Matt Florjancic, Special to The Plain Dealer, May 03, 2013 9:55 p.m.
BEREA, Ohio — The George Finnie Stadium at Baldwin Wallace is home to the Yellow Jackets, but after Friday’s meet, the “Home of the Yellow Jackets” belonged to the Battling Bees.
Medina won the boys, girls and overall championships at the 2013 Berea-Kiwanis Relays, something the boys team has done now eight times in the past nine years.
“It feels twice as good as the rest of them combined because it was a rebuilding year,” said Medina boys coach Bob Jenkins. “We weren’t expected to do really well. We might have a third of our team that’s never run track before. We have conversions from football and a couple other people out from other sports.”
The girls’ championship came down to the end of the meet with three schools, Medina, Brunswick and Amherst Steele, still in contention and finishing within 10 points of first place. Medina won the championship with 139 points, while Brunswick was second with 138.
“How about that? How can you describe that?” said Scott Van Fleet, girls coach at Medina. “We thought Amherst won, and then, I figured it would be close between Brunswick and us. I looked at the sheet, and it was by one point. That’s really exciting.
“It’s great to win. It’s a great feeling. We love this meet, and it’s just a great atmosphere. It makes it all that much better when you win.”
Jenkins’ boys team won three field events, the high jump, discus and shot put. Mike Hierholzer led the way with two of those victories, including a 173-foot, six-inch toss in the discus, and 49-foot, three-and-a-quarter inch effort in the shot put.
“In this particular year, we’re strong in the jumps, the shot and the discus,” Jenkins said. “The pole vault’s excellent; the high jump we won today. A lot of times, we’ll pile up 40 or 50 points before the first running event, and that’s just great. It sets the table for what we want to do. Field events are crucial for us.”
After a slow start, the girls’ distance medley belonged to the Amherst Steele Comets. Following the 800-meter portion of the relay, Medina was out front, but Amherst’s Sher Champe closed the gap and put the Comets in the lead before she handed the baton to Alexis Szivan. Szivan ran the 1,200-meter portion, while Cassie Vince paced the Comets in the mile for the win.
Amherst Steele won the race by more than 31 seconds over Medina.
Following the distance medley, Amherst Steele earned the victory in the sprint medley. Amherst Steele won the second heat in 1:49.63, and then took its third relay when the team of Erin Kasper, Amber Slavik, Gaby Northeim and Sara Moore ran the 4×100-meter shuttle hurdles in 1:06.56.
“They were all back-to-back, and they were all school records,” said Amherst Steele coach Rob Glatz. “It was a very exciting time in the meet. We knew coming into the meet that this was a very fast track. This mondo surface is very fast, so we were excited to come out here and give our best effort, and our girls certainly did.
“This is a unique meet because it’s truly a relay meet. The only open event is the 3,200, so we knew it was going to take a team effort to do well in this meet, and our girls definitely did that. They brought the team effort, cheered everybody on. It was very exciting.”
In the boys’ 3,200-meter run, Midpark’s Lou Styles bested the field and finished nearly nine seconds ahead of Berea’s Daniel Zupan, the second-place finisher, and Medina’s Dylan Dombi, who placed third. Entering the race, Styles had the best seed time at 9:32.00, three seconds ahead of Brunswick’s Tyler Menear and 13 seconds better than Zupan.
Zupan finished second in the 3,200-meter run despite competing in the meet’s previous event, the boys’ 4×1,600-meter relay. He ran the first leg for the Braves, who finished second in the race, less than six seconds behind the winners from Brunswick.
“I ran a decent time,” Styles said. “I was OK with it because there was no one there besides Dan. Seeing as how Dan ran the 4×1,600, the two-mile, it was not a given, but there was not many people at the talent of Dan to race me. I definitely had an advantage because I was fresh. He had just come off of a race.”
Midpark’s Aaron Owens, who did a rare double field-event day by also taking part in the high jump, won the pole vault and paced the Meteors to a first-place finish in the event when he cleared 16-feet, three-inches and broke the meet record by 15 inches, a mark that had stood since the 2001 Relays.
Matt Florjancic is a freelance writer from Broadview Heights