BW girls claim fifth District indoor track title
By GARY HENERY
News Managing Editor
The Golden Eagles’s girls indoor track team continues to raise the bar.
Big Walnut claimed its fifth Central District Indoor Track championship and its third straight by outdistancing the 27-team field by 33 points Saturday at the University of Otterbein. The Golden Eagles previously won District titles in 1996, 2000, 2011 and 2012 before making it three in a row on Saturday in Westerville.
Joe Evener’s Golden Eagles scored 89 points to outdistance runnerup Gahanna Lincoln which finished second with 56 points. Rounding out the top ten were Pickerington Central, third with 48.50 points, followed by Reynoldsburg (46), Bishop Hartley (37), Watkins Memorial (31), Westerville North (28), Hamilton Township (25.33), Wayne (25) and Hilliard Bradley (24).
“Words cannot describe how happy I am. Winning this meet for the third year in a row is an incredible feeling,” Evener said. “What makes it even more interesting is that we did it completely different than we did the past two years and with several brand new faces.”
Big Walnut’s jump squad, led by Olivia Small, Leah Thomas, Avery Kerns and Jordan Lyle, recorded 7 top-four finishes with Small capturing District crowns in both the long jump (18 feet, 1 ¾ inches) and triple jump (35–11 ½). Lyle took second in the pole vault (10–0) while Leah Thomas placed third in the triple jump (33–6 ¾), Kerns third in the high jump (5–0), Small placed fourth in the high jump (5–0) and Thomas fourth in the long jump (15–2 ½).
Laylaa Crawford and Hannah Griffith backed the jumpers with three top four performances in the throws. Crawford set a school record of 33–2 ½ with a third-place effort followed by Griffith who placed fourth at 30–7 ¼. Griffith also placed eighth in the shot put at 29–9 ½.
With their performances in the District, Small (triple, long jump), Thomas (triple jump) and Lyle (pole vault) have qualified to this Saturday’s Indoor State Meet at the University of Akron.
“The past two years were decided on the track, primarily in the sprints. This year we scored 63 points in the field events and took a huge lead from the word go,” Evener said. “Coach Mike Ryder’s long jumpers and high jumpers double scored in the first two events, followed by Hannah Griffith scoring in the shot put, and we never looked back.
“Add to that the fact that of the 17 girls who competed for us this year, seven of them did not qualify to the meet last year,” Evener continued. “This tells me that we are doing things right in terms of developing the younger girls and they in turn are stepping up and replacing those who graduated before them.”
On the track, Jamie Annis placed second in the 60-meter hurdles, breaking the school record with times of 0:10.15/0:09.88 seconds; the 4x800 relay team of Asia Medlock, Beth Bogantz, Catie Craig-Bowden and Addison Shawver placed fourth (10 minutes, 59.66 seconds); Thomas placed fifth in the 60 meters (0:07.97/0:07.91); the 4X200 relay squad of Sam Godby, Olivia Daggett, Kristen Carty and Thomas placed sixth (1:56.94); the 4x400 relay quartet of Medlock, Daggett, Shawver and Kerns placed sixth (4:34.47); Small placed seventh in 200-meter dash in a school-record time of 0:27.02; and Medlock placed seventh in the 400 (1:04.01).
“I really have to praise the coaching staff and what they have done, not only for this meet (which was incredible) but also over the entire indoor season.” Evener noted. “Coach Ryder is again at the top of his game in the jumps. His jumpers double scored in all three events Saturday and he has Liv and Leah qualified to the indoor state meet in the triple jump, Olivia in the long jump with Avery (Kerns) and Liv on the bubble in the high jump. Second –year coach Dora Riggs did a fantastic job developing newcomer Hannah Griffith in both the shot put and weight throw. Hannah is consistently throwing 29s in the shot and broke the school record twice in the weight throw. Coach Riggs also did a great job preparing Laylaa who has hit 29 feet constantly and ended up breaking the school record in the weight throw. Pole vault coach Kevin Abrams has developed a great working relationship with Jordan and she is responding well, placing second in the meet and qualifying to the indoor state meet.”
Evener said the entire Golden Eagle squad came into the District meet focused on what it had to accomplish to defend their title.
“The girls came in focused on what they had to do to win the meet. I talked to them briefly about the importance of team — that it would take every girl in every event to help us win.” he said.“ We needed to cheer each other and support each other. And I reused the motto I have been chanting over the past decade — “Every girl, every event, every point”. When we concentrate on what we do over the course of 16 (indoor) or 17 (outdoor) events we are hard to beat. Every jump, every throw, every vault, and every stride is key to our success. Depth is our best friend.”