Whitmer, Notre Dame defend TRAC crowns in track and field

Findlay’s Brown wins 4 boys events; sprinter Young sparks Eagles to title

Findlay's Tyler Brown runs in the 400-meter race at the TRAC meet. Brown won the 200, 400, high jump, and long jump.
Findlay's Tyler Brown runs in the 400-meter race at the TRAC meet. Brown won the 200, 400, high jump, and long jump.

It was a little bit closer than the first time around, but the Whitmer boys and Notre Dame girls repeated their respective Three Rivers Athletic Conference track and field championships Friday night at Central Catholic’s Gallagher Stadium.

Whitmer held off a charge from Findlay and its senior standout, Tyler Brown. The Panthers outpointed the Trojans 121-109 for the boys team title, securing the crown with a second-place effort in the final event of the night, the 1600 relay.

Fremont Ross edged St. John’s Jesuit for third, 97.5 points to 97.

“I can’t say enough about these guys and the heart they’ve got,” Whitmer boys coach Jeremy Elliott said. “We have an unbelievable senior class that leads this team week in and week out. This is a big win for us, but we’re not done. We’ve got a big week coming up [at district meet].”

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Oddly enough, Notre Dame not only repeated its girls crown, but the Eagles did it by scoring the exact same total of points (153.5) as they did in winning the inaugural TRAC meet last year at Whitmer.

Whitmer was second at 115, and Clay, led by junior distance specialist Erin Gyurke, placed third at 108. Central Catholic took fourth with 97.5 points.

“We knew we’d have a battle, and we sure did with Whitmer and Clay,” Notre Dame coach Ray Strassner said. “They were both tough. I think we did it again by being a balanced team.

“The distance kids scored some points, Chantalia [Young] doubled in the sprints, and we scored some points in the field events. We’re a little deeper, and that’s a big part of our success.”

Findlay’s Brown, who will attend Eastern Michigan University on a track scholarship, was the overall star of the meet, winning four individual events, including one he had never even competed in before Wednesday’s preliminary heats.

Notre Dame's Chantalia Young defeats Fremont Ross' Ariana Spencer at the finish of the 400-meter relay. Young also won the 100 and 200.
Notre Dame's Chantalia Young defeats Fremont Ross' Ariana Spencer at the finish of the 400-meter relay. Young also won the 100 and 200.

He won the high jump by clearing 6 feet, 8 inches, soared 23-8.5 to capture the long jump, repeated his title at 400 meters with a time of 49.29 seconds, and added a win in his newest race, the 200 (22.08).

That body of work earned Brown awards as both the outstanding track athlete and the outstanding field-event athlete for the boys meet.

“The 200 was a last-minute decision before the deadline,” Brown said. “I tried to put my knowledge of the 400 into it, and it seemed to work out. We scored more points than we had planned on.

“I was in sixth after the first 100 and I didn’t want to look too stupid, so I kicked it into gear and it worked out for the best.”

On the girls side, Gyurke took the outstanding track athlete award by winning the 1600 (5:10.24) and 3200 (11:17.44) races Friday, after running a leg on Clay’s winning 3200 relay team here on Wednesday.

“It’s really exciting and always great to help the team,” Gyurke said. “Winning is obviously fun, and I’m very happy with my times today.

“I knew I had some competition in the [1600] and I was ready to go. In the [3200], it was all about keeping the pace and keeping my energy up.”

Clay also got victories from sophomore Grace Winckowski in the 100 hurdles (15.92), senior Nicole Breeden in the discus (136-2), and from freshman Haley Hess, who edged her twin sister Hannah to win the 800 (2:20.97 to 2:22.07).

Another set of twins dueled to the finish on the boys side, where senior Nick Holley of Whitmer passed brother Nate in the finals few meters to win the 300 hurdles (39.94 to 40.07).

Nick Holley repeated his title in the pole vault by clearing 14-0.

“It was a surprise to me because I just got out of the hospital [treated for an infection] and I only had two days of conditioning,” Nick Holley said. “I was a little shocked, but I was just doing it for the team."

The only other individual double in the girls meet came from junior sprinter Chantalia Young, who won both the 100 (12.55) and 200 (25.61) dashes, and anchored Notre Dame’s winning 400 relay team.

“I just came out here to run my race,” Young said. “I wasn’t really worried about anything at all. I tried to stay focused and didn’t worry about who was on either side of me.

“We lost three good seniors from last year and still won it. That shows how strong we are as a team.”

Notre Dame’s other individual title came from Madison Krischak in the 300 hurdles (47.57).

The other double in the boys meet came from Fremont Ross junior Jared Ballenger, who placed first in the discus (171-8) and shot put (56-10.5).

The individual girls award for outstanding field-event athlete was shared by senior Ariana Spencer of Fremont Ross, who won the long jump (16-9.5), and junior Alaya Hayes of Whitmer, who won the shot put (41-6.5).

Other boys champions were St. Francis senior Kyle Lach (1600, 4:21.74) and sophomore David St. John (3200, 9:31.93), Central senior James Freeman (100, 10.94), and St. John’s freshman Jakes Barnes (800, 1:59.27).

Fremont Ross won the boys 400 and 800 relays events, St. John’s took the 1600 relay, and St. Francis won the 3200 relay.

Rounding out the girls champions were Central junior Kiana McClendon (400, 59.56) and senior Avery Murnen (high jump, 5-0), and Whitmer junior Kaitlyn Barber (pole vault, 10-0). Central won the 800 and 1600 girls relay events.