Amy Didion held her breath as the final team standings were announced.
The Perkins coach knew it would be close, especially after Oak Harbor's 4x400 relay team managed a second place finish to the Pirates fourth in the last event of the day.
But the Pirates came out on top, finishing with 114 points to win the second annual Pirate Invite. Oak Harbor took second with 113 points, followed by Bellevue (99), Sandusky (59), Vermilion (51), Norwalk (48), Columbian (42), Springfield (41), Elyria (26), Hawken (24), Huron (11), Genoa (10), Buckeye (10) and Brookside (9).
“We knew we had a four-point lead going into that last event, and that Oak Harbor has a strong 4x400 relay team, so we knew it was going to be close,” Didion said. “We have a young team and I am just glad it worked out for us. The girls worked so hard.”
Katlyn Canada scored the Pirates' lone win with a 34-feet-06 throw in the shot put. Jackie Galloway scored a second place in the 100 dash, Mikaela Caponi took second in the long jump and Alyssa Johnson took second in the high jump.
“For Alyssa to get second as a freshman is phenomenal,” Didion said. “We have some young girls that stepped in, and if they hadn't, the outcome wouldn't be what it was. It might not be first and second all the time, but you get those 3-4's and those extra points really add up.”
Oak Harbor's Athena Eli won MVP of the meet after placing first in three events and second in another to finish with 38 points for her team.
“Athena is very goal-oriented,” Oak Harbor coach John McKitrick said. “After basketball season was over I told her to take a week off, and she wouldn’t have that. She wants to be right out there. She's one of those kids you can use in multiple areas, and you need that on a team. She's just a great kid.”
McKitrick wasn't disappointed about coming in second. Oak Harbor's prom was Saturday night.
“We had a short staff today because of prom and we left a lot of points off the track today,” he said.
“All the same, the kids were great and came to compete. We were throwing kids in and just trying to make things happen. To almost have it at the end was nice and made it fun.”
Perkins was also throwing kids in to try to guarantee a first place team finish.
“Alternates are a unique part of track because you never know if you are going to go in or not,” Didion said. “We had a couple girls that had some sore muscles and things like that. It's too early in the season to push them because you want to get to late May. So those girls stepped up when we needed them to and took the places of whoever needed to come out. I couldn't have been prouder of them.”
Eli won the 400 in 1:03 and teamed up with Allie Jett, Karis DeWalt, and Rebekah Rayburn to win the 4x200 in 1:51. Jett, DeWalt, Eli and Annie Quisno took second in the 4x400 in 4:23.20, while Quisno, Eli, Trinity Gephart and Makalya Wagner won the 4x800 in 10:28.
“This shows how much potential I have,” Eli said after winning the 400. “It can only go up from here. It's motivation when people are cheering and you hear the crowd screaming at you down that final stretch. It pushes you to your limits.”
Sandusky's Dorresha Green won the 100 dash in 12.55 seconds, while Jett took first in the 200 at 27.13.
Norwalk's Sydnie Fetherolf won the 800 in 2:26 and also the 1600 in 5:41.
Bellevue's Madison Scagnetti blew away the competition in the 3200, taking first with a time of 12:04.
Vermilion's Annie Rossi won the 100 hurdles (17.01), and the 300 hurdles (50.61).
Sandusky's relay team of Green, Taylor Hill, Erin Sherman and Naciere Webb won the 4x100 in 51.97.
“Big meets like this, early in the season are real good for us,” Hill said. “If we perform like this, it means we are going to be real good this season. We should be able to go even further than NOLs. We are really hoping to make it to state. I really hope that we can possibly beat our school record and possibly make it to state.”
Bellevue's relay team of Kylie Vogel, Liz Ish, Lauren Turner, and Mariah McPeak won the 4x400 in 4:22.
Vermilion's Hannah Bartlome won the high jump with a leap of 5-foot-4, while Bellevue's Kelsi Karl won the pole vault with a jump of 8-6. Laiken Tester also scored a first for Bellevue in the long jump at 16-7. Norwalk's Morgan Turner took first in the discus with a throw of 114-5.
Truckers dominate the field
Norwalk let the competition hang around for a few events, but it was pretty clear from the start the Truckers were going to run away with the trophy.
Norwalk took first with 142 points and was never challenged as Perkins came in second with 85 points and Sandusky took third with 72.5. Oak Harbor was fourth (72), followed by Bellevue (62), Columbian (51.5), Vermilion (40), Springfield (31), Elyria (27.5), Buckeye (22.5), Genoa (20), Huron (19), Brookside (11) and Hawken (5).
“We've been really building up our program the last two or three years and this was a nice victory,” Norwalk coach Ron DeLuca said. “It's been a long time since we've beaten Perkins, so just beating them is big. Winning the invitational is a real team effort and we got lots of first today. It is a new invitational, but we set a lot of meet records and we are real pleased with those performances.”
Jordan Johnson was named the meet MVP after winning three events and setting an invite record in each one.
“I was watching him today and it was rather chilly in the morning, but he went through a real routine to get ready for each race,” DeLuca said. “He was the sprint champ in the league last year and I think he's faster this year. It's nice to have a guy like him. He has a real professional approach for warming up and getting ready for his races, and it paid dividends on this cold day.”
Johnson took first in the 100 (11.14), 200 (22.88), and teamed up with Breck Turner, Jimmy Wohlers and Sampson Slack to win the 4x100 in 44.68.
“This is our first invite of the season and we wanted to start off strong here against some very good teams,” Turner said after winning the 4x100. “We are a very talented team and hopefully we can knock off a couple of seconds. Me, Jordan and Sampson ran together last year, but Jimmy is new for us. He's a very key player because he is very fast.”
Norwalk's Jared Lee also came up big for the Truckers, grabbing firsts in the 800 (2:01), 1600 (4:37), and teaming up with Luke Landis, Caden Foos and Quentin Howell to win the 4x800 in 8:24.
“He's worked really hard in the offseason and really hasn't stopped running since last year,” DeLuca said of Lee. “Obviously it all starts with good people.”
Norwalk's Jon Suter won the 110 hurdles in 15.54 as well as the 300 hurdles (42.6).
Sandusky's Gene Porter won the 400 (52.65) and teamed up with Davion Fisher, Jason Miller and Ben Fuller to win the 4x400 relay in 3:33.
Bellevue's team of Seth Linder, Maurice Barnhouse, Kyle Norman and Dylan Fultz won the 4x200 in 1:35.
Perkins' Trent Connor won the pole vault with a jump of 14, while Sandusky's Korey Harper won the long jump at 21-10.25.
“Obviously we have a lot more work to do,” Perkins' coach Shane Burrows said. “We have 40 kids that are freshman and sophomores, and 54 kids out. That's probably the youngest we've had in the past 38 years. It's not all there, but bits and pieces are coming together. I like where we are at. We came and competed. From what I've seen today, there are definitely bright spots in our program and room to make a big push.”