FAYETTE TRACK—What a day for a two-mile run.
With temperatures in the 90s, most distance runners weren’t up to their best at the Ohio track and field finals Saturday in Columbus.
That was the case for Fayette’s qualifier, Darrell Randall, although he still turned in one of his top times of the season.
Randall, a senior, placed twelfth in the Div. III 3200-meter run with a time of 10.09.7. Randall was one second behind the eleventh-place runner and about 10 seconds away from a top-10 finish.
Only three of the 16 runners managed to improve on their regional meet qualifying time. The others all suffered in the hot weather.
This year’s winner, Colin Cotton of Cincinnati Summit, finished the race at 9:27 and one other runner finished at 9:29. Colin Fisher of Delta was the only other northwest Ohio runner. He took fifth place at 9:41.
Although Randall qualified for state competition in cross country three years in a row, this was the first time he made the cut for the state finals in track.
Actually, the day wasn’t bad until near the end of the meet, Randall said. The temperature was in the mid-80s going into the girls 3200-meter run, but there was a delay of about 45 minutes due to lightning and then the temperature shot up into the humid 90° range.
“I ran right on pace for the time I wanted through the first mile,” Randall said, “but the mixture of heat and fast pace took its toll in the second mile and I fell way off.”
Randall said if he’d been able to keep his pace from a week earlier, he would have been on the podium for a medal, but weather slowed most everybody down.
MORENCI TRACK: Seven athletes, 11 events and five all-state medals.
That was Morenci’s tally at Michigan’s Div. IV track and field finals Saturday at Jenison High School.
Qualifiers sweated it out in 90° weather and unrelenting sun to determine the champions among the state’s smaller school districts.
“Some of the kids had hoped to do better,” said Morenci coach Brad Brown, “but to bring home five all-state medals is quite an accomplishment.”
Although two Bulldogs were among the state’s best from the start, others had to earn their way into the finals.
Junior Max Gautz, for example, came into the competition tied for tenth in the 110-meter hurdles, but he advanced through the preliminaries and semifinals to make the championship race and earn an eighth-place finish at :16.64. The winner crossed the line at :15.02.
“That was a pretty big accomplishment for Max,” Brown said.
Brown told Gautz and Shannon Jarrell they would likely need to get into the right semifinal to move into the championship race and it happened for each of them.
Jarrell, a freshman, was ranked twelfth in the state for the 200-meter dash, but finished in fifth place at :27.09—close to her best run of the season. The winner finished at :26.06.
“Shannon looked really good,” Brown said. “She gets stronger as the race goes on.”
He thinks she could find even more success next year by running the 400-meter dash.
Morenci senior Phoenix Duncan brought home two medals. She placed third in the high jump at 5-3—with 5-5 winning the event this year—and she claimed a sixth-place finish in the long jump at 16-6.25. Four jumpers cleared 17 feet, with the winner leaping 17-6.25.
This marked the second year in a row that Duncan won two medals, after picking up a third-place finish in the high jump as a sophomore.
Morenci sophomore Brooke Bovee took fifth place in the 100-meter hurdles at :16.16. This year’s champion covered the course in :15.72.
By the time she competed in the 300-meter hurdles, she had run three hurdle races and ran a leg of a relay.
“The heat definitely affected us,” Coach Brown said. “We never had a meet this season with heat like that. I sweated the whole day just watching. I can’t imagine what it was like to have a uniform sticking to you all day.”
Bovee was a member of the Bulldogs’ two qualifying relay teams. She ran with sophomore Erin Vanderpool, Duncan and Jarrell in the 400-meter relay and joined Duncan, junior Kortney Cousino and Jarrell in the 1600-meter relay to cap a busy day.
Jarrell just missed making the finals in the 100-meter dash, but that might have been a blessing, Brown said, by giving her a little more energy for the 200-meter race.
Morenci’s final competitor, senior Garrett Mohr, qualified for the finals in the discus, but was called for an infraction in his final and best toss.
Gautz failed to make the finals in the long jump, but was only five inches off his best of the season with a leap of 19-9.
WALDRON—Fletcher Masters earned the only points for the Spartans this year, placing third in the 400-meter dash at :51.04, behind the winner at :49.89.
MORENCI SOFTBALL: By DAVID GREEN
It took some come-from-behind heroics to make it into the district finals Saturday for Morenci’s softball team, but once the Bulldogs were there, it was a smooth run to the tournament title.
Lenawee Christian School gave Morenci a challenge, but the Bulldogs came through with a run in the bottom of the seventh to win, 3-2. Against Whiteford in the finals, Morenci easily bested the team that beat them two weeks ago. The Bulldogs started big and won 9-1.
This was the first time Morenci saw much of the LCS pitcher this season, coach Kay Johnson said. She’s been recovering from an injury and threw only about a dozen pitches when the team met for a double-header recently.
She struck out five Bulldogs Saturday and gave up eight hits, including two by Matea Garcia.
Shaden Olmstead put Morenci on the scoreboard in the first inning when she ran for Taylor Bryant and came home on a two-out single by Ashley Smith.
The Cougars scored two runs in the top of the fifth, aided by two Morenci errors and a wild pitch.
With two outs in the sixth, Meghan Smith doubled and moved to third on a base hit by Tia Tompkins. Hannah Jeffers singled to tie the game.
Chelsea Tompkins used her speed in the bottom of the seventh inning to stretch a likely single into a double. Tess Ramsey drew an intentional walk, followed by a pop out from Garcia for the Bulldogs’ second out. Meghan Smith hit an infield pop-up that was misplayed and Tompkins raced home to score and end the game.
Tia Tompkins was tough on the mound, allowing just two hits and walking none. She struck out four.
Morenci left six runners stranded during the game, including two in the first and two in the sixth.
Coach Johnson thinks her squad carried some momentum from the “walk off” win over the Cougars into the finals against Whiteford. After an inning, Morenci was on top 5-0.
Chelsea Tompkins had a bunt single and Ramsey was safe on a sacrifice bunt. Garcia was safe on a bunt and Tia Tompkins hit a long sacrifice fly to centerfield to score her cousin.
Jeffers was safe on a fielder’s choice and Bryant was hit by a pitch to force in Ramsey. Another runner came home on a walk to Michaela Merillat before Smith belted a two-run single.
Whiteford scored its only run in the second inning,and Morenci added another in the fourth with singles by Chelsea Tompkins and Garcia.
In the sixth inning, three more runs came home on base hits by Jeffers, Bryant, Smith and Chelsea Tompkins.
On the mound, Tia Tompkins gave up just two hits and two walks and she struck out five.
“For as hot as it was on Saturday, Tia pitched two great games,” Coach Johnson said. “She slowed her pace and stayed within herself.”
The win was the reverse of the last time the two teams played. In that outing, the Bobcats scored six first-inning runs on three hits, three walks, an error and a hit batter.
This time is was Whiteford’s turn to make mistakes.
“Chelsea’s [first-inning] bunt was a clean single,” Johnson said, “then they misplayed the next two bunts, played on the wrong runner, hit a batter and walked a run in.”
Their pitcher also had some control problems that showed in the tournament opener against Waldron.
The Bulldogs (17-16) will try to keep their tournament run going when they face Homer (20-9) after the 10 a.m. game between Summerfield and Camden. The regional tournament will be played in Concord.