Created on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 Written by AARON LaBATT
WEST MILTON — The West Liberty-Salem girls 1,600 relay members hugged each other and cheered near the finish line here Saturday, knowing they had just set a school record.
ABOVE: West Liberty-Salem’s Alyssa Strickland battles Versailles’ Murphy Grow during the girls 3,200-meter race Saturday at the Division III district meet. FRONT PAGE PHOTO: West Liberty-Salem’s Kelvin Shank takes the baton past the finish line during his leg of the boys 1,600 relay race. (EXAMINER PHOTOS | AARON LaBATT)
The Tiger girls are competing their best when it matters most and that earned them a third-place finish Saturday at the Division III district track and field meet at the Lowry Track Complex at Milton-Union High School.
WL-Salem’s boys also gave a solid performance and advanced in six events to earn a fourth-place finish.
The top four placers in each event moved on to the Division III regional meet Wednesday and Saturday in Piqua.
“We really thought we had a shot at a team title,” said WL-Salem girls head coach Ann Vogel. “We had some races that didn’t go our way. It was the first time in school history we had all four relays get to regional, though. We have 11 individuals moving on and I’m really excited about that.”
The Tigers also set four records Saturday. The girls 400 relay of Michaela Rausch, Abigail Rabenstein, Morgan Freyhof and Megan Etgen ran a school-record time of 50.77 and the 1,600 relay of Darby Thomas, Caylee Karg, Freyhof and Meghan Vogel set a new school record with a time of 4:12.24.
Individually, Freyhof set a school record in the 200 with a time of 26.6 and Vogel set a district record in the 1,600 with a time of 5:03.34.
“We seem to be stepping up our performances when it really matters,” said Ann Vogel. “Our district is the toughest in the state when you look at the times. It can eat an athlete up. The girls really held their own against some of the best in the state.”
Versailles won the girls district title with 106 points, Russia was second with 95.3 points, WL-Salem took third with 89.3 points and Covington was fourth with 76 points. Triad finished in 17th with three points and Riverside was 20th with half a point.
It was a tight finish in the boys team race. Covington held on to edge Lehman Catholic 94.5-92 for the district championship and Anna fought off WL-Salem 77-75 to finish third. Riverside ended its season in 16th with four points.
“We had a disqualification in the 800 relay and had a couple missteps in other races that turned out to be costly for us at the end of the meet,” said WL-Salem boys head coach Bart Zirkle.
For the Tiger girls, Vogel began her state title defense in the 1,600 by winning a district title in the event Saturday with an impressive time of 5:03.34. She also qualified as an individual in the 800 after taking fourth with a time of 2:21.03.
Freyhof gave another strong performance by qualifying in four events as a freshman. Individually, she placed second in the 100 (12.8) and third in the 200 (26.6) and was also part of the qualifying 800 and 1,600 relay teams.
WL-Salem’s girls saw runners-up efforts from the 400 relay of Rausch, Rabenstein, Etgen and Freyhof (50.77) and the 1,600 relay of Thomas, Karg, Vogel and Freyhof (4:12.24).
Placing third was Alyssa Strickland in the 3,200 (11:53.64) with fourth-place finishes coming from Etgen in the pole vault (9-0) and the 800 relay of Thomas, Rausch, Rabenstein and Savanna Shipp (1:52.11).
There were plenty of other placers for WL-Salem’s girls. Finishing fifth were Rabenstein in the 100 hurdles (17.0) and the 300 hurdles (51.22) and Shawnda Henault in the 3,200 (12:00.40). Coming in seventh were Jasmine Smith in the 1,600 (5:35.7), Thomas in the 400 (1:03.10) and Etgen in the long jump (14-7 1/2), with Brooke Markin adding an eighth-place finish in the pole vault (8-0).
The WL-Salem boys claimed district titles in three events on Saturday. Aaron Scott won the 3,200 in 10:01.64, the 400 relay of Jacob Ortman, Kelvin Shank, Ross Hickenbottom and Taylor Cordell was first in 44.63 and the 1,600 relay of Conner Karg, Cordell, Shank and Hickenbottom also took first in 3:27.71.
Cordell was also second in the 110 hurdles (15.42) and third in the 300 hurdles (41.91), while other second-place finishes came from Karg in the 400 (51.15) and Alex Adams in the 3,200 (10:05.83).
For the Tiger boys, Alex Gardner was fifth in the shot put (42-8 1/2), Shank was sixth in the 200 (23.73) and Joey Adams was eighth in the 1,600 (4:48.66).
Riverside’s Ryan Davidson placed fifth in the 200 in a time of 23.73.
Look for a Division III regional preview in Wednesday’s Examiner