FREDERICKTOWN — Poor weather conditions highlighted the Fredericktown Invitational on Friday night, but a little rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the athletes competing.
Steady downpours didn’t stop the competitors from posting good times, but rain eventually canceled the remainder of the meet. With 13 events uncontested, the Fredericktown boys and Clear Fork girls took home the titles.
Fredericktown (90), which won six events, outpaced Highland (76) and Clear Fork (61). East Knox took fourth (32) and Utica finished fifth (27). Centerburg finished sixth (11), and Danville and Johnstown tied for eighth (4) in the 10-team field.
“The kids kind of gutted it out through the weather, and that was good to see,” said Fredericktown boys coach Will Hartley. “We performed well. ... Obviously, we wanted to compete well at home, and this is always a very competitive meet. Between this meet and SpecTRACKular next week, it gets us ready for our league meet.”
The highlights of the night for Fredericktown came on the track. Garrett Gatton raced to his second-best time of the season in the 110-meter hurdles, finishing first in 16.2 seconds. Isaac Potes won the 1,600-meter run in 4:52, and the Freddies’ 4x100-, 4x200- and 4x800-meter relay teams posted victories. Brennan Goeppinger also had a strong night, tying Clear Fork’s Dion Bellamy in the 100-meter dash (11.5 seconds) and anchoring the 4x100 and 4x200 teams. In the field events, Nathan Cubbage scored first in the long jump at 19-foot-7 1/4.
“Looking at the times, I’m really surprised, especially with the sprint times,” said Hartley. “You would think on a night like tonight, they would be really slow, but across the board, they were strong. Garrett Gatton had a great time in the hurdles, which was surprising in this weather. But again, it is a competitive meet, and it brings the best out in kids.”
Highland won the other three field events contested with Steven Stooksbury putting on a show. He won the shot put with a toss of 51-11 1/2, and won the discus with a distance of 130-10. Clay Chipps won the high jump, clearing 6-2, and Caleb Thurneyssen finished second at 5-10. Ryan Barnett also posted a second-place finish in the long jump (19-3 3/4).
In girls events, Clear Fork won its second big meet in a row by a landslide. After racing through the Yellow Jacket Relays last Saturday, the Colts blew away the field on Friday night. Six firsts and two seconds gave Clear Fork 104 points. Next closest was Fredericktown, which scored 57.
“I can’t say the girls were real happy about competing today, but they all did,” said Clear Fork coach Brittany Bechtel. “It takes a lot to be out running in this stuff, but we are pretty much used to it now. ... They are improving. We have high goals set, and we are hoping we’ve gained enough depth this year to start competing at the top (of the Ohio Cardinal Conference). We know the times have to come down; we have to keep working and getting better so that we can peak at the right moment. Today really wasn’t a peaking day, but they got out there and pulled out some decent times.”
Johnstown finished third with 50 points, and East Knox and Highland tied for fourth (35). Danville (6), Utica (4) and Centerburg (2) finished 7-8-9. Centerburg tied Mansfield St. Peter’s in the 10-team field.
Abby Kuelling won the high jump for the Colts (5-4 1/2), and Sadie Hitchman took the 100-meter dash (13.2 seconds). Clear Fork went 1-2 in the 1,600-meter run (McKenzie Roth, 5:44 and Rachel McKinley, 5:47), and its 4x800-, 4x200- and 4x100-meter relay teams posted wins (10:46, 1:56 and 54.2, respectively). Andrea Miller also finished second to Mychelle Furlan in the discus (95-9). Furlan, who also won the shot put, threw 103-7.
“They are all so strong, I guess I expect this out of them,” said Bechtel of her team’s performances. “I expect them to be at the top. Like our 4x800 relay. They want to win, but they are constantly asking me, ‘What did I run?’ They know they each have to do their jobs to bring their time down. They are very motivated, even on a day like this.”
For the Fredericktown girls, the second-place showing was big. With so many meets wiped out this season, they haven’t really had much opportunity to show what they can do. At home Friday night, they came through despite the inclement weather.
“This was a wonderful night for us to compete against Clear Fork, Highland and Johnstown,” said Fredericktown girls coach Bob Geiger. “Weather-wise, it wasn’t very good, but we finished second. We competed pretty well in some bad conditions. On top of that, we didn’t get to score the pole vault or long jump, which are two of our better events. We are really proud of how we competed in front of our home crowd.”
Hayley Derikito took home the Freddies’ lone first-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles (17.2 seconds), but Fredericktown posted second-place finishes in the 100-meter dash (Tayler Carpenter, 13.3 seconds) and in the 4x100- and 4x200-meter relays. The fact that they were able to slide ahead of some other quality teams was a good sign to Geiger.
“We’ve had two relay meets and a lot of bad weather. We haven’t had a chance to have a regular meet to see where we are at,” said Geiger. “So many of our good athletes are young so this was a good confidence builder for us.”
Complete results from Friday’s meet will appear in Monday’s edition of the News.