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Published: Sunday, 6/4/2006

Eastwood's McKibben takes title

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Eastwood's Ryan McKibben wins the Division II pole vault on his first trip to the state meet. He cleared 14 feet, 9 inches. Eastwood's Ryan McKibben wins the Division II pole vault on his first trip to the state meet. He cleared 14 feet, 9 inches.
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COLUMBUS - An experienced pole vaulter and a young high jumper posted personal records to lead northwest Ohio's efforts yesterday in the Division II state track and field championship at Ohio State.

Eastwood senior Ryan McKibben cleared 14 feet, 9 inches to capture first place in the pole vault in his first trip to state, and Napoleon sophomore Ryan Fleck won the high jump with a leap of 6-8.

"I didn't even get out of districts last year," McKibben said. "I thought I'd make it to state but I didn't know I'd do this. I worked all year for this."

McKibben, who used a 16-foot pole for the first time after using 15-foot poles during the season, helped the Eastwood boys finish seventh as a team (18 1/2 points).

Akron Buchtel took the team title with 49 points. Napoleon was the second-highest finisher among area schools, taking 15th (14 points).

The Wildcats were bolstered by Fleck's impressive high jumps despite the fact that the sophomore, who is a three-sport athlete, was fighting a shoulder injury that will require surgery. Fleck said it hurts to throw a football or a baseball, but it didn't affect his jumping. He even attempted to tie the state-meet record of 7-0, but was unsuccessful on three tries after locking up first place.

"All year you work for something like this," Fleck said. "You get here and you want to win it. I got it and I'm just ecstatic. I felt like I'd been here before. You've got to do things like this once you're on the big stage."

On the girls side, Napoleon finished 10th (15 points), led by junior Chelsea Gerken. She took fourth in the long jump (17-10.75) and 13th in the 800 for the Wildcats. Ottawa-Glandorf placed 12th (14).

Bridget Frank led Mantua Crestwood to the team title (58) with wins in the 1600 and the 3200-meter runs. She set a state record in the 3200 (10:43.86).

Eastwood's Danielle Thornton finished third in the 800, clocking a personal-best 2:14.85.

"My goal was to get better than fourth today and I did that," she said of besting her 2005 finish. "I knew the two girls in front of me were awesome. I just wanted to stay as close to them as I could."

Thornton, who will run for Bowling Green State University, said she improved her time from the regional by two seconds.

"I feel very good about that," she said.

Eastwood senior Jack Schemenauer, who was ranked 12th in the preliminaries of the 300 hurdles, ended up breaking his personal-best time to take fifth in 39.43. Napoleon's Lucas Oberhaus, also a senior, finished just behind Schemenauer in 39.79.

"I wasn't even expected to make it into the finals and I ended up getting fifth," Schemenauer said. "It's a great end for my season."

Oak Harbor senior Kelly Gep-hart placed sixth in the 1600 with a personal-best and school-record time of 5:09.13.

"It was a very fast race," Gephart said. "That broke my PR by three seconds from state last year. It was an amazing way to end my career."

Allison Schroeder, a sophomore from Ottawa-Glandorf, took third in the 300 hurdles in 46.36. She was eighth last year.

Napoleon senior Elliot Vocke placed seventh in the pole vault (13-6). Edison's Sarah Foster took third in the 3200.

Wauseon senior Melissa Walls placed third in the pole vault (11-3), and freshman teammate Holly Baird met her goal of standing on the podium with a seventh-place finish in the 3200 (11:38.50).

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.



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