There was drama right down to the final leg of the last event in Friday night's City League track and field meet at Rogers, and Whitmer used an ace in the hole to dethrone three-time defending champion St. John's Jesuit.
Senior T.J. Rowland, who amazingly was the Panthers' only event winner (at 400 meters), brought the baton home in second place to Central Catholic in the 1600 relay, and the resulting eight points was good enough to erase St. John's lead of 1.5 points.
That lifted Whitmer to 127.5 points, to 122 for the runner-up Titans, who had captured titles in four of the 17 boys events. Central was third at 92.5, Rogers fourth at 73, and Bowsher, which won five events, was next at 72.
"I'm way more happy with that second-place finish [in the relay]," Rowland said of clinching the meet. "It's great coming in my senior year and being the City champion in the open 400, but it wasn't about me.
"It was about our team, our dedication, and our hard work."
In girls competition, Notre Dame, with some added balance in its lineup, captured its first team title since 1995. The Eagles ended Bowsher's string of four straight girls team titles by placing first in six events to outpoint runner-up Whitmer 140-110.
Central's girls were third (102), and Bowsher took fourth (73).
The individual stars included five multi-event champions.
Willy Fink of Bowsher, right, trails St. John's Greg Turissini on the second lap of the 1600. He eventually overtook him to win the event in a time of 4:23.43. He later added+ a victory in the 800 meters with a time of 1:58.36.
St. John's senior thrower Cody Riffle added a meet-record shot put effort of 66-1 to his CL-record
203-5 in the discus on Wednesday.
The University of Michigan-bound standout was just one foot off the all-time Ohio record (204-5 by Akron Ellet's Charles Moye in 1987), and his 203-5 ranks third in the nation this season.
"Last week was the hardest [weight] lifting week that I've had," Riffle said of his crucial training. "A lot of Olympic lifts, a lot of snatching, bench press - just trying to get my strength up as much as I could for the week.
"It definitely helped out. I was just missing some intensity. Throwing and lifting go hand in hand, and intensity is key."
Riffle now has his eye on the larger prizes - a state title and perhaps a state record.
"This does a lot for my confidence," he said. "I was all over the place with my technique, and that's part of the reason I was having average meets. I wasn't confident at all. It was clicking.
"This week we figured something out, and it's really easy and consistent to do. I'm determined to break some heavy barriers now."
Riffle, who set CL discus (170-6) and shot (61-3.5) marks last year, was named the meet's outstanding male field-event performer.
Rogers sophomore Brianna Scott-Glover defended her CL titles in the 100 hurdles (15.03) and 300 hurdles (44.52), setting a meet record in the latter race.
Scott-Glover, who matched the 34 team points she gave Rogers last year, was named the meet's outstanding female track performer.
She also made an eye-popping late surge to give the Rams a win in the 400 relay and faded late in her final event to take fifth in the 200.
"Today I had to psyche myself up because my [right] ankle was sore," Scott-Glover said. "I broke the growth plate in it last year, and I rolled it during practice early in the season.
"I had physical therapy for three weeks. It's not as sore as it was, but it's still sore. I was just trying to shake it off and do what I could do. Altogether, I'm proud of myself and proud of our team."
Central junior Gerren Duhart took the award for the meet's top male track performer, sweeping the hurdles events (14.78 in 110s and 38.74 in 300s), taking second in the 200, and running a leg on a second-place 400 relay team.
"That was only my second time running the 300 hurdles this year," Duhart said. "My coach [Jim Petiniot] just told me to come out and run my hardest."
Bowsher had two boys who each had two individual firsts.
Sprinter Denzel Fitzgerald won at 100 (10.96) and 200 (22.31) and ran on the winning 1600 relay.
Teammate Willy Fink collected titles at 800 (1:58.36) and 1600 (4:23.43) and anchored Bowsher's runner-up finish in the 3200 relay.
Notre Dame took wins in the 800, 1600, and 3200 relays and got individual firsts from Kaila Gardner (200, 25.10), Lauren Duncan (1600, 5:22.04), and Alexandra Aughenbaugh (3200, 11:34.23).
"For a number of years, because of our cross country program, we've been strong in distance and a little weak in sprints," Notre Dame coach Ray
Strassner said. "But, with some new kids coming in, we're now a balanced team.
"They worked very hard for it. We've got some talented young ladies."
Rogers' other event winner was Jasmine Whitley in the shot put (37-4.5), and Whitmer's three girls wins came from Sammi Gwin, who repeated her CL 400 title (56.28), Allie Missler, who won the discus (109-1) and was fifth in the shot to win the meet's top female field-events performer, and Darlene Anderson (long jump , 16-3).
Central's girls got titles from Kaitlyn Krizman (800, 2:17.85) and Alexxis Knannlein, who repeated her City high jump crown (5-2).
Rounding out the list of girls individual events champions were Bowsher's Jade Brown in the 100 (12.13), and Clay's Meghan Scharer in the pole vault (9-6).
Other individual champions in the boys meet included Central's Connor Buchholz in the 3200 (9:52.77), Start's William Gauldin in the high jump (6-3), Libbey's Jerrette Bradley in the long jump (20-6.5), and St. John's Kevin Schoen in the pole Vault (14-0).
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