June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Track and field: Keith Yohman’s versatility hard to match

Brunswick's Keith Yohman is the 2013 Gazette boys track MVP. (RON SCHWANE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION)

If it wasn’t for Solon’s Khoury Crenshaw, Keith Yohman might be polishing three Northeast Ohio Conference championship medals.

If it wasn’t for a strained hamstring, the Brunswick sprinter might be doing the same thing to a handful of state medals.

And if it wasn’t for Yohman, the Blue Devils boys track team wouldn’t have been the same.

The senior’s versatility, athleticism and overall leadership made him one of the best in Medina County and earned him The Gazette’s MVP award in the sport.

“You could put him in just about any event and he would score,” Brunswick coach Scott Merrill said. “You could count on him in a typical meet in the 100, 200, long jump and a relay. He understood the importance, team-wise.”

Heading into the final month of the regular season, everything was going right for 5-foot-9, 160-pound Yohman.

He clocked a season-low 11.01 in the 100 meters and followed with personal-record time of 22.06 in the 200 prelims at the Amherst Division I District.

Yohman went on to win the district crown in the 200, take second in the 100 and help the 4×100 and 4×4 relays to regional berths, making him the lone local athlete to qualify for regionals in four events.

In all, the 17-year-old helped post 36 of the Blue Devils’ 68 points, which was good for third in the team standings at districts.

“Every weekend, I tried to win every race and lead the team and set the bar,” Yohman said. “I was getting faster (late in the season) and getting excited, but then at regionals, my hamstring made it so I couldn’t run anymore.”

Just as things were going well, it was all over 25 meters into his 100 prelim at the Amherst Regional, making it impossible for him to run in the three other qualifying races that night.

“I was excited to run at regionals against the guys from St. Ed’s and JFK and I wanted to see my times drop,” Yohman said. “But then one little tweak.”

The injury ended a bid for a third straight state meet appearance. Yohman made the trip to Columbus as a junior in the 100 and 200 and as a sophomore on the 4×4 relay, which set a school record.

While the season was cut a little short, Yohman’s senior year was filled with accomplishments. Nearly every weekend, he was placing in the top three at invitationals.

Whether it was the 100, 200, any sprint relay or even the long jump, he was among the state’s best.

“He’s one heck of an athlete,” Merrill said. “He was definitely a key component to our relays and set the tone on the track and to what was expected with his leadership.”

Yohman was runner-up at the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division Meet in the 100, 200 and as the anchor for the 4×1 relay. Crenshaw, who won a state title in the 100 last year and was second this year, was his nemesis.

“It was definitely tough with a guy like Khoury running in all the races I did,” Yohman said. “But it’s good to go against guys like that. I got to know a lot of them.”

Yohman rejoined the 4×4 as a senior after not running the event a year ago. He knew with teammates Alex Hartill, Austin Fallon and Tyler Laffin, the Blue Devils had the makings of something special.

His instincts were right, as the foursome posted the best time in the county this spring. Even with Yohman injured, the group advanced to the state meet with Brandon Emert filling in.

“After his sophomore year, we knew what he was capable of in the 400,” Merrill said. “He came up to me and said he wanted to run in the 4×4. (After the injury), he was still there cheering them on.”

Unlike many sprinters, Yohman grew to love running 400 meters.

“No one wants to run the 4×4, but I think it’s the best race,” he said. “We had something there.”

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.