Two weeks before league track and field meets go on tap statewide, some of the area's top boys teams and individuals got a dress rehearsal Friday night at the 12th annual St. Francis de Sales Knight Relays.
In the team chase, three-time defending City League champion St. John's Jesuit appears poised for a solid run at consecutive title No. 4 based on its first-place showing.
Helped by one of Ohio's top discus and shot put specialists, senior Cody Riffle, the Titans posted 123 points to beat out CL foes Whitmer (106) and Clay (104), which placed second and third, respectively.
Sylvania rivals Southview (72) and Northview (64), who expect to be top contenders in the Northern Lakes League, took fourth and fifth, respectively, in the team standings.
For his part, Riffle took the meet's award for outstanding field-event performer, combining with Kyle French to win the discus relay, and with Christian Zaciewski to place second in the shot put relay.
Riffle threw 188-9 and 63-8 3/4, respectively, in the two events, good work for most prep competitors but not quite up to Riffle's own expectations for himself two weeks before league competition.
"I've even been having bad practices," Riffle said. "It was kind of a relief that I could still throw that far. In the discus, I threw an inch shorter than last year here, and that one was a PR by about 19 feet. So, this year, this is kind of a disappointment, I guess.
"I just need to start lifting more. I've been taking off [lifting] lately just to be more fresh for these meets, but I think my overall strength might be going down a little. I need to get that back up a little bit."
The award for the meet's outstanding track performer went to Clay junior hurdler Noah Buehrer, who won the 110 highs in 15.08 and also took the 300 lows in a school-record 39.80. Buehrer is relatively inexperienced in the latter event but is emerging as a standout at 300.
"I ran the 300 a little last year but not much because [teammate] Garrett Ondrus was ahead of me," Buehrer said. "He was very good. I love this race now. I like how the adrenaline pumps up and how you have to go as hard as you can the whole time.
"I was running 42s. Now that I've stepped it up it feels like it's endless, like I can do everything. I was in the zone today. I had to be."
Buehrer also long-jumped 20-4 to help the Eagles place second in that event, giving him a hand in 38 of Clay's points in the three events.
Whitmer won a meet-best six of the 19 events, with St. John's and Clay taking three each, and Southview and Bedford two apiece.
Whitmer got titles from T.J. Rowland in the 400 (51.31) and took relay wins in the 440 shuttle hurdles, 400, shot put, high jump, and pole vault.
"We started off in the field events pretty poor," Rowland said. "Then the shot put started to turn it around for us. Things just started to go our way, and we got some momentum, and our team kept building more confidence."
St. John's also got victories from Greg Turissini in the 1600 (4:30.46) and the 3200 relay. Clay's other win came in the 1600 relay.
Southview's first-place finishes came from senior sprinter Mo May, who won the 100 (11.15), and the 800 relay, which was anchored by May.
"I feel good about the NLL meet," May said.
"We're healthy, and as long as we stay healthy and strong we should do good."
Bedford's wins came in the distance medley and individually from Tommy Valade in the 3200 (9:40.53).
The only win for host St. Francis came from freshman Dan Lenart in the 800 (1:59.81).
Springfield's Elijah Howard (20-11 1/2) and Anthony Norwood (19-10) teamed up to take the long jump relay, and Northview sophomore Denzel Wheaton claimed the 200 title (22.73).
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