On a misty track with the temperatures in the low 50s, it didn't figure to be a record-setting atmosphere for the ninth annual Knight Relays last night at St. Francis de Sales.
But apparently no one told the athletes in this highly competive track and field gathering as meet records fell in 10 of the 19 events.
Displaying quality, balance and depth, St. John's Jesuit ruled the team competition, winning eight events and scoring 131 points for first place.
Strongsville was runner-up at 100 points, last year's champion Whitmer was third at 94.5, Central Catholic placed fourth with 75, and Clay rounded out the top five at 62 points.
The victorious Titans, who seem to have about everything covered from sprints to distance to field events, showed a sampling of all of these.
"We're looking right now at trying to put it all together in two weeks at the City League meet and districts, and then try to carry it on through the state tournament," St. John's coach Steve Spenthoff said.
What I've learned in coaching track is to have balance is great, and to have depth is even better. You try to score in every event if you can. What we have this year is guys who can score in high places in all the events."
It was no big surprise that the state's best distance trio - senior twins Chris and Matt Lemon, and junior Joe Miller - excelled. The threesome combined for half of St. John's wins.
Miller won the 800 in a meet-record 1:57.97, Chris Lemon won the 1600 in a meet-record 4:15.78, Matt Lemon took the 3200 in 9:42.26, and the group combined with 400-meter runner Jerrold Clark to take the 4000-meter distance medley relay in a meet-record 10:30.93.
"We have a lot of young talent coming in, especially in the sprints, and our throwers have been phenomenal,'' Miller said. "The field events all around have been good, and the distance guys have been able to answer the call. This year we're looking for some big things to happen."
Also winning for the Titans were Jalil Carter, who sprinted to a meet-record 10.89 in the 100, and DaJon Booth, who edged Strongsville's Paul Szeltner 14.89 to 14.90 in the 110 hurdles. Carter and Booth also ran legs on St. John's winning 400 relay team. St. John's Steve Pacholek and Jon Kusowski combined for a 312-3 distance to win the discus relay event.
Individually, Central seniors Dane Sanzenbacher and Sam Hogue each had a hand in four event victories, and Sanzenbacher was voted the meet's outstanding track athlete. Discus and shot put competitor Josh Kaiser of Toledo Christian was voted the meet's outstanding field events athlete.
Sanzenbacher, who has signed to play football at Ohio State University this fall, held off Strongsville's Kendall Gregory to win the 400 in a meet-record 48.66, just .06 off the time that earned him a fourth-place finish at last year's Division I state meet.
"I was just trying to keep my form at that point," Sanzenbacher said of his stretch run versus Gregory. "When you're at that point in the race, nobody is accelerating. Everybody's just trying to hold what they've got.
"This is a great meet. We look forward to running this one all year, just because the competition's so great here. It's a good meet before City's and districts. I wouldn't call [the weather] perfect, but it's not bad."
Sanzenbacher also teamed with Hogue for Central wins in three relays - the 800, 1600, and 440 shuttle hurdles. Hogue's individual win came with a meet-record time of 38.55 in the 300 hurdles.
Whitmer's three event wins all came in field event relays.
Jeremy Jones and Kevin Koger combined for a meet-record 42-4.5 in the long jump, Brett Keller and Tim Samson teamed up for a meet-record 96-4 in the shot put, and Derek Hopkins and Ricky Sherrer combined for a winning 25-6 in the pole vault.
"This is the best meet they've ever had here by far," Whitmer coach Greg Kubicki said. "Just look at the times compared to the weather. We knew coming in that St. John's and Strongsville were loaded, so I'm pretty happy with what we did. We performed well and gave it everything we had."
The other meet record was produced by Clay's Nick Tammerine, who won the 200 in 22.58.
Rounding out the events champions, Adrian's Ivan Thompson and Ryan Meyers combined for an 11-6 in the high jump relay, and Strongsville won the 3200 relay.
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