VANLUE’S BETHANY SMITH leads the field across the finish line during girls 200-meter dash at the Blanchard Valley Conference track and field championships. Smith also won the 100 and 400 and was voted the meet’s Most Outstanding Performer. (Photo by Matthias Leguire / for The Courier)

By TED RADICK
Staff Writer

Four times a Blanchard Valley Conference champion in the 400-meter dash.

Three times each in the 100 and 200.

That’s 10 league championships for Vanlue’s Bethany Smith, a large part of why she was named the girls Most Outstanding Performer at Friday’s conference meet at Liberty-Benton.

Smith took the 100 in 12.76 seconds, the 200 in 26.28 and the 400 in 58.88. After placing seventh at the 2018 Division III state meet in the 400 at 58.52, Smith appears to be right on track for another trip to Columbus.

“I hope I keep dropping times. I haven’t made it in the 58s this early in a season before, so I hope that’s a good sign of things to come,” she said. “I want to get into the low 57s by the end of the year.”

Liberty-Benton, helped by four event victories from Alexa Rickenbacher and three each from Taylor Ward and Alissa Rhodes, won the girls meet with 147 points. Leipsic won a tight battle for second place with 761/2 points, ahead of Hopewell-Loudon (76) and Van Buren (75). Arlington had 65 points and Riverdale rounded out the top six with 571/2.

Leipsic’s Carlee Siefker set a meet record in the long jump, bettering the 1981 mark of 17-10 by Arcadia’s Kelly Diebley.

Siefker went 18-1/2 on her first jump then “got worse as I went along,” she said with a laugh, “until my last jump.” That mark won the event at 18-3.

“It feels pretty good. I was hoping to get higher than 18-3,” she said.

Leipsic’s girls placed second at last week’s Putnam County League meet, so maybe replicating that in the BVC wasn’t such a big surprise.

“That was our goal last week, to beat Kalida,” Siefker said. “That was our goal. We practiced hard all week, our coach made a spreadsheet of where we needed to place and we did it.”

Freshman Lola Wensink got a win the 3,200 in 12:14.61. Siefker, a senior, takes pride in watching the younger Vikings like Wensink develop.

“I keep trying to give her good advice, keep pushing her, keep telling her she’s doing well,” Siefker said. “‘Keep practicing hard.’ With the times she ran today, she could make it to state.”

Rickenbacher and Ward, both sophomores, are young athletes developing well for the Eagles.

Rickenbacher won the pole vault (12-0); the 100 intermediate hurdles (16.26); joined Rhodes, Cassie Warner and Olivia Bodie to win the 400 relay (51.80); and teamed with Ward, Rhodes and Lily Kintner to win the 1,600 relay (4:10.56).

“I really like running with my teammates,” Rickenbacher said. “It really makes running track just so much better. Being able to run for them, and with them, makes it so awesome.”

Liberty-Benton’s numbers, with 23 girls out for track this year, made an 18th straight BVC title an uncertainty.

“I think the key is pretty much is for everyone to try as hard as they can, and work as hard as they can in practice, because if we place as high as we can in the relays it really helps us,” Rickenbacher said. “We can’t always get two points finishes in every event because we don’t have the numbers like some teams.”

Ward won the 800 in 2:25.18 and the 1,600 in 5:21.92. She was sixth in the 800 at state last year in 2:18.56.

“I feel like I’m getting there,” Ward said of her time in the 800. “I’m right around where I was last year at this time, so I feel like I’m starting to get faster and know I can get faster.

“I wasn’t happy with my first lap, it wasn’t as smooth as I wanted it to be. But then, I felt like I needed to make up the ground I lost and I went at it hard in the second lap.”

Ward followed a win the 1,600 at the Pat Wagner Invitational two weeks ago with another victory Friday.

“I’m doing better in the mile right now, which will only help me in the 800,” Ward said. “My expectations in the 800 are high, and I’m not doing as well as I want to be. My coach tells me running the mile will help me, and he’s right. I can definitely see how it will help me in the end. I understand why he’s having me do that.”

The throws are always a highlight at the BVC meet, and defending Division III state champion Chloe Miller of Liberty-Benton won the discus at 138-9. Arcadia’s Samantha Watkins, an all-Ohioan in the discus last year, took the shot put in a personal and school record 39-103/4.

“I really like to PR because it shows me how I’m improving, how I did my best that day,” said Watkins, who was close to a personal record while taking second (136-10) in the discus. “To PR in both events, that’s a huge thing for me. To be able to PR in an event, you know you’re pushing yourself.”

Watkins joined older brother Shae, now throwing at Notre Dame, as BVC champions. Shae Watkins is the BVC record holder in the boys discus with his 186-7 throw in 2015.

“I get to brag,” a smiling Watkins said. “He’s been a help this year. It’s nice having a brother who is also there, has the same interests as you and is able to help.”

Liberty-Benton won the 800 relay as Warner, Kintner, Rhodes and Izzy Granger clocked a 1:49.96. Hopewell-Loudon’s Corrin Hoover took the 300 low hurdles (48.19).

Van Buren’s Justine Hunt, Ella Webster, Alyssa Potteiger and Amber Pisarsky won the 3,200 relay (10:18.73) and Arlington’s Hannah Willow won the high jump (5-0).

Liberty-Benton’s Jack Quisno was named BVC girls Coach of the Year.

GIRLS TEAM STANDINGS

1, Liberty-Benton 147. 2, Leipsic 76½. 3, Hopewell-Loudon 76. 4, Van Buren 75. 5, Arlington 65. 6, Riverdale 57½. 7. Arcadia 54. 8, Vanlue 53. 9, North Baltimore 28. 10, Pandora-Gilboa 23. 11, Cory-Rawson 6. 12, McComb 2.

GIRLS FINISHES

DISCUS — 1, Miller (L-B) 138-9. 2, Watkins (Arc) 136-10. 3, Granger (L-B) 122-5. 4, Peters (Arc) 109-2. 5, Biller (Van) 107-10. 6, C. Rigel (Leip) 105-1. 7, Brooker (NB) 104-8. 8, McCartney (NB) 90-3.

SHOT PUT — 1, Watkins (Arc) 39-10¾. 2, Miller (L-B) 37-9¼. 3, Brooker (NB) 36-5. 4, Peters (Arc) 34-6. 5, Burman (L-B) 33-8. 6, C. Rigel (Leip) 33-3, 7, E. Rigel (Leip) 33-2½. 8, Long (NB) 32-7¾.

LONG JUMP — 1, Siefker (Leip) 18-3 (meet record). 2, Basinger (P-G) 16-5. 3, Inbody (Arl) 16-4. 4, Ashburn (Riv) 15-9. 5, Willow (Arl) 15-6¼. 6, Martin (Riv) 15-¼. 7, Lanning (NB) 15-0. 8, Kapelka (H-L) 14-10½.

HIGH JUMP — 1, Willow (Arl) 5-0. 2, Cavera (VB) 4-10. 3, Ashburn (Riv) & Nunez (Leip) 4-8. 5, Kreais (H-L) 4-8. 6, Griffith (McC), Frey (Riv) & Baker (L-B) 4-8.

POLE VAULT — 1, Rickenbacher (L-B) 12-0. 2, Bucher (NB) 10-0. 3, Crawford (Arl) 9-6. 4, Leiter (H-L) 9-0. 5, Landers (H-L) 9-0. 6, Jones (Arl) 8-6. 7, Borgerson (L-B) 8-6. 8, Hazelton (Leip) 8-6.

3,200 RELAY — 1, Van Buren (Hunt, Webster, Potteiger, Pisarsky) 10:18.73. 2, Leipsic (Brown, Henry, Heitmeyer, Wensink) 10:25.71. 3, Hopewell-Loudon (Hoover, Kapelka, Brickner, Leiter) 10:35.18. 4, Arcadia (Conine, Pessell, Massie, Sparks) 10:40.94. 5, Riverdale (K. Collier, Barnes, J. Collier, Rothlisberger) 10:53.04. 6, Liberty-Benton (Deeter, Rickle, Smith, Murphy) 11:02.85. 7, North Baltimore (Dewulf, Smith, Schwartz, Hartman) 11:06.04. 8, Arlington (Riegle, Lotz, Jones, Green) 11:09.21.

100 IH — 1, Rickenbacher (L-B) 16.26. 2, Willow (Arl) 16.86. 3, Burd (Riv) 17.20. 4, Hoover (H-L) 17.51. 5, Crawford (Arl) 17.54. 6, Lyons (H-L) 17,59. 7, Northcutt (VB) 18.24. 8, Bish (C-R) 18.35.

100 — 1, Smith (Van) 12.76. 2, Warner (L-B) 12,89. 3, Siefker (Leip) 12,96. 4, Basinger (P-G) 12.98. 5, Nessler (VB) 13.28. 6, Tackett (Riv) 13.54. 7, Franks (Van) 13.55. 8, Bodie (L-B) 13.68.

800 RELAY — 1, Liberty-Benton (Kintner, Warner, Rhodes, Granger) 1:49.96. 2, Hopewell-Loudon (Sours, Wells, Hoover, Roerdink) 1:52.10. 3, Van Buren (Missler, Cavera, George, Nessler) 1:52.94. 4, Arcadia (Brubaker, Watkins, Pessell, Golden) 1:54.30. 5, Riverdale (Tackett, Sudlow, Frey, Phillips) 1:55.64. 6, Pandora-Gilboa (Russell, Schulte, Diller, Basinger) 1:56.17. 7, Cory-Rawson (Bish, Peterson, Roebke, Hassan) 1:58.48. 8, North Baltimore (Bucher, Lanning, Mason, Smith) 1:58.51.

1,600 — 1, Ward (L-B) 5:21.92. 2, Wensink (Leip) 5:28.03. 3, Hunt (VB) 5:36.27. 4, Webster (VB) 5:40. 76. 5, K. Collier (Riv) 5:48.98. 6, Henry (Leip) 5:51.09. 7, Miller (P-G) 5:51.18. 8, J. Collier (Riv) 5:57.18.

400 RELAY — 1, Liberty-Benton (Warner, Rickenbacher, Rhodes, Bodie) 51.80. 2, Arlington (Inbody, Beach, Crawford, Willow) 52.94. 3, Van Buren (Missler, Northcutt, Hoerig, Nessler) 53.39. 4, Hopewell-Loudon (Sours, Wells, Kreais, Landers) 53.51. 5, Pandora-GIlboa (Russell, Schulte, Diller, Basinger) 54.09. 6, Riverdale (Tackett, Ashburn, Frey, Phillips) 54.29. 7, Cory-Rawson (Bish, Schoemaker, Peterson, Hassan) 55.57. 8, North Baltimore (Bucher, Mason, McCartney, Lanning) 55.74.

400 — 1. Smith (Van) 58.88. 2, Franks (Van) 1:01.36. 3, Roerdink (H-L) 1:01.63. 4, Kintner (L-B) 1:02.74. 5, Massie (Arc) 1:05.04. 6, Siefker (Leip) 1:05.31. 7, Hoover (L-B) 1:06.41. 8, Miller (P-G) 1:05.75.

300 LH — 1, C. Hoover (H-L) 48.19. 2, Green (Arl) 48.54. 3, Deeter (L-B) 48.77. 4, Rhodes (L-B) 49.37. 5, Kreais (H-L) 51.53. 6, Renteria (Riv) 53.31. 7, Sudlow (Riv) 53.62. 8, Jackson (VB) 53.65.

800 — 1, Ward (L-B) 2:25.18. 2, Hunt (VB) 2:28.68, 3, Wensnk (Leip) 2:30.70. 4, Webster (VB) 2:33.47. 5, Leiter (H-L) 2:36.02. 6, Sparks (2:39.76. 7, Rothlisberger (Riv) 2:39.76. 8, Roebke (C-R) 2:40.66.

200 — 1, Smith (Van) 26.28. 2, Warner (L-B) 26.73. 3, Siefker (Leip) 27.09. 4, Golden (Arc) 27.13. 5, Kintner (L-B) 27.36. 6, Franks (Van) 27.57. 7, Beach (Arl) 27.62. 8, Sours (H-L) 27.96.

3,200 — 1, Wensink (Leip) 12:14.61. 2, Hunt (VB) 12:34.91. 3, J. Collier (Riv) 12:41.29. 4, Webster (VB) 12:52.71. 5, Schwartz (NB) 12:53.60. 6, Rickle (L-B) 13:07.51.7, Murphy (L-B) 13:25.02. 8, Barnes (Riv) 14:15.61.

1,600 RELAY — 1, Liberty-Benton (Rickenbacher, Ward, Kintner, Rhodes) 4:10.56. 2, Hopewell-Loudon (C. Hoover, P. Hoover, Wells, Roerdink) 4:15.58. 3, Vanlue (Franks, Gerschutz, Sampson, Smith) 4:22.23. 4, Arlington (Inbody, Beach, Jones, Green) 4:25.54. 5, Arcadia (Brubaker, Pessell, Massie, Conine) 4:29.33. 6, Riverdale (Breidenbach, Rothlisberger, Borkosky, Phillips) 4:29.70, 7, Leipsic (Nunez, Brown, Henry, Heitmeyer) 4:30.60. 8, Van Buren (Harr, Adams, Pisarsky, Cavera) 4:34.51.

Radick, 419-427-8405,

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