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Prep track: Bluffton’s Little is four-time winner

By ANDREW WILLIAMS
STAFF WRITER

Isaac Little needed a few minutes to catch his breath and compose himself.

The Bluffton senior had just won the 200-meter dash in a loaded field of area standouts, posting a time of 22.87 seconds to edge teammate Noah Stratton by thousandths of a second, for his fourth victory of the afternoon at Saturday’s Division III district meet at Liberty-Benton.

“It’s definitely a good feeling,” Little said of winning the 200. “Me and Noah were talking this morning that this (200) was going to be stacked today. This was going to be the race to watch. It was good with all that competition to come out on top.”

Tough competition was in abundance Saturday as Liberty-Benton held off Bluffton 109-101 to capture the team championship, while Columbus Grove finished third with 87 points. The top four individuals in each event advanced to the regional meet, which begins Wednesday at Tiffin’s Frost-Kalnow Stadium.

The 200, which was the marquee event of the day, lived up to its billing.

Anticipation and nerves may have been running high at the start, as Cory-Rawson freshman Mason Warnimont got out of the blocks a little too soon and was disqualified for a false start.

The second start was clean, though, and the runners were all fairly even through the first 100 meters. Stratton, who won the 400 (49.89) and anchored the winning 800 and 1,600 relay teams Saturday, was a few steps ahead of the field with 50 meters to go.

That’s when Little kicked it into gear, using the long strides that accompany his 6-foot-3 frame, and ran down Stratton for a photo finish that had to be measured down to thousandths of a second.

“I knew I was going to have to push myself 150 percent just because it was going to be so fast,” Little said. “And after seeing Noah just a few steps ahead of me I knew I had to really push it and drive to get to first place.

“If I would have been ahead of him by a little bit, he probably would have been catching me. Since I was able to see where he was and have a target to race after, that helps a whole lot.”

Upper Scioto Valley freshman Austin Sloan was third in 23.25 seconds and Ada’s Matthew Wilcox took fourth with a 23.32 to advance to regionals. Columbus Grove’s Baily Clement finished fifth (23.41) and Liberty-Benton’s Chase Cook, who placed fourth in the 200 at last year’s state meet, competed simply for team points and was seventh (29.74) after being slowed by a nagging hamstring injury which has hampered him for much of the season.

Cook also failed to qualify for regionals in the 100 after finishing sixth in the event at the state meet last year.

Little won the 100 in 11.29 seconds and was a member of the top 400 relay (44.10) and 800 relay (1:29.55) teams to capture titles in all four of his events and repeat his performance from last week’s Northwest Conference meet.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “I knew that after coming from four (titles) last week, that was my goal this week to try to get four. After the 100 and the two relays, I told Noah, ‘I’m coming for you. It’s going to come down to me and you.’ So it’s a good feeling. I’ve definitely worked hard for it.”

Leipsic’s Terrill Murriel posted a time of 15.60 to win the 110 hurdles and followed that up with a 41.18 to earn a title in the 300 hurdles as well.

A week after grabbing the 110 hurdles championship at the Blanchard Valley Conference meet but finishing second in the 300 hurdles, Murriel said he put together quality races to win both events Saturday.

“It feels amazing. It’s a feeling you can’t really explain until you’ve experienced it,” Murriel said of winning a pair of district titles. “It honestly does take a lot of hard work. District champ in 110 and 300 (hurdles), it feels amazing. I’m blessed to be where I am right now.”

While he didn’t record any victories at the district meet, Matthew Wilcox added third-place showings in the 100 (11.48) and 400 (50.93) to his fourth in the 200 to qualify for all three events at regionals.

A returning state-qualifier in the 400, Wilcox said the strength of the Liberty-Benton district will prove beneficial as competitors continue on the road to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus in two weeks.

“I’m real pleased with what I did today,” Wilcox said. “I advanced in the 100, 200 and 400 and that was the goal.

“There was a lot of competition today. I’m going to be seeing the same guys at regionals so it’s good to be exposed to them early in these rounds so I know what to expect next week and possibly the week after that.”

Columbus Grove’s Colton Grothaus captured the 1,600 title in 4:40.05 and teammate Lee Altenburger won the 3,200 with a time of 10:18.60. Grothaus also advanced in the 3,200 with a fourth-place finish and Altenburger took fourth in the 1,600 to advance to the regional meet.

Van Buren senior Ted Simmons took the 800 crown in 1:58.36 and posted the third-fastest time of 4:41.52 in the 1,600 to advance, while Carey senior Jacob Goble’s toss of 50-1¾ in the shot put earned him top honors.

Liberty-Benton’s Zach Garver cleared 6-2 for a runner-up finish in the high jump, but teammate Brian Miller, who placed fourth at last year’s state meet, failed to qualify for regionals by finishing fifth (6-0).

BOYS TEAM STANDINGS
1, Liberty-Benton 109. 2, Bluffton 101. 3, Columbus Grove 87. 4, Waynesfield-Goshen 66. 5, Upper Scioto Valley 49. 6, Carey 36. 7, Riverdale 33. 8, Van Buren 29. 9, Arlington 26. 10, Ada 24. 11, Cory-Rawson 23. 12, Allen East 22. 13, Pandora-Gilboa 20. 13, Leipsic 20. 15, Vanlue 11. 16, McComb 3. 17, Ridgemont 1. 17, Hardin Northern 1.

INDIVIDUAL BOYS FINISHES
SHOT — 1, Goble (Car) 50-1¾. 2, Inniger (Arl) 48-10. 3, Combs (L-B) 48-6½. 4, Huber (W-G) 48-2. 5, May (L-B) 46-6. 6, Roney (CG) 46-0. 7, Smith (Blu) 45-10. 8, Vorhees (CG) 45-7¼.
HJ — 1, Lament (W-G) 6-4. 2, Garver (L-B) 6-2. 3, Arredondo (Car) 6-2. 4, Howard (USV) 6-0. 5, Miller (L-B) 6-0. 6, Clement (CG) 6-0. 7, Pever (Riv) 5-10. 8, Willeke (Ada) 5-8.
110 HH — 1, Murriel (Leip) 15.60. 2, Lament (W-G) 15.68. 3, Snook (L-B) 15.93. 4, Huston (Van) 15.99. 5, Rath (L-B) 16.07. 8, Bassitt (Blu) 16.99.
100 — 1, Little (Blu) 11.29. 2, Warnimont (C-R) 11.40. 3, Ma. Wilcox (Ada) 11.48. 4, Sloan (USV) 11.51. 5, Cook (L-B) 11.56. 6, Moser (C-R) 11.66. 7, Wannemacher (Blu) 11.69.
800 relay — 1, Bluffton (Little, R. Stratton, Alt, N. Stratton) 1:29.55. 2, Upper Scioto Valley (Cotterman, Simon, Stephens, Sloan) 1:33.25. 3, Cory-Rawson (Moser, Sands, Waltz, Warnimont) 1:33.53. 4, Columbus Grove (Warnecke, Bogart, Price, Clement) 1:33.70. 6, Arlington (Marquart, Essinger, Heaster, Oates) 1:36.13. 7, Pandora-Gilboa (Diller, Tousley, Miller, Lugibihl) 1:36.17.
1,600 — 1, Grothaus (CG) 4:40.05. 2, Harnish (Blu) 4:40.24. 3, Simmons (VB) 4:41.52. 4, Altenburger (CG) 4:43.08. 6, Burner (L-B) 4:59.70. 7, Hyatt (Car) 4:59.74. 8, Renteria (Riv) 5:00.09.
400 relay — 1, Bluffton (Wannemacher, Alt, Lee, Little) 44.10. 2, Liberty-Benton (Lawson, Cook, Whitaker, Combs) 44.49. 3, Cory-Rawson (Moser, Sands, Waltz, Warnimont) 44.74. 4, Upper Scioto Valley (Cotterman, Simon, Stephens, Sloan) 45.11. 6, Pandora-Gilboa (Diller, Lugibihl, Miller, Tousley) 46.02. 7, Columbus Grove (Warnecke, Bogart, Gladwell, Price). 8, Hardin Northern (Gossard, Schlatter, Stump, Drumm) 46.41.
400 — 1, N. Stratton (Blu) 49.89. 2, Bauer (USV) 50.43. 3, Ma. Wilcox (Ada) 50.93. 4, Shuey (AE) 51.57. 5, Demellweek (Blu) 51.70. 6, Kromer (Car) 52.75. 7, Hyatt (Car) 53.01. 8, Dysert (McC) 53.49.
300 ih — 1, Murriel (Leip) 41.18. 2, Rath (L-B) 41.71. 3, Huston (Van) 42.24. 4, Lament (W-G) 42.36. 5, Snook (L-B) 42.81.
800 — 1, Simmons (VB) 1:58.36. 2, Sharrits (CG) 1:58.65. 3, Pever (Riv) 1:59.05. 4, Giesige (CG) 2:01.59. 5, Mi. Wilcox (Ada) 2:02.81. 6, Lauck (Riv) 2:06.09. 7, Lyberg (L-B) 2:07.35. 8, Hoff (Blu) 2:07.48.
200 — 1, Little (Blu) 22.87. 2, N. Stratton (Blu) 22.87. 3, Sloan (USV) 23.25. 4, Ma. Wilcox (Ada) 23.32. 5, Clement (CG) 23.41. 7, Cook (L-B) 29.74.
3,200 — 1, Altenburger (CG) 10:18.60. 2, Cook (Car) 10:20.25. 3, Gleason (L-B) 10:21.46. 4, Grothaus (CG) 10:34.81. 5, Schumacker (VB) 10:46.79. 7, Minard (McC) 10:58.97. 8, Renteria (Riv) 11:03.79.
1,600 relay — 1, Bluffton (Demellweek, Alt, R. Stratton, N. Stratton) 3:24.43. 2, Allen East (Thomas, Rex, Kleman, Shuey) 3:27.21. 3, Liberty-Benton (Boehme, Garver, Lyberg, Snook) 3:29.42. 4, Columbus Grove (Clement, Bogart, Giesige, Sharrits) 3:30.61. 5, Riverdale (Evans, Lauck, Hunter, Pever) 3:31.04. 6, Van Buren (Huber, Matthes, Hiris, Simmons) 3:34.71. 7, Pandora-Gilboa (Miller, Walther, Tousley, Latham) 3:37.33.

Williams, 419-427-8407
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