July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Track and field: Hunter Williams leads Grizzlies to gold

AVON — The Wadsworth boys and Highland girls track teams made up for lackluster performances at last year’s Avon Reynolds Relays with stellar efforts. The Grizzlies won Saturday’s 36th edition, while the Hornets were second.

Last year, the Wadsworth boys managed only 21 points and were ninth. Highland’s girls totaled 34 points and placed seventh. Needless to say, both were quite pleased with Saturday’s result at Avon Middle School.

Wadsworth's Hunter Williams anchors the first place 4x200 relay at the Avon HS Reynold's Relays. Avon's Jake Bitter is in second. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RAY RIEDEL)

The Grizzlies scored 118 points to hold off the host Eagles (106). Rocky River (94) won the girls title for the fifth time in six years, with Highland (77) just ahead of Avon (72).

Junior Hunter Williams was the catalyst for the Wadsworth boys. Williams won the 100 meters (11.50) and teamed with Quade Hanlin, Eric Yetzer and Josh Weber for another first as a member of the 4×200-meter relay (1:32.02).

Williams also contributed on two top-three relays. He combined with Hanlin, Weber and Devon Gilkerson in the second-place 4×100 (44.27) and with Hanlin, Weber and Eric Yetzer for the third-place sprint medley (1:37.41).

Wadsworth held only a 108-106 lead over Avon heading into the last event — the 4×2. The Grizzlies won decisively because the Eagles were disqualified for passing outside the baton zone.

“This feels great,” Williams said. “It seemed like we were on a roll at the beginning. After we lost to Avon in the 400 relay (the third of 10 running events), I thought we might lose. I can’t explain it. I didn’t think we were going to win it by that much (12 points). You surprise yourself sometimes.”

Williams didn’t run high school track freshman or sophomore year, but did run in middle school. Gilkerson and Ryan Looser also are new to varsity track this season.

“The last two sprints relays really stepped up,” Wadsworth coach D.J. Schrock said. “The same guys that ran the sprint medley (No. 8 of 10 running events) ran the 800 relay. They really rose to the occasion. The 3,200 relay (in between the sprint medley and 800 relay) getting second place was huge.

“We were looking at the points all the way through. We knew it was going to be us or Avon. I’m proud of our guys for stepping up. We’re very young. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come. We have a lot of guys with little or no track experience. A meet like this prepares us for conference and districts.”

Wadsworth’s Nick Winkler, Theo Bach, Jon Bach and Jeff Batey teamed to win the 4×1,600 (18:59.85) over Highland’s Stuart Arbuckle, Cole Vandenberg, Adam Holowecky and Jason Hadchiti (19:06.28). Looser and Clay Smalley combined efforts to win the long jump relay (36-3) for the Grizzlies’ other win.

The Avon win was the Wadsworth boys second relay/invite victory of the season and their fourth top-three finish of the spring. The Grizzlies won at Salem, were second at Willoughby and third at GlenOak.

Field events accounted for the Highland girls’ two wins.

Wadsworth's Nick Seme wins the discus throw at the Avon HS Reynold's Relays. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RAY RIEDEL)

Senior Rebecca Kowal won for the fourth straight year as a member of the high jump relay. She teamed with Nikki McKenna for a combined height of 10-0.

Martha Szekely and Ruby Ciesinski combined for 190-2 in discus to win over Avon Lake (189-3). Szekely led the way with a toss of 110-2, second to Avon Lake’s Christine Bohan (113-4). Szekely and Ciesinski also teamed up for second in shot put (62-5¼).

Running events did their thing to for the Highland girls. Sam Duale was second in the 100 (13.45) and teamed with Paige Springhetti, Lauren Zuro and Hallie Sours for second in the 4×100 (51.07).

The Hornets’ other second place came from the sprint medley team of Duale, Sours, Zuro and Colleen Hoynes, which barely came in second (1:55.14) to Rocky River (1:54.67).

Highland also received a third place from Carlee Rhoads in the 1,600 (5:23.55). She was also a member of the fourth-place 4×800 (10:20.08). Sam Zidd, Katie Piar and Nicole Hadler joined her on the relay.

“Today was awesome,” Rhoads said. “I wasn’t expecting us to do very well. Our track relays were great. Everyone gave it their best shot. Today was amazing.”

The Highland girls also received a third-place effort from their shuttle hurdle crew of Hallie Sours, Kate Simonis, Allison Nickell and Lauren Zuro (1:12.06).

Saturday’s performance was Highland’s first top-three finish at Avon since winning it in 2007.

“We weren’t sure how we were going to do up here because we were dealing with some girls with sore legs,” said Highland girls coach Paul Lushes. “We had to lay off in some of the events, but the girls we filled in with did a great job.”

Contact Paul Heyse at (440) 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.