BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
It was fitting that Oak Harbor’s 10th consecutive Sandusky Bay Conference would come in such dominant fashion.
For the last decade, the girls track team has dominated the competition in the Bay Division, and this was one of the Rockets’ most impressive performances. Oak Harbor won with 197 points, well ahead of Huron with 122 points. Edison was third (103), followed by Margaretta (81), Willard (65), Vermilion (49) and Port Clinton (41).
“We started a couple years ago thinking that 10 in a row might be possible with the kids we had coming up. We just graduated about a dozen girls two years ago, and if we could just get by last year, I thought that maybe we’d have a chance at 10 (in a row),” said Oak Harbor coach John McKitrick.
“Last year’s kids did a very good job of winning the title. We have a good set of juniors and seniors, but the bulk of our kids are freshman and sophomores. They know they’re walking into something that’s been building. No one wants to drop the ball.
“Our seniors don’t want to be the class that doesn’t win the SBC,” said McKitrick. “I think this is our seventh senior class that doesn’t know what it’s like to lose an SBC championship. This year, we scored 75 points or so in the field events. Each year, you do it a little bit differently.
“It’s nice to look back at all the kids who have been doing this. Winning 10 was nice, but having the boys on top was nice as well. This was only the second time in our program history that both the boys and girls teams won the league.”
Oak Harbor had five individuals finish in first place, and two relays were victorious, too. Abby Below won the 400 meters in 1:01.55 and was part of two relay teams that did well. The 4×400 quartet of Below, Emily Haar, Logan Wagner and Elayna Krupp finished first in 4:11.50 and the 4×200 relay team of Below, Haar, Alaina Hetrick and Hannah Schulte finished second in 1:51.14. Emily Wolf won the discus (126 feet, 11 inches) and was second in the shot put (37-03.75), followed by teammate Deseree Behlmer (35-07.00).
Peyton Bloomer won the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches, finishing just ahead of teammate Emma Zibbel. Madison McKitrick (16-02.50) won the long jump, followed by teammate (15-01.25). Krupp won the 200 in 27.15, finishing just ahead of Haar. Krupp was also second in the 100 in 12.97. The 4×100 relay team of Krupp, Schulte, Sophia Eli and Paige Clune was also victorious, taking first place in 50.67.
Hope Sievert had a good showing, finishing second in the 800 (2:25.79) and third in the 1600 (5:37.01). She was also part of the 4×800 relay team that also included Wagner, Anna Zeitzheim and Emma Baumgartner and came in second in 10:20.87.
Amelia Mizelle finished third in the 100 hurdles (16.37). For Port Clinton, the high finishers were Alexis Spears, who came in third in the 400 (1:03.47), and the 4×400 relay team of Spears, Asta Strader, Bryanna Barr and Rebekah Nelhs.
On the boys’ side, the Rockets edged Edison, 170.5 to 167, winning with a first in the last event, the 4×400 relay. In that race, Oak Harbor finished in 3:28.65 (Nick Pfeiffer, Tyler May, Brandon Elmes and Wyatt Miller), and the Chargers were third (3:32.83).
The Rockets had four individual winners and three relays that won. Aidan Barton won the 100 (11.48), the 200 (23.33) and was part of the 4×200 relay (1:32.44) that also included Nick Pfeiffer, Ajay Riechman and Tyler May. Brandon Elmes was second in both the 110 hurdles (15.18) and the 300 hurdles (39.39) and was part of the 4×400 relay (3:28.65) that also consisted of Pfeiffer, May and Wyatt Miller.
Pfeiffer won the 400 (51.80), Cole Roob took first in the shot put (52-00.00), May was second in the long jump (20-03.75) and Marcus Hartlage was third in both the 800 (2:02.86) and the 1600 (4:35.49). Riechman finished third in the 200 (23.51) and Cole Heffernan was third in the shot put (46.10.75).
Oak Harbor last won the SBC in 2015, and the program has come a long way in the last five years.
“Obviously, to win a (league) championship, there has to be depth on the team. One of the things we struggled with (in the past) was getting our numbers up,” said Oak Harbor coach Andy Augsburger.
“It took a while for us to get to that point where we could have two athletes in every single event that could score high and compete at a high level. It’s been a process. Marcus Hartlage took until his junior and senior year to do well, Ajay Reichman until his junior and senior year to do well. Brandon Elmes, that’s a story in itself. As a freshman, he was a runner who was good, but now to see where he is competing at a high level is impressive.
“One of our freshman, Isiah Miller, we brought him into the hurdle events, and Brandon helped him out. Ajay and Aidan (Barton) have helped out some of the younger runners. If you have that environment, it’s going to get kids excited. When the older kids are trying to get the younger kids excited about the sport, that is important. That 2011 team was sort of a breakthrough, and last year was hurtful for us in not winning the conference, but it was something we learned a lot from. It was hard for the seniors of 2018 to not win an SBC championship. We knew what we had to do to get better.”
In the River Division, the Danbury girls finished seventh with 40.5 points. The best finishes came from Shana Marie Richard, who was second in the 100 hurdles in 17.62, followed by teammate Grace Clouse (18.08). Sydnee Perram finished second in the high jump with a leap of 4-10.00.
The Danbury boys came in seventh, too, finishing with 54 points. Individually, the Lakers had three third-place finishes: Nate Frattaroli in the 110 hurdles (18.18); Tyler Murray in the 300 hurdles (45.16); and Kory Berhent (2:07.81). The 4×800 relay team of Berhent, Tyler Murray, Bradley Murray and Ryan Gwin finished second in 8:41.30.