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Published: Thursday, 5/29/2003

Stritch girls, Danbury boys take TAAC titles

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Senior Chelsea Shelnick of Stritch, who repeated as a league champ, leads a hurdle event. Senior Chelsea Shelnick of Stritch, who repeated as a league champ, leads a hurdle event.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

The Cardinal Stritch girls' track team continued its dominance in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference in impressive fashion at the league meet on 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.

“Going into it, Toledo Christian had been giving us fits,” Fahim said. “We expected it to be within seven points. It's a testament to the girls and their will to fight. We had a lot of PRs.”

In fact, nine Cardinal athletes set personal records at the meet.

“They definitely left it out on the track,” Fahim said.

Fahim's teams have won the league crown in all four years that he has been coach.

“I'm four for four,” he said. “I guess it's beginner's luck.”

Fahim admitted he didn't take over a program that had been struggling. Stritch had had a number of strong teams prior to his arrival, particularly in the track events.

“They've had some very strong running programs here in both cross country and track,” Fahim said. “I didn't walk into a program that was in need of renovation.”

Senior Chelsea Shelnick won a trio of events. She won the 100 and 300 hurdles and the 400. Shelnick set a meet record in the 100 hurdles (47.7). She also repeated as league champ in the 100 and 300 hurdles.

“She just had a terrific meet again,” Fahim said. “She hasn't run the 400 at all this season, and she beat an excellent sprinter from Toledo Christian.”

Even more remarkably, Shelnick won the 400 just moments after winning the 300 hurdles.

Fellow senior Kathleen Bergman also capped a terrific four-year career by winning both field events. Bergman repeated as the champion in the shot put with a school-record breaking throw of 40-10. She also won the discus with a distance of 95-0.

The Cardinals' 1,600 relay team also captured first place. The team of Kelcee Evans, Katie Brentlinger, Melissa Adamski, and Jessica Ameling beat second-place Emmanuel Baptist by seven seconds with a time of 4:24.5.

“They've been running terrific all season,” Fahim said. “They won by a pretty good margin.”

Shelnick, Bergman and Ameling all have reached the state meet in past seasons.

“That class that came in as freshmen has really left a nice mark on the program,” Fahim said.

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.

“It's a small school, and we're just on a streak where we have good kids coming through,” Bauer said. “The more success we have, the more kids come out.”

This year's team featured solid junior and senior athletes.

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.

“He's one heck of an athlete,” Bauer said. “He just keeps getting better and better, especially in the hurdles. He's been working on his feet and technique. He's just running great times.”

Clemons' time of 15.1 in the 110 hurdles was a personal record. His fastest time had been 15.7. In the 300 hurdles, Clemons' time of 40.9 was 0.6 seconds off his best race. Yet he still bested the league record by 0.3 seconds.

Clemons, who is getting looks from Kent State University and Eastern Michigan University, has improved his time in the 300 by six seconds since his freshman year.

“He's really come on this year,” Bauer said.

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

The team got wins from junior Vinny Holden in the long jump (18-81/2) and senior Rob Glovinsky in the discus (130-4). Sophomore Zach Bauer, the coach's son, broke the league record in the pole vault with a leap of 13-0.

“Vinny had a big, big jump for us,” Bauer said. “And we knew we had to get a big jump [to win the league meet].”

Holden added 23 points to the Lakers' team total.

Glovinsky missed breaking his personal record in the discus by just a half inch.

“He's another nice senior on our team,” Bauer said. “He came out strong for us.”

The younger Bauer also has been improving. He set the league record in the pole vault as a freshman and then broke that by nearly a foot this year with a personal record.

“Thirteen feet isn't too bad for a sophomore,” coach Bauer said. “I never pole vaulted, and I was not too crazy about it. But he took a liking to it.”

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.

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).



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