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Published: Thursday, 5/29/2003

Archbold girls win, boys tie in NWOAL title race

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The members of the emerging Archbold track program finally could celebrate a clean sweep by both the boys' and the girls' teams at the Northwest Ohio Athletic League meet on May 16 at their home track.

The Blue Streak girls ran away with the title by 55 points, while the boys managed a tie for the title with Wauseon. The Archbold track teams - which had won only two titles in more than two decades before the new millennium - now have won five titles in the last four years.

“The last three years, either our boys or girls had won and the other got second,” said John Downey, who coaches both teams. “So it's always been the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the same night. I always left the league meet a bit disappointed. This is the first year I've walked away and felt content.”

The Wauseon boys tied Archbold with 121 points thanks to their victory in the 1,600 meter relay.

The Indians also got victories form Drew Weber (shot put) and Carl Veith (100). Weber took first with a throw of 52-4. Veith sprinted to the win with a time of 10.88.

The Archbold boys claimed their third straight title in large part because of the performances of Nick Cameron, Nick Lynn, Phil Baden, and Justin Crites.

“We had four guys who scored 83 points,” Downey said.

Cameron, a junior, led the way for the Blue Streaks by winning both hurdle events. He ran a time of 15.2 seconds in the 110 hurdles and completed the 300 hurdles in 40.1. It was a repeat for Cameron in the 300 low hurdles, and it also set a school record.

Cameron, who had been nursing a pulled hamstring, finally got back to 100 percent at the league meet.

“He's been gimpy the last few weeks, but he ran marvelously,” Downey said. “He's an outstanding competitor. I think he has a good shot to make it to state.”

Cameron also placed second in the long jump and contributed 28 individual points to his team's total.

Lynn, a senior, won the 200 meter in 22.41. He also placed second in the 100 and the 400.

“To be quite honest, I was surprised with his performance in the 400,” Downey said. “This is the first time this year that he has run in it. His best event is the 200, and I think he has a chance to go to state in the 200.”

Lynn, who took seventh in the 200 at the regional meet last year, has become a dominant runner.

He was edged out in the 400 by junior teammate Baden, who captured the title in 51.78.

“He nipped Lynn at the finish line,” Downey said.

Baden, who is an outstanding football player, also was runner-up in the 200. Baden has been the Blue Streaks' leading tackler all three seasons and rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season. He is one of only three freshmen to start for Downey, who is in his 23rd year as Archbold football coach.

“Baden and Cameron are both really good football players,” Downey said.

Crites, a senior, took first place in the 1,600 with a time of 4:35. Crites, who finished fifth in the 3,200 at last year's regional meet, reached the state meet in cross country last fall.

“He's our dominant miler and two miler,” Downey said.

Archbold clearly ruled in the long distance and the sprint events.

“We're not bad in the high jump and long jump,” said Downey, who also got a second place finish in the high jump from Baden. “But the field events have not been our strength. Running has always been our strength.”

Downey has headed up the track program at Archbold for mor than 20 years. His boys' teams have won three titles in a row, but the only other title won by his male runners came in 1985.

“We've had good numbers out the last few years, and our track facility is second to none,” Downey said in attempting to explain the program's recent success.

He said that more than 100 boys and girls take part in the junior high program.

This season 55 boys and girls came out for the varsity track team. In comparison, Downey said that at one time he had just 12 boys out for the team.

“We've gotten 25 to 45 boys consistently over the last six years,” he said.

Downey said he has concentrated on recruiting kids to try out for track, especially those on his football team.

“I go out and beat the bushes,” Downey said. “I emphasize to [the football players] that track is like spring training for them.”

He estimated that 18 of his 26 boys also are football players.

He said the school's athletes are now eager to join the track team because of its recent emergence.

“Success breeds success,” he said. “It's not what I do. It's what the kids do.”

That success also has taken place on the girls' side for Downey's Streaks.

The Archbold girls won their second NWOAL title in four years on May 16. The Blue Streaks only other title in girls' track came in 1981.

Andrea Lange paced the Blue Streaks individually with victories in the 100 and 200. Lange also excelled on Archbold's relay teams.

All four of the Blue Streaks' relay teams won, and Lange was a member of two of them. Lange anchored the 400 and 800 relay teams.

Lange joined junior Ashley Wyse, junior Amy Krauss, and senior Cindy Allan to repeat as champs in the 400 relay with a time of 50.98.

“The exact same foursome won the league a year ago,” Downey said.

The four then joined forces to also repeat as champs in the 800 relay.

The Blue Streaks' winning 1,600 relay team consisted of junior Lindsey Holland, junior Ashley Short, sophomore Alicia Buckenmeyer, and sophomore Gina Damman. The team's time of 4:12.9 was its fastest of the year.

In the 3,200 relay, freshman Renee Hurst, senior Sally Hoeppner, and sophomore Elen Aeschliman teamed with Short to win with a time of 10:15.

“I expected our places, but I was surprised with the times,” Downey said. “Our times really popped.”

That was especially true for Lange. The sophomore tied her personal record and repeated as league champ in the 100 and set a school record in the 200.

Another sophomore, Gina Damman, blazed to the title in the 400. Her time of 60.9 was just 0.6 seconds off the school record.

Junior Ashley Ruffer took first in the 300 hurdles (47.29) and Lindsay Holland finished third.

Beyond his talented junior and sophomore class, Downey said he has freshmen that could start on the varsity on any other team in the league.

“We just have outstanding depth,” he said. “We double placed in every running event and in all four relays.”

The Blue Steaks finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the 300 hurdles and the 100, 200, and 400.

“In those four events alone we got 68 points,” Downey said.

The team effort allowed the entire track program to celebrate a championship.

“I was always excited for one and disappointed for the other,” Downey said. “I guess that's the dilemma of coaching both teams.”

On the boys' side, Liberty Center won four of the five field events. The Tigers, who finished second as a team, won the shot put (Drew Weber), the discus (Jake Kraegel), the high jump (Tory Rasey), and the long jump (Paul Smith).

Bryan's Kevin Spratt prevented a sweep by winning the pole vault.

Montpelier won the 3,200 relay and got an individual win from Evan Dilworth in the 800.

Along with winning the 1,600 relay, co-champion Wauseon earned an individual victory when Carl Veith captured the 100.

Two other NWOAL schools also got individual wins: Patrick Henry (400 relay) and Delta (Evan Gaynor in the 3,200).

While the Archbold girls captured eight of the 17 events, Liberty Center earned four individual victories.

The Tigers' Denise Matheny won the long jump and the 100 hurdles. Marielle Glanz also won two events for LC (1,600 and 800).

Other event winners were: Leslie Stong (Evergreen, shot put), Sandy Brazeau (Swanton, discus), Katie Bates (Evergreen, high jump), Melissa Walls (Wauseon, pole vault), and Susie Hill (Swanton, 3,200).

The Cardinal Stritch girls' track team continued its dominance in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference impressively at the league meet May 16.

The Cardinals scored 144 points, and Toledo Christian was a distant second with 103. It was the fourth straight TAAC crown earned by the Cardinal Stritch girls. Stritch took first place in six of the 17 events.

“Coming into the season, that was a huge goal of theirs,” said Cardinal coach Chris Fahim. “They lived up to their end of it. They had a terrific meet. It was very impressive for them, going 4-0.”

Fahim said he was surprised by the margin of victory - 31 points - over Toledo Christian at the league meet.

Individually, Toledo Christian's Bethany McGraw dominated in the sprint events and in the long jump. McGraw won the 100 and set a meet record in the 200. She also won the long jump, with a leap of 16-91/2.

The second-place Eagles also won the 400 relay.

Ottawa Hills, which finished third, won the 3,200 relay. The Green Bears also got wins from Natalie Pinkerton in the 1,600 and the 3,200 and from Tracy Curtis in the pole vault.

Danbury's Sarah Krovach claimed first place in the 800, while Maumee Valley's Kristen Meister set a meet record in the high jump (5-6).

The Danbury boys outlasted the competition at the TAAC meet on May 16 on their home turf.

The Lakers racked up 126 points beating second-place Toledo Christian by 18 points. It was Danbury's third league crown in the last five years.

Danbury's league victories have been staggered with championship years in 1999, in 2001, and this season. They are the only titles in Laker coach Brad Bauer's 13 years at the helm of the program.

Senior Chad Clemons set league meet records in the 110 and the 300 hurdles. Clemons also won the high jump with a leap of 6-4. In all, Clemons contributed 31 points to the team. He also was a member of the 1,600 relay team that took third.

Nine Danbury athletes placed in the top four in the five field events, which gave the Lakers' 70 points.

Northwood's Andy Herren prevented a sweep by Archbold in the field events by winning the shot put with a throw of 43-111/4.

Also in the boys' events, Maumee Valley won the 1,600 and 3,200 relays. The Hawks, who finished third as a team, also got two individual wins from Jamie Afridi (1,600 and 3,200). Michael Bush-Arnold also took first in the 400 and Duncan Gromko captured the 800 for Maumee Valley.

Toledo Christian won the 400 relay, while Ryan Alek got a lone championship for Cardinal Stritch in the 200.



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