PATASKALA – Rachel Elam asked to join the 4×400 relay as conditioning for the 300 hurdles.
The Heath junior never dreamed she would soon be running the Bulldogs to a championship. Elam’s teammates gave her the lead Friday and she held onto it for dear life, holding off Newark Catholic’s Taylor Daignault to win the final event, giving the Bulldogs the Licking County League-Cardinal Division team title and denying the Green Wave a piece of it at Watkins Memorial.
“I wanted to run for them because they ran their hardest,” Elam said. “There was no way I was going to lose it for us.”
The girls championship gave the Bulldogs a clean sweep as the boys rolled to the title, winning 12 of 17 events. The boys scored 160.5 points, finishing well ahead of Johnstown’s 79.
It was not quite so easy for the girls. Heath and NC traded the lead throughout the meet and the Bulldogs led by two points going into the 4×400. Danielle Titus, Shelby Grigsby and Amanda Adams set up Elam for her mad dash to the finish as the Bulldogs finished in 4:18.93 ahead of NC’s 4:19.70.
“On that last stretch, I could see the white line, but it didn’t look like it was getting any closer,” said Elam, who also won the 300 hurdles (48.43).
Heath’s boys also put a bow on their night with a win in the 4×400 relay. Heath substituted in a ‘B’ team, but Andrae Manning still worked around NC’s anchor to give the Bulldogs the title (3:38.61). Doran Dyer, Wyatt McQueen and Austin Sweitzer joined him.
“I felt like they had my back and I had theirs,” Manning said. “I was a little bit gassed. I came around that first 100 a little bit too fast, but I had to get around that guy.”
Nick Lee had Heath’s closest victory in the 1,600 as Johnstown’s Paul Lang first took the lead from Lee during the third lap. Lee, however, fought back and regained the lead down the stretch (4:41.62). He also won the 3,200 (10:29.98).
“Third lap, I really couldn’t breathe, but you have to push through it,” Lee said.
Carlos Rencher won the 200 (23.05) and 400 (49.99), Taylor Hopkins the 800 (1:58.38), Aric Adams the 110 hurdles (17.07), Gunner Babcock the long jump (20-feet-4) and Kyle Yoho the discus (147-6). Hopkins, McQueen, Nick Lines and Chandler Wilhelm won the 4×800 (8:28.93); Lines, Babcock, Treyton McCoy and Brice Sherburne the 4×200 (1:36.30) and Babcock, Adams, McCoy and Adryn McCoy the 4×100 (45.51).
In the girls meet, Adams edged Northridge’s Olivia Carpenter at the line to win the 4×200 (1:52.51), and she then shook off a tough finish in the 400 to come from behind and win the 800 (2:32.05).
“When I was coming around the corner, I heard (coach Jeff Sheets) say, ‘Do this for your team,'” Adams said. “Through this whole year, our team always has each other’s backs.”
Titus, Elam and Abby Wilhelm joined Adams on the 4×200; Wilhelm, Megan Cuevas, Audrey Townsend and Emilee Bradley won the 4×100 (54.59) and Grigsby, Cheyenne Farris, Haylee Watson and Madison Slee won the 4×800 (11:05.76).
NC’s Mary-Brigid Keck (33-2) and Sydney Bell (33-1.75) took the top two spots in the shot put, and that highlighted a strong performance in the field events for the Green Wave. Megan Stanton won the long jump (15-1), and Emily Amore matched her in the high jump (4-8). Stanton also won the 1,600 (5:41.72).
“I was hoping to break 34, but I am OK with breaking 34 at districts,” Keck said. “We have been throwing together since my freshman year and I really want to go regionals with her.”
Utica’s Lyssa Thornsberry won the 100 (13.21) and 200 (27.35), Mattney Yates the 3,200 (13:07), Abbie Wydick the pole vault (9-6) and Grace Brubaker the discus (106-10).
“It’s a good feeling because I have been struggling this season,” Yates said. “I keep getting second and I just wanted to win. In the third lap, it hit me, and I was just like, ‘I need to go and just run with it.”
Carpenter won the 100 hurdles for the Vikings (15.92) and Johnstown’s Grace Mast won the 400 (1:00.10).
In the boys meet, Johnstown’s Joshua Ashbrook won the 100 (11.60), Josiah Annis the pole vault (14-0) and Nathaniel Taylor the high jump (5-8). Utica’s Connor Gulick won the 300 hurdles (41.75) and NC’s Ryan Allyn won the shot put (46-8).