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High School

Titans, Eagles rule City League

St. John’s edges Whitmer; ND rolls

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    Greg Turissini of St. John’s wins the 1600 meters to help the Titans claim the City League title. Turissini won the 1600 with a time of 4:23.40 and the 3200 in 9:43.79 to help the Titans nip Whitmer.

    <The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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    Kaila Gardner of Notre Dame wins the 400 meter dash. She won in a time of 57.88.

    <The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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Greg Turissini of St. John’s wins the 1600 meters to help the Titans claim the City League title. Turissini won the 1600 with a time of 4:23.40 and the 3200 in 9:43.79 to help the Titans nip Whitmer.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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No, technically, it was not the final City League track and field championship meet ever.

But Friday night’s 85th installment (32nd for girls) at Rogers High School was, sadly, the last such event held with its traditional full assortment of public and private schools.

It was a mix that had unquestionably made this one of Ohio’s top league meets each year with several state championship teams over the years, and nationally recognized names such as Brenda Morehead and Erik Kynard etched into its ledger of great champions.

In its final go-round, the meet once more delivered some outstanding performances.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to see more photos from the City League meet.

On the team side, Notre Dame Academy won 10 of 17 events to dominate the girls meet with a meet-record 174.5 points to easily outdistance runner-up Central Catholic (99.25), while St. John’s Jesuit needed points in the final race on the night (the 1600 relay) to post 114 points and edge defending boys champion and this year’s runner-up Whitmer (108.5).

“We’re a very balanced team, and I think we proved that today,” Notre Dame coach Ray Strassner said. “We scored in every event. It went pretty much according to schedule.”

“There were four teams coming into it that could score well, so nobody really thought that we could do it,” St. John’s coach Steve Spenthoff said. “But, we’ve had a year where we’ve just been building to this moment. We’re extremely happy and proud to be City champs in the last City championship track meet.”

Notre Dame senior Lauren Duncan completed a rare feat, winning the 1600 for the fourth straight year, this time clocking in at 5:20.14.

“After I won it my freshman year,” Duncan said, “I was like, ‘All right, I can do this.’ This year I wanted to go all out. I wanted to be a four-year champion. It was a good race, and my teammate [1600 runner-up Francesca Veluscek] really pushed me.”

Duncan also picked up a title in the 800 (2:21.97) and ran the lead leg on the Eagles’ winning 3200 relay team on Wednesday here.

Notre Dame’s Lexis Williams contributed to four Eagle victories, sweeping the 100 (12.17) and 200 (25.00) sprints individually and running the anchor legs on Notre Dame’s winning 800 and 1600 relay teams.

The Eagles’ 800 relay effort, which also included Chantalia Young, Kaila Gardner and Jessika Matthews, set a new CL meet record with a 1:40.94, breaking the 1:41.33 set by Bowsher in 2008. Gardner also picked up an individual title in the 400 (57.88) and was part of the winning 1600 relay.

Notre Dame junior Alexandra “Lexi” Aughenbaugh won the City’s 3200 title for the third straight year, running an 11:19.51. On Wednesday, she anchored the Eagles’ winning 3200 relay team.

“I loved winning as a freshman, and I just wanted to continue winning every single year,” Aughenbaugh said.” Now that I’ve won again, it just feels amazing, and it’s great to get the team victory again.”

Mykala Lewis was Notre Dame’s other champion, winning the discus with a 119-4 throw.

Rogers junior Brianna Scott-Glover recorded a first-place hurdles double in 100 highs (14.85) and 300 lows (43.27). That work earned Scott-Glover the award for the meet’s outstanding female running events athlete.

“This year I’ve been running faster and trying to bring down my times,” said Scott-Glover. “I wouldn’t say it comes easy to me. I just don’t like to lose. I push myself to get better each year.”


Kaila Gardner of Notre Dame wins the 400 meter dash. She won in a time of 57.88.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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Another three-peat on the girls’ side went to Central Catholic senior Alexxis Knannlein, who cleared 5-3 on Wednesday to win her third consecutive high jump title. She also garnered the award for the meet’s outstanding field events athlete.

“I’ve been working very hard at it,” Knannlein said. “I’ve been high-jumping since grade school, and it feels really nice to know that my work paid off.”

The Irish girls also got an event title from their 400 relay team.

Tripling on the boys side was senior DerJuan Gambrell of Rogers, an Ohio State football recruit who said he’s awaiting results of some necessary fourth-quarter academic work to qualify for eligibility to join the Buckeyes in the fall.

The versatile Gambrell won the 110 hurdles (14.56), the 400 (48.83), anchored the Rams’ winning 1600 relay team, and placed second in the high jump at 6-1.

“My hurdles time was a personal best and that race went real smooth,” Gambrell said. “I didn’t get my best [6-3] in the high jump, but I got second, and I almost got my personal best in the 400 [48.74]. So, the day went good.”

St. John’s senior distance specialist Greg Turissini and junior jumping teammate James O’Shea of St. John’s each recorded doubles to help lift the Titans to the title.

Turissini won the 1600 (4:23.40) and the 3200 (9:43.79). O’Shea, who won the long jump (21-7.5) here on Wednesday, added the high jump crown (6-5) yesterday.

“It was my goal at the start of the year to win the last City championship in both my events, and this just feels really good,” O’Shea said. “I knew there was a lot of competition, but I toughed it through and came out on top.”

They were the only Titans to place first individually, and none of the St. John’s four relay teams placed first.

Boys team runner-up Whitmer got a first-place double from junior three-sport standout Chris Wormley, the highly sought after defensive end football recruit who helped Whitmer to a City football title and to the Division I state semifinals.

Wormley won the discus with a heave of 171-3 on Wednesday and added a shot put title yesterday with a 52-3.25 effort.

“Everything I do [in the three sports] helps all around,” said Wormley, whose top two colleges choices right now are Michigan first and Ohio State second, followed by Michigan State and Notre Dame. “It keeps me conditioned throughout the season. [Track] ties into everything.”

Throughout Friday’s action, Wormley, who was ultimately named the meet’s outstanding male field events athlete, had his mind on an accident during warm-ups.

One of his practice efforts with the 12-pound shot put struck the forehead of Waite thrower Fred Schimmel, who sustained a significant head injury.

Schimmel reportedly maintained consciousness after the blow and was treated at the track before being transported to a local hospital by an emergency crew.

Whitmer also got individual titles from Alonzo Lucas in the 200 (22.21) and from Pat Siebenaller in the pole vault (13-0).

In addition to Gambrell’s heroics, Rogers also won the 800 relay.

Central Catholic won three boys events, with James Freeman winning the 100 (11.10), Josh Stump taking the 300 hurdles (39.08), and with both of those athletes running legs for Central’s winning 400 relay team.

Bowsher’s D’Angelo Sharpley won the 800 (1:56.94), and St. Francis de Sales got its only win Wednesday in the 3200 relay.

The other three event wins on the girls’ side all came in field events, with Bowsher’s Zana Oliver winning the long jump (16-10.5), Whitmer’s Kelsey Felgner taking the pole vault (8-6), and St. Ursula’s Alyeska Sturt capturing the shot put (36-7).

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