LEXINGTON, Ohio — During the course of a tight race earlier this season, Eastwood track coach Brian Sabo heard another coach make a remark about his boys.
“He made the greatest comment about our guys, and I was sitting there and he had no idea who I was,” Sabo said. “The coach just said, ‘They just don’t go away.’ That’s what I wanted us to be.”
Eastwood proved just that Saturday.
Clinging to a one-point lead going into the final event of the day, the Eagles didn’t fade down the stretch. They certainly didn’t disappear. Instead, the Eagles won the the 1,600-meter relay to earn the final 10 points and win the Division II regional championship.
Eastwood finished with 55 points. Sandusky Perkins (44) was second, followed by Van Wert (43).
“We just said, ‘we’re going to take care of ourselves,’ ” Sabo said. “We needed a perfect day, and it was a perfect day. Our guys wanted it more than they could breathe. That’s what we talked about all year.”
Boosted by Michaela Butler’s wins in the 100 and 200 dashes, Liberty-Benton won the girls team title with 65 points. Celina (53.33) was runner-up, and Coldwater (49) finished third.
Entering the final boys event of the meet, Eastwood led Perkins 45-44, and Sabo admitted after the meet that he and his staff did the math in order to determine what finish their team would need to win the regional title. He knew the Eagles needed to finish ahead of Van Wert but didn’t tell the relay team that.
The Eagles took advantage of a smooth handoff between the second and third legs of the relay, and Derek Snowden had to hold off a push on the third lap before he handed the baton off to his younger brother Devin, who anchored the relay team.
Devin Snowden went nose-to-nose with Elida’s Quentin Poling on the last lap and made a final kick in the last 50 meters to win the event in 3 minutes, 20.91 seconds.
Van Wert trailed Eastwood by seven points entering the final event, and it’s 1,600 team finished fourth behind Elida and Norwayne.
“Elida ran a great race and that helped push us to that great time,” said Devin Snowden, who also won the regional title in the 300 hurdles (38.86) and helped Eastwood win the 400 relay (43.29). “We just went in and were going to go after it. This is better than what we expected.
“It was a good handoff [on the third lap] and then it was just really close, coming down into the straightaway. My brother gave it to me, and I just started going.”
While Eastwood needed a last-event win to earn the boys title, the Liberty-Benton girls took advantage of its depth and four individual wins.
Butler, a freshman, won two events for Liberty-Benton and helped the Eagles finish fourth in the 400-meter relay and sixth in the 1,600 relay.
“People might be looking for freshman to get psyched out, and I knew I couldn’t do that,” Butler said. “I was a little nervous [in the 100] because I stumbled out of the blocks in prelims but I focused on not doing that in finals, and I was super-excited about that.”
The top four individuals in each event advanced to the state meet Friday and Saturday at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Bryan’s Brandon Poncsak won the 110 hurdles.
Also qualifying for the state meet in the boys competition were: Eastwood’s Isaiah Conkle (third, 100), Wauseon’s Quintin Reiser (third, 1,600), Archbold’s Levi Wyse (third, 400), Eastwood’s Tim Hoodlebrink (second, 800), Rossford’s Ryan Clay (third, 800), Wauseon’s Noah Castle (third, discus), Port Clinton’s Cody Smith (second, shot put), and Delta’s Tyler Fraker (fourth, pole vault).
In the girls competition, Liberty-Benton got a boost not only from its 15 points on the first day but by its team’s all-around effort during the two-day competition.
The Eagles’ Alex DeVincentis won the shot put Thursday (44 feet, 2.75 inches) and won the discus (135-11) Saturday, ahead of teammate Liz Streaker (130-6).
“We had two top-10 discus throwers coming in, and we knew we had Michaela, and that gives you an opportunity,” Liberty-Benton coach Pat Wagner said. “That was it. We were figuring 60 points would be giving it a shot, so we got a few extra things, like Madi Greiner in the 1,600 (sixth) and 3,200 (eighth), but it was a team effort. Throwing, sprinting, long distance, and we covered everything.”
Seneca Wyse and Taylor Vernot paced Wauseon to fifth placed. Wyse, a freshman, won the 400 (57.68) and finished third in the 200 and fourth in the 100; Vernot, a sophomore, finished second in the 1,600 and second in the 3,200.
“My coach wanted me to get a 58 flat, which was half a second faster than my best time,” Wyse said. “But I just went out there, ran my race and did very well. It was a little more challenging than any other 400. In the last 100 meters I just couldn’t feel anything, and I was going as hard as I could.”
Napoleon freshman Peyton Lee won the 100 hurdles (15.14) and Evergreen’s Carly Truckor won the 300 hurdles and finished third in the 100 hurdles.
Also qualifying to state were: Napoleon’s 3,200 relay (second), Oak Harbor’s 800 relay (fourth) and 1,600 relay (third), Napoleon’s Marissa Cramer (fourth, 400), Genoa’s Carly Gose (fourth, 800), and Eastwood’s Aricka LaVoy (third, long jump).
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.