic’s Holly) Averesch there,” Diller said. “Those two will be my top competitors. I wish them the best of luck also, but I really hope I can pull out a 40. I just have to keep my head on straight and maintain my composure.”
In other event finals, Liberty-Benton got a 1-2 finish in the boys long jump as B.J. Lawson (21-43/4) edged teammate Chase Cook (20-81/2). Arlington’s Starr also advanced with a fourth-place leap of 20-1/2.
Pandora-Gilboa’s Tyler Boes placed second in the boys discus with a 146-4. He’ll be joined at Tiffin by Bluffton’s Hunter Smith (third, 145-2) and Carey’s Kyle Swartz (fourth, 142-4.)
Pandora-Gilboa got a victory in the girls 3,200 relay as Anna Abeloska, Olivia Velasquez, Mary Hroudova and Breana Hovest won handily in 10:10.44. Van Buren (10:21.28), Bluffton (10:23.07) and Cory-Rawson (10:23.07) also qualified for the regional meet with Bluffton taking third place in a photo finish.
Columbus Grove took the boys 3,200 relay with Alex Giesige, Colton Grothaus, Lee Altenburger and Bryce Sharrits finished in 8:23.98. Riverdale (8:26.11) and Van Buren (8:35.88) were second and third.
Girls Team Standings
1, Columbus Grove 24. 2 (tie) Pandora-Gilboa & Arlington 15. 4, Ada 14. 5, Bluffton 11. 6, Riverdale 10. 7, Van Buren 9. 8, Upper Scioto Valley 6. 9, Cory-Rawson 5. 10 (tie) Waynesfield-Goshen & Allen East 4.
Regional qualifiers and area finishes
SHOT — 1, Diller (CG) 38-7. 2, Fruchey (CG) 37-3/4. 3, Pauley (Riv) 33-111/2. 4, Swary (P-G) 33-11/2. 7, Edgington (Blu) 31-0. 8, Edler (VB) 30-111/4.
HJ — 1, Willow (Arl) 5-0. 2, Marshall (Ada) 5-0. 3, Holbrook (USV) 4-10. 4, Ricker (CG) 4-10. 5, Walden (Ada) 4-10. 6, Oberly (Blu) 4-8. 7, Russell (Arl) 4-8.
3,200 RELAY — 1, Pandora-Gilboa (Abelovska, Velasquez, Hroudova, Hovest) 10:10.44. 2, Van Buren (Sturgill, Flanagan, Endicott, Resnik) 10:21.28. 3, Bluffton (Steinmetz, Humphreys, Marhsall, Sommers) 10:23.07. 4, Cory-Rawson (vonStein, Scott, Kussmaul, Roebke) 10:23.07. 5, Riverdale (Martin, Manns, Hunter, Arras) 10:53.47. 6, Arlington (Russell, Miller, Palmer, McMath) 10:56.56. 7, Ada (Bagais, Hunter, Walden, Sutton) 11:00.96. 8, Columbus Grove (Smith, Myerholtz, Malsam, M. McCluer) 11:16.52.
Boys Team Standings
1, Liberty-Benton 35. 2, Columbus Grove 21. 3, Waynesfield-Goshen 20. 4, Riverdale 16. 5 (tie) Bluffton & Arlington 15. 7, Pandora-Gilboa 13. 8 (tie) Upper Scioto Valley & Van Buren 6. 10, Carey 5. 11, Ada 3. 12, Ridgedale 1.
Regional qualifiers and area finishes
DISCUS — 1, Huber (W-G) 149-5. 2, Boes (P-G) 146-4. 3, Smith (Blu) 145-2. 4, Swartz (Car) 142-4. 5, Roney (CG) 141-3. 6, Boyd (L-B) 134-9. 7, Dumbaugh (Ada) 131-4.
LJ — 1, Lawson (L-B) 21-43/4. 2, Cook (L-B) 20-81/2. 3, Stephens (USV) 20-1. 4, Starr (Arl) 20-1/2. 5, Lugibihl (P-G) 19-53/4. 6, Hunter (Arl) 19-41/2. 7, Bogart (CG) 19-33/4. 8, Jolliff (Ada) 19-1/2.
PV — 1, Cornwell (L-B) 14-4. 2, Knoll (Riv) 14-0. 3, Wilson (Blu) 13-8. 4, Starr (Arl) 13-4. 6, Shafer (CG) 12-6. 7, Ca. Grothaus (CG) 12-0.
3,200 RELAY — 1, Columbus Grove (Giesige, Co. Grothaus, Altenberger, Sharrits) 8:23.98. 2, Riverdale (Evans, Pever, Lauck, Fox) 8:26.11. 3, Van Buren (Stall, Hiris, Schumacker, Simmons) 8:35.88. 4, Waynesfield-Goshen (Motter, Hannon, Wicker, Miller) 8:37.75. 5, Liberty-Benton (Lyberg, Gleason, Vorst, Wolford) 8:41.17. 6, Bluffton (Hoff, Harnish, Andreas, Begg) 8:51.56. 7, Arlington (Jones, Elledge, Ross, McDowell) 9:07.08. 8, Pandora-Gilboa (Herr, Traxler, Lugibihl, Latham) 9:26.16.