OBERLIN — As quickly as the Buckeye boys track team thought it had clinched its eighth Patriot Athletic Conference title in nine years Thursday, it was gone.
The Bucks celebrated what was a half-point win over rival Firelands, only to find out on the bus ride back to York Township that the Falcons were champions for the second year in a row after a computer error caused the team scores to be added incorrectly.
“It’s tough for me to handle, so I can only imagine how my kids feel, especially my seniors,” Bucks coach Brit Musal said. “I’m upset. You work that hard to be champs for 25 minutes and then, because of the error of someone else, it’s gone.”
The times in the 800-meter run were accurate, but the order of finish led to a recount by officials well after fans had left Oberlin College’s Bob Kahn Track. The correction gave Firelands a 129-117½ victory.
“No one knew who was winning the whole night, except for with two events to go they announced that we were down,” Falcons coach Greg Northeim said. “It was kind of confusing, but Derek Reynolds’ dad and I were looking at the results and we could tell that it wasn’t right.
“I guess it was meant to be, but I feel bad for Buckeye because they ran well.”
The name in the middle of the snafu was Reynolds, whose career-best time of 1:59.30 was credited to another runner, with a jumbled list of incorrect finishers following.
“I’m sick to my stomach about this,” Musal said. “But it is what it is and there’s no use crying over spilled milk. We just need to refocus and get ready for districts.”
Buckeye was celebrating what was believed to be a 116½-116 win after Colin Theis picked up his second victory — this one in the 3,200— and the 4×400 relay placed third. Theis finished in 10:02.33 on the heels of a 1,600 run in which the sophomore embraced the quick pace to clock 4:32.30.
“The pace was way faster (in the 1,600), but that drained me totally for the two-mile,” Theis said. “I had to adjust a little, but I didn’t have a problem with it.”
The Bucks’ other win came from Michael Keith, as the senior defended his title in the 300 hurdles, winning in 42.20 over Firelands’ Cole Lewis (43.40). Keith was second to Lewis in the 110 hurdles after a run of 17.01.
For Keith, who battled mononucleosis at the beginning of the season, the win was as sweet as it gets.
“After mono, I had been running 46s up to this point, so this is really just a big confidence-booster,” he said. “I’m more than proud. It’s senior year, so it’s all or nothing, and if I would’ve taken anything less than first, then I would’ve been outraged.”
Lee Mandanici was third in the 400 (51.50) and helped the Bucks 4×4, which also included Aidan Gallagher, Sean Spence and Chance Ziegler, to third in 3:37.60.
Black River’s Tanner Hawley was runner-up to Theis in the 3,200 (10:07.93) and placed third in the 1,600 (4:40.30), while John Ternes toss the shot put 40 feet, ½ inch to finish third. Sophomore David Bell ran the 200 in 23.70 to take third in Lane 8 after posting the sixth-fastest time Tuesday in the prelims.
“Nobody really enjoys Lane 8, but I did as much as I could and came out third,” Bell said. “As I was coming down the stretch, I kept hearing Clearview (Patrick O’Connor) and I pushed as hard I could to get ahead of him.”
Keystone’s girls won the conference for the eighth straight year, while Buckeye was third and Black River was sixth.
The Bucks’ day was highlighted by a win from the 4×4, as Brianna Vaiksnoras, Courtney Styfurak, Kelsey Verhoff and Olivia Hartley finished in a season-low 4:18.10.
“I was like, ‘This is it. We need it, go hard or go home,’” Hartley said.
A quick start from Styfurak, who also placed fourth in the 400, helped set the tone as the foursome beat its previous best of 4:22.30.
“I was happy with how I came out of the blocks, so I just wanted to continue with the good start,” Hartley said. “Being able to get ahead like that definitely helped, knowing that we had three great girls to help finish it off.”
Buckeye also picked up a win from Allison Wilk in the pole vault, while the 4×2 was third as Vaiksnoras, Emily Weyls, Styfurak and Verhoff ran a 1:53.10.
Makayla Koerner was third in the long jump (15-11¼) and 100 (13.0) and anchored the 4×1 of Romi Smith, Emily Cartwright and Autumn Lampshire that was third in 52.80.
“I had a rough start at the beginning of long jump,” said Koerner, a regional qualifier last season in the event. “I did OK in the prelims, but my first jump was three feet in front of the board off the wrong foot. I got it together at the end.”
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