TIFFIN -- It can be debated how the 100-meter dash would have shaken out had defending state champion Chris Strup not sputtered to the finish line, the result of a tweaked hamstring.
What's not up for discussion is the winner of the event, Woodmore's Andrew Shrewsbury, posted a time that would've given him a chance against almost anyone. In finishing in 10.96 to capture a Division III regional crown at Tiffin Columbian, junior Shrewsbury cemented his status as a title contender at next weekend's state meet in Columbus.
"I hope so," he said. "I'm trying to stay humble. I really hope I can because it's a dream of mine to place in the top three at state, and hopefully win."
Liberty-Benton grabbed the boys' team title behind a balanced effort, and the Toledo Christian girls rode their long distance runners to a come-from-behind victory for the second straight week. The top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet, being held Friday and Saturday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at Ohio State University.
Shrewsbury exploded out of the blocks and matched Strup stride for stride until the Tinora senior came up gingerly, reaggravating a sore hamstring that has hindered him all season. Still, Strup finished second in 11.02 -- faster than his state-winning time from a year ago.
"I had probably the best blocks I've had all year," said Shrewsbury, who finished third in the 200. "Powerful, quick steps out of the blocks."
Toledo Christian's Krista Wood and Delainey Phelps finished first and second, respectively, in the 3200 for the second straight week to clinch the program's first regional title. With 57 points, the Eagles edged Bluffton (52) in a down-to-the-wire duel not unlike last week's two-point win over Fremont St. Joseph.
"We said, hey, if we finish 1-2, this whole thing's over," TC coach Paul Barney said.
Phelps won the 1600 in 5:10.98, finishing two spots ahead of Wood. Those two teamed with Darian Westmeyer and Michelle Wright on Wednesday to win gold in the 3200 relay.
Others chipped in. Barney lauded Westmeyer, who was sixth in the 300 hurdles, for "finishing a couple of places higher than she should have." The 400 relay, seeded 16th, "came on like gang-busters" to take sixth and pocket three points toward the team title.
When the meet was over, a woman in the infield introduced herself to Wood and Phelps. It was Kara Simpson, a 1997 TC graduate and the school record holder in the 3200, 1600, and 800 prior to this year.
"We finally took her name off," Wood said. "She's definitely one of my role models. I've wanted to be her for so long. She's such a great runner."
Despite crowning only two event champions, Liberty-Benton managed to stomp the boys field, accumulating 72 points to Columbus Grove's 54.5. Eagles senior Dakota Conkle was a perfect 4-for-4, finishing second in 110 hurdles and fourth in 300 hurdles, and helping to qualify two relays -- 3200 (first) and 400 (second).
Conkle's teammate in both relays, Joseph Sherrieb, matched his feat, advancing in the 400 (second) and long jump (fourth).
"A team effort is better than winning individually," said Ian Hoyt, who won high jump with a personal-best leap of 6 feet, 4 inches. "It's nice to see a collective effort pay off at the end."
LB's 400 relay was fourth.
Other area champions were TC's Rowan Shaw, a double-winner in the hurdles, and Liberty Center shot putter Nick Demaline. Shaw set two personal bests, crossing the line in 14.54 in the 110 and 38.87 in the 300, in which he nipped Elmwood's Kyle Smithey by one one-hundredth of a second. Shaw will seek to improve upon his third-place finish in the 300 at last year's state meet.
"I'm hoping to win, but I'm just aiming to do my best and hit a [personal record]," he said.
Finishing fourth in the girls competition, the highest regional placement under seventh-year coach Paul Grahl, was St. Joseph. Kelsey Burkin qualified in the 100 (second) and 200 (third), and Katie Blohm was fourth in both hurdles. Additionally, Rebecca Reinhart and Taylor Flick were second and third in discus, giving the Crimson Streaks multiple entrants in a state event for the first time. Grahl credited his thrower's coach, Brenda Peiffer, who has sent five different girl throwers to state in her six years as coach.
"To me, she's the best throwing coach in northwest Ohio," Grahl said.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @RyanAutullo.
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