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Published: Sunday, 6/6/2010

Eastwood boys claim second track title

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

COLUMBUS - Gary White coached track for 20 seasons before the Eastwood boys team won a state track championship last spring.

A modest, yet talented and resolute band of three Eagles - led by standout thrower Justin Welch - needed only one year to score the Eagles' second Division II boys state championship.

Welch, sprinter Cody Seifert, and middle-distance runner Nick Twining produced a total of 38 points to give Eastwood a six-point edge over runner-up Peninsula

Woodridge.

"Two in a row and it feels awfully good," said White, moments after the Eagles were presented with the Division II boys state team trophy yesterday afternoon at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. "It's a credit to the guys."

Welch, who jump-started the Eagles' run at consecutive titles on Friday by winning his first state shot put title, accounted for 20 points after two events when he won the discus title Saturday for an impressive third consecutive season. His winning throw sailed 197 feet, 1 inch, topping his own Jesse Owens Stadium record of 196-1 set at last year's state meet.

Although he came up shy of the state record (204-5), his overall performance couldn't have been more valuable to the Eagles.

Akron Buchtel and Dayton Dunbar finished tied for third and Poland Seminary placed fifth to round out the top five in the boys standings.

Cleveland Collinwood won the Division II girls state championship with 77 points, followed by Columbus Bishop Hartley with 71, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy 57, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 26, and Warrensville Heights 19 to complete the girls top five.

"I'm pretty happy about getting a third state title," Welch said moments after standing on top of the awards stand to receive his discus medal. "I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get the state record, though.

"I felt pretty confident about winning [the discus]; the main goal was to try and break the record."

Conditions weren't quite ideal for Welch to pop off a state meet record. An early morning rainfall made footing in the ring a concern. Welch never gained complete confidence with his steps in the throwing area.

But he knew on the release of his third throw that it was a solid effort.

"It was a pretty easy throw, but it had power behind it," Welch said.

And White couldn't have asked for any more out of Welch, who bested his state-winning discus effort a year ago by a foot.

"It was a strong ending for his career," White said. "I'm really proud of him becoming a three-time state discus champion."

Seifert came through to place second in the 100 meters (11.06) and third in the 200 meters (22.25) to contribute to Eastwood's cause. The Eagles senior, whose career has been hampered by injuries, just missed winning an individual title after getting nipped at the finish line of the 100 by Akron Buchtel's Nathaniel Harris, who ran 11.00.

Seifert said White prepared them to compete for another team championship even though they went into this year's meet with about a quarter of the qualifiers Eastwood had in the past two seasons. The Eagles finished as state runner-up in 2008.

"He [White] said if everybody came out here and gave a good effort we'd see where we were at the end of the day," Seifert said.

Twining's first trip to state resulted in a fifth-place finish in the 800 with a personal record of 1:55.03. He found himself forced to run to the outside of a small pack of runners shortly after the completion of the first lap, which could have cost him a little time and energy.

"I [ran a] P.R. [personal record], so I'm not upset," Twining said. "I felt good until about the last 100 meters."

Napoleon's Steve Weaver finished fourth in the 1600 with a time of 4:21.45, and Fostoria's Ray Foster took fourth in the 200 by crossing the finish line in 22.54.

Wauseon's Todd Christy claimed fourth in the discus with a throw of 163-11. Tiffin Columbian's Brandon Stephens, Tyler Ward, Austin Bentz, and Derek Kneeskern closed out their season with a sixth-place effort in the 400 relay with time of 42.95.

Defiance's Megan Vogelsong led from beginning to end to win the 3200 with a time of 10:52.48, and Van Wert's Lauren Taylor took sixth place with a time of 11:23.83.

Napoleon's Kendall Homan leaped 18.025 to earn second place in the long jump and sprinted to a time of 15.05 to place fourth in the 100 hurdles.

Bryan's Alyssa McBride cleared 11-9 for fifth place in the pole vault.

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.



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