WHS Lands Six All-League Spots At NOL Track Championships

By Dan Woodlock
Times-Junction Sports Editor

Saturday's Northern Ohio League track and field meet was about records, resiliency and even redemption for Willard.

The Flashes and Lady Flashes took on an NOL field that was as competitive as ever, particularly on the girls' side, with five of seven teams scoring into triple-digits, as WHS managed to wrestle away six All-NOL berths at the Bellevue Athletic Field.

Overall, Willard's boys took sixth place with 50 points, topping Columbian's 44. The Lady Flashes finished in seventh place, seven points shy of Norwalk (47), with 40 points.

Bellevue led a crowded girls field with 153 points for the team championship. A four-way log-jam between second and fifth included Ontario and Shelby (tied for second with 104 points each) and Sandusky and Columbian (tied for fourth with 102 points apiece).

Sandusky's boys cruised to an NOL championship with a meet-high 160 points. Ontario (123) and Norwalk (110) were second and third, followed by Shelby (96), Bellevue (71), Willard and Columbian.

"This is a meet where you have to have your best day," said Willard Head Coach John Buss. "Sometimes, even with your best day, it might not be enough, when you consider we're throwing a couple of Division I schools in Norwalk and Sandusky into the mix."

Brittany Fry broke her own WHS school record in the mile, running a 5:26.3, which placed her third and earned her Honorable Mention NOL status for her effort. She trailed only Bellevue's Lauren Turner (5:20) and Michaela Fox (5:23).

Fry established her previous 1600 record last season at the Huron Invitational, where she ran a 5:26.64. She also missed earning All-NOL in the 300 Hurdles by one spot, finishing fourth at 50 seconds flat.

Maddie Branham earned a pair of All-NOL positions in the throwing events. She crushed her previous-best distance of just over 99'0" in the Discus with a throw of 110'7", which nearly caught champion Maddie Fidler (111'0") of Shelby.

Branham also produced her best throw in the Shot Put, covering 32'7" and finishing third, giving her a Second Team and an Honorable Mention showing for the day. Bellevue's Laiken Tester won the Shot at 33'11" by her second-best throw tie-breaker over Fidler (33'11").

"Maddie threw extremely well," said Buss. "She beat her previous best throw in the Disc and was right there. She was only a foot away from first in the Shot. She came in as a kid that could have finished anywhere between third and seventh in the Shot--it was that close. But she stepped up and put together her best meet at the right time."

Buss noted that freshman speedster Felicia Rosvanis competed at less than 100 percent physically and still finished fourth in the 100 (13.52), sixth in the 400 (1:03.01) and did not run in the 200 Finals, after qualifying with the fifth best time in prelims.

Senior Hannah Adams was unable to compete on the day for the Willard girls, due to a back ailment, which took a toll the Lady Flashes' finish in the team standings.

"Missing Hannah was big for our girls, especially with us being shorter on numbers for them already," said Buss. "I feel bad for her having to miss her last NOL meet. She's one of our best leaders and has a great attitude. We hope we have her back for Districts this week."

Tyler Gahring made a strong push down the final 100 Meters to slip past Ontario's Treyvian Jordan for third place and Honorable Mention in the boys 800 Meter Run at 51.65 seconds. He also ran a leg on the Flashes' Second Team NOL 1600 Relay, joining Keaton Moore, Gebin Hunter and Cory Barnett, who finished only behind Sandusky (3:29.52), with a 3:35.96.

The placement was redemption for Moore and Barnett, who each ran on the Flashes' 3200 Relay team that took second, but was disqualified for an infraction at the end of the race.

Brady Deaner put together a full day, including a Second Team performance in the 800 (2:04.01). He took fifth in the mile (4:39.8), seventh in the two-mile (10:32) and also ran on the 3200 Relay, helping the Flashes build a sizeable lead early.

"Brady had a great day," said Buss. "He took on a lot today, running a great time in our four-by-eight, and then comes within five seconds of our school record in the mile and still finishes fifth. It was good seeing him get All-League in the 800 and he added in the two-mile on top of everything."

Other top-six efforts on the day for Willard included the following:

(Girls) High Jump--6th: Brooke Vipperman (4'6"); (Boys) 800--6th: Barnett (2:11.6); 400 Relay--5th: Jordan Sivongsak, Hunter, Spencer Parrott, Fernando Perez (46.69); 800 Relay--5th: Gahring, Hunter, Jaret Polachek, Perez (1:36.88); High Jump--6th: Sivongsak (5'6"); Long Jump--6th: Sivongsak (19'9.5")

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