MACEDONIA — It didn’t matter what the conditions were Saturday at the Boliantz Stadium.
Sarah Berger was on a mission.
The unseasonably cold weather that also had rain, hail and just about anything else didn’t slow down the reigning Gazette MVP or her Wadsworth teammates as the Grizzlies won the Suburban League Meet and shared the overall title for the second straight season.
“I love days like today. These are my kind of days,” said Berger, who had a hand in three event wins Saturday and four for the two-day meet. “I’m not a really a fan of the heat, so a day like today turning around was a lot easier for me.”
Just days after helping the Grizzlies’ 4×800-meter relay win, Berger pulled off the difficult double-win by finishing ahead of the pack in the 1,600 and 800 and then running on the 4×4 unit that placed first.
Those wins combined with a handful of other top performances helped Wadsworth compile 129 points to beat Nordonia (115). Highland used its strength in the sprints to finish third with 103 points, while Cloverleaf placed fifth (66).
While it wasn’t picture perfect, veteran coach John Burton could do nothing but smile afterward.
“As I told the kids before the 4×4, we’ve had some ups and downs like any other track meet and that happens, but they all were consistent in terms of performance,” he said. “We just came out and did what we can do.”
Berger defended her SL title in the 1,600 with a time of 5:08.30 to beat Cloverleaf’s Ashley Murray (5:10.30) and Highland’s Carlee Rhoads (5:15.03). Berger followed with an impressive 2:21.24 to pick up the win in the 800. Teammate Madi Salem was second to Berger in the final, clocking a personal-low 2:23.10.
“It feels really good because last year the turnaround for me was horrible,” said Berger, referring to her
10th-place finish in last year’s 800. “I’m in a lot better shape this year than I was last year to be able to make that turnaround so quick.”
Berger teamed with Courtney Palange, Madison Gilger and Leah Runkle on the winning 4×4 that ran a season-low 4:03.26.
The Grizzlies also picked up big points from Leah Runkle, as the senior defended her crown in the long jump — she matched her season best of 17 feet, 1½ inches — and took second in the 400 (57.84) and 200 (26.75).
“I was pretty happy (with the long jump,” she said. “It was wet and cold, so I was happy with my jump, but I’m hoping to go mid-17s next week.”
Emily Perebzak picked up third-place finishes in the 100 hurdles (16.36) and 300 hurdles (47.79), while Wadsworth’s 4×2 was second.
Highland dominated the sprints in impressive fashion, with junior Sarah Carpenter winning the 100 (12.45) and 200 (25.86) and anchoring the 4×1 and 4×2 to victories with Sam Duale, Colleen Hoynes and Emma Grantier.
The 4×2 win bettered on the group’s school record set last week, as Grantier secured the lead in an impressive third leg and Carpenter sealed the victory in 1:46.09.
“I love the relays,” Carpenter said. “The relays are more fun for me, but I like the opens, too.”
Duale was third in both individual races, recording a 12.65 in the 100 and a 26.76 in the 200, but she loves what the relays have accomplished this year.
“It’s really fun. We work hard together and end up pushing each other,” she said. “That helps us in the big meets.”
After taking third in the 1,600, sophomore Carlee Rhoads bounced back with an impressive win in the 3,200 in 11:02.72 to beat defending champ Murray (11:23.62) and get close to her personal record of 11:00.
“I was kind of surprised throughout the race that I was in front because in the mile I felt like I was trying pretty hard and these girls were passing me,” Rhoads said. “I wear my watch all the time and I saw on it that I could get under my PR, so I started going faster to see if I could get it.”
Cloverleaf’s 4×4 of Hannah Swain, Kaylee Gutschow, Riley Freeland and Erian Hamilton was second in the 4×4, posting a season-low 4:09.02. The group won all seven races during the dual-meet season.
“It felt really good,” Swain said. “We’re really strong as a team and we’re really close. We’ve grown together, so it was nice to get a PR.”
On the boys side, Wadsworth fell short in the team race to defending champ Nordonia (182 points) with 169 points. Highland (31) and Cloverleaf (23) were sixth and seventh, respectively.
It was an up-and-down day for the Grizzlies, as Ryan Looser won the 110 hurdles (14.90) but felt short 300 hurdle final and Hunter Williams placed third in the 100 (11.20) — he won the event a year ago — and bounced back to clocked 22.73 to take the 200.
Senior Nick Winkler was runner-up in the 1,600, as the reigning SL medalist got passed by Nordonia’s Zack Thaxton in the final 50 meters to finish in 4:29.53.
“Coming in, I mapped out some placed that I thought we would get that we didn’t get today,” Wadsworth coach D.J. Schrock said. “When that weather turned at the start of the 100, Hunter was standing around a little bit, and I think that might have affected him. But guys have to step up and Nordonia stepped up. Our guys ran hard and ran well, but it just wasn’t enough today.”
The Grizzlies picked up a big win in the 3,200, as Jon Bach bettered his PR by more than seven seconds to win in 9:46.97, avenging a loss to runner-up Charlie Korodi earlier this month with a kick at the 400 mark.
“I raced (Korodi) at the Jackson Twilight meet and he had a burst right around the first mile or right before the second mile, so I just used that,” said Bach, whose previous low was 9:54.52. “I just tried to stay with him whenever he got the burst because that’s where he got me last time. On the second to last lap, I just tried to keep going … I didn’t know how close he was.”
Nate Bergan also was a winner for Wadsworth, beating defending champ Tom Wangler of Cloverleaf in the shot put with a toss of 49-8½. Matt Beidler was second in the 800 (2:00.50) and Benn Baier was runner-up in the high jump (6-0) along with the 4×1 relay.
Colts coach Bob Lake noted the Wangler loss could be big motivation for next week’s district meet, which will be right back at Nordonia for both Cloverleaf and the Grizzlies.
“He competed hard and did as well as he could, but we’re satisfied,” Lake said. “We’re going to keep working for next week and we still have a lot to look forward to.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.