By TED RADICK
Just like last year, Columbus Grove figures to be the heavy favorite to defend its boys and girls titles at Friday’s Putnam County League track and field championships.
Just like last year, though, there’s a live underdog looking to steal the Bulldogs’ thunder in the girls portion of the meet.
Grove senior Julia Wynn knows not to take anything for granted. Pandora-Gilboa, just as Fort Jennings did last year, comes into the meet looking strong.
“When we go to the PCL and the (Northwest Conference) meets every year, our approach is to look at every event and try to place as high as we can,” she said. “Everybody has to work their hardest. We focus on one meet at a time.”
The meet begins with the field events at 4:15 p.m. The 3,200-meter relay finals are at 5:30, followed by sprint preliminaries at 6. Running event finals begin at 7.
The feature race looks to be the girls 300-meter low hurdles. Continental’s Paige Ordway, a state medalist in the event last year, returns to defend her championship against Columbus Grove’s Sydney McCluer, who medaled in the 100 intermediates last June in Columbus, and Ottoville’s Taylor Mangas, who smoked McCluer by more than a second in the event earlier this spring at the Columbus Grove Invitational.
The trio has the top three times in The Courier track and field honor roll this spring; Mangas enters at 46.80, McCluer at 48.19 and Ordway at 48.40.
Pandora-Gilboa, meanwhile, brings in a nice mix. The Rockets’ Breana Hovest is the defending champ in the 1,600 and 3,200 and will be a top contender in the 800. Mackenzie Swary will battle Grove’s legion of throwers, and the Rockets have a solid sprinting corps as well.
Wynn said she and all the area’s athletes are looking to sharpen their performances as the meat of the season begins.
“Both Sydney and I, we’ve been comparing our times from last year because we were both feeling that we’re not where we want to be right now,” she said. “But, when we look back to last year we’re both right where we should be.
“It’s not bad, when we look back to last year and what we accomplished in the end.”
Other athletes looking to defend their titles from last season include McCluer in the 100 hurdles, Ordway in the long jump, Leipsic’s Holly Averesch in the shot put and Grove’s Megan Verhoff in the discus.
On the boys side, Leipsic’s Jordan Chamberlin is back to defend his titles in the 100 and 200, and the Vikings’ Oscar Lopez-Gonzalez won the 800 last year. Grove’s Colton Grothaus won the 1,600 last year.
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