FOSTORIA — According to fairy tales, princes are the ones who usually come from frogs, but over the past four years, it has been the Carey girls track and field team, which finally blossomed and attended the ball in the finest of attire Saturday as it captured the Midland Athletic League championship at Fostoria’s Memorial Stadium.
“When they were freshmen, they were one of my worst freshman classes and I’ve told them that,” Blue Devils coach John Knickel said. “But they grew and stayed with it.”
It is the program’s first team title since stringing together a run of seven straight from 2002 to 2008.
“It’s exciting to see what we’ve been able to do compared to where we came from and actually show everyone we could,” senior Jenna Jesko said.
“It’s a pretty good feeling knowing that we have the MAL title,” senior Oriana Billock said. “We all got together at the end to prove that we really are a team and it’s not everyone being separate. It’s a good feeling, rather than being third (the past three years).”
In what was a back-and-forth battle all day, Carey edged out Fremont St. Joseph, 119.5-117. Mohawk finished in fifth with 64 points. Seneca East captured the boys championship with 156 points, while Old Fort (89 points) was runner-up. Carey finished in fifth (67), while the Warriors were eighth (28).
Blue Devils freshman Amber Spurlock continued her impressive rookie campaign by anchoring the dramatic 1600 relay, which decided the title.
Spurlock took the baton just steps ahead of the Crimson Streaks’ Katie Blohm, but was passed around the 100-meter mark and trailed by nearly 20 meters halfway through the leg.
“I saw that that I had to stay with her and catch her at the end,” Spurlock said. “I knew I had to catch her.”
During the next 100 meters, she did just that as she grew even with Blohm, leaving the mile relay down to just a 100-meter sprint, one which the freshman won by more than two seconds.
“I said back in March that it was going to come down to the mile-relay between two or three teams and I was just hoping that we’d be one of them,” Knickel said. “It came down to the last race and that’s the way a good track and field meet should be.”
While Spurlock got the better of St. Joseph in the 1600 relay, the Crimson Streaks’ Kelsey Burkin got the better of the greenhorn in the 800 relay, as she won the anchor leg by less than a second for first place; or so it seemed as a yellow flag went up in the final exchange zone.
Carey’s Gwen Wentling noticed the fault as she handed the baton off to Spurlock.
“When I handed off, they just had as well,” she said. “They were right beside me and they were out of their zone and I screamed at the officials that they were out of their zone. Then the yellow flag went up and said, ‘St. Joe’s, DQ’d.’ I knew we had it then.”
The disqualification gave the Blue Devils 10 points, rather than eight for second place, and stripped St. Joseph of its first-place points, which would have made the 1600 relay outcome irrelevant.
“That hurt them big time and it was a big sway,” Knickel said. “That happened to us last year and those things happen.”
Carey captured two individual titles on the day with Spurlock in the 400 dash (1:01.6) and Billock nearly coming out of no where to win the long jump (16-0) after placing second in the 100 dash (13.07).
“Oriana Billock hadn’t run the 100 (dash) all year until last week and that worked out and it seemed to free her up for long jump,” Knickel said. “She hadn’t been long-jumping well all year and this week in practice she said, ‘I got it,” and sure enough she did.”
Despite only surpassing 15-feet once all season, Billock went 16-0 on her first attempt of the day to put her nearly a foot farther than anyone else in the league as Seneca East’s Megan Felter was second (15-1.5).
The Blue Devils boys team rode the field skills of Cory Larick as he was runner-up in pole vault (14-6), tying the school record, and won long jump with a leap of 20-1.25.
“It was my absolute last jump in the finals and it was about three feet further than I was jumping the entire meet,” he said. “Without that jump, I was in fifth.”
Carey’s Brandon Distel won the closest race of the day as no one knew whether he or Old Fort’s Zach Alexander had crossed the line first.
After several minutes of looking at the monitor, it was announced the Distel had indeed won with a time of 1:59.76, just .01 quicker than his counterpart.
“I knew coming in that he was really good and I knew I had to push myself to stay with him as long as I could,” Distel said. “In that last 50-100 meters, I went to my arms and went to my legs and just kicked as fast as I could. It got really close and at the finish line, I just leaned and I guess I got him by a little bit.”
Mohawk’s Julia Daniel captured a pair of MAL titles as well as a runner-up finish in the 1600 run (5:41.44) to lead the Warriors. She won the 3200 run (12:29.60) and joined Ashley Parker, Kayla Risner and Lynsey Trusty to win the 3200 relay (10:10.36).
“I felt tired, but it’s good that I was able to win an MAL individual event,” Daniel said about the 3200 run. “We knew our coach was really wanting us to win (the 3200 relay), so we came out and did what we needed to.”
The team bested its own personal record by about 20 seconds to defeat Tiffin Calvert by less than four seconds.
The Warriors’ boys were led individually by Levi Edgington, who placed fifth in the 400 run (53.2), while its 1600 and 800 relay teams finished third and fourth, respectively.
“We tried to move some kids around in order to try and score some points and I don’t know if they ended up helping or hurting us,” Mohawk coach Brock Cleveland said. “We placed in both events which we moved people around in, but that’s what we had to do. It just seemed like we kept getting fifth and sixth places. Know we just need to fine tune (for districts).”
The 1600 relay team of Edgington, Austin Eaton, Grant Ekleberry and Alec Stillberger ran a 3:39.73, while the 800 relay squad of Eaton, Ekleberry, Jake McMillion and Jarred Shellhouse finished with a time of 1:35.69.
District meets begin 4 p.m. Thursday with Carey competing at Liberty-Benton and Mohawk traveling to Bucyrus. The finals for both days are Saturday.
1. Seneca East, 156; 2. Old Fort, 89; 3. Tiffin Calvert, 81; 4. Fremont St. Joseph, 79.5; 5. Carey, 67; 6. Hopewell-Loudon, 61.5; 7. New Riegel, 40; 8. Mohawk, 28; 9. Lakota, 22; 10. Fostoria St. Wendelin, 21; 11. North Baltimore, 15.
400 dash: 5. Edgington (M), 53.2; 7. Stillberger (M), 54.5.
800 run: 1. B. Distel (C), 1:59.76; 7. Edgington (M), 2:10.08.
3200 run: 7. Hoerig (M), 10:35.16.
110 hurdles: 8. Messersmith (M), 16.93.
300 hurdles: 8. Messersmith (M), 44.1.
400 relay: 2. Carey (Cusac, Larick, Arredondo, Saenthavisouk), 44.90.
800 relay: 4. Mohawk (Eaton, Ekleberry, McMillion, Shellhouse), 1:35.69; 6. Carey (Cusac, Larick, Arredondo, Saenthavisouk), 1:35.90.
1600 relay: 3. Mohawk (Edgington, Eaton, Ekleberry, Stillberger), 3:39.63; 5. Carey (B. Distel, Cusac, Leist, Arredondo), 3:43.18.
3200 relay: 5. Carey (B. Distel, Leist, Kromer, Logsdon), 8:59.90; 6. Mohawk (Parker, Stillberger, Hoerig, Edgington), 9:21.46.
Shot put: 5. Goble (C), 44-2.5.
Discus: 5. Swartz (C), 128-01; 6. Coppler (C), 123-01.
High jump: 2. Arredondo (C), 6-0.
Long jump: 1. Larick (C), 20-1.25.
Pole vault: 2. Larick (C), 14-6; 8. Collet (C), 10-0.
1. Carey, 119.5; 2. Fremont St. Joseph, 117; 3. Seneca East, 85; 4. Lakota, 66; 5. Mohawk, 64; 6. Fostoria St. Wendelin, 54; 7. North Baltimore, 45.5; 8. Tiffin Calvert, 31.56; 9. Old Fort, New Riegel, 28; 11. Hopewell-Loudon, 24.5.
100 dash: 2. Billock (C), 13.07; 8. Wenner (C), 14.10.
200 dash: 4. Spurlock (C), 27.89; 6. Wenner (C), 28.83.
400 dash: 1. Spurlock (C), 1:01.6; 2. Wentling (C), 1:01.7; 6. Trusty (M), 1:06.0; 7. Risner (M), 1:06.4.
800 run: 4. Jesko (C), 2:33.72; 7. A. Parker (M), 2:36.49.
1600 run: 2. J. Daniel (M), 5:41.44; 6. H. Daniel (M), 5:52.78;
3200 run: 1. J. Daniel (M), 12:29.60; 5. H. Daniel (M), 12:51.02; 7. Troiano (C), 13:30.61.
110 hurdles: 7. Konkle (M), 17.76; 8. Weininger (M), 17.99.
300 hurdles: 6. Niederkohr (C), 53.7; 7. Putnam (C), 54.8; 8. Weininger (M), 55.4.
400 relay: 3. Carey (Roszman, Billock, Wentling, Wenner), 52.80; 7. Mohawk (Konkle, Weininger, Aub. Flood, Aud. Flood), 56.10.
800 relay: 1. Carey (Billock, Wenner, Wentling, Spurlock), 1:50.02; 5. Mohawk (Risner, Aub. Flood, Weininger, Konkle), 1:55.57.
1600 relay: 1. Carey (Wentling, Jesko, Worst, Spurlock), 4:14.99; 5. Mohawk, J. Daniel, A. Parker, Risner, Aub. Flood), 4:37.16.
3200 relay: 1. Mohawk (J. Daniel, A. Parker, Risner, Trusty), 10:10.36; 3. Carey (Underwood, Troiano, Worst, Jesko), 10:34.16.
Shot put: 4. Decker (C), 33-7; 6. Newell (C), 30-8.
Discus: 4. Decker (C), 113-10.
High jump: 3. Newell (C), 4-10; 4. Babcock (M), 4-10; 6. Hoepf (M), 4-8.
Long jump: 1. Billock (C), 16-0; 5. Altvater (C), 14-5.
Pole vault: 4. Greene (C), 8-0; 6. Wickiser (C), 8-0.
By PATRICK MASSARA