MOUNT VERNON — Saturday was a little bit of back to the future of the Rotary Yellow Jacket Relays.
The Mount Vernon High School boys squad did what some thought impossible by winning the Division I Yellow Jacket Relays for the first time since 1983. The Jackets won five events and finished second another five times to score 109 points.
“This is very big,” said Mount Vernon boys coach Jim Lindsey. “We have a really young team; a lot of our experienced runners graduated, so it is almost like starting over again. We have a huge contingency of freshmen, and just this past week I was telling them, ‘You have to grow up. You are no longer considered freshmen anymore. You are part of the Mount Vernon track team, and I’m expecting you to perform to your top potential.’ They did that Saturday; that’s for sure.
“I didn’t know it had been that long to tell you the truth. This is very huge because we talked to our kids about this being a big invitational for us. One, it is held on our own turf, which gives their friends and families a chance to watch without traveling. It has been a long tradition of the Yellow Jacket Relays. ... Two, there has always been stiff competition. There are a lot of good teams, so for this young team to come out and get first place is very big. Plus it only helps for the future.”
The Clear Fork boys put on a strong display, but Ridgewood gave them a run for the top spot. In the end, the Colts edged the Generals, 107-106, in the closest finish since 2002. The win is Clear Fork’s first at Yellow Jacket Relays.
“This was really a total team effort,” said Clear Fork coach Brandon Baumgardner. “I’m really happy with how the guys did. We got started off well in the field events. We took three firsts and two seconds, so we had kind of a nice lead going into the running events. Ridgewood’s speed gave us some trouble, but we were able to hold on.”
Right behind Mount Vernon in Division I was Wooster with 100 points. Ashland was third (83 points), Mansfield Madison fourth (79 points), Northland fifth (73 points) and Marion Harding took sixth (39 points). Following Ridgewood in Division II/III were East Knox with 82.5 points, Fredericktown was fourth (75 points), Cardington fifth (54.5 points), Johnstown sixth (47 points) and Centerburg was seventh (40 points).
Mount Vernon started the day off strong, getting a first-place finish in the discus. The trio of Mark Lawson (122-feet-5), Jordan Crabtree (131-2) and Levi Green (104-8) combined to earn first. Crabtree was second overall, Lawson fourth and Green 11th.
“I didn’t expect a first-place finish out of the discus,” said Lindsey. “Those guys did great. They came through, all three of them.”
Mount Vernon also took second in the long jump and pole vault.
By the time the track events began, things were looking good for the Jackets. The 4x1,600-meter relay started the running. Mount Vernon’s team of Jared Vance, Nathaniel Schultz, Jake Gregg and ????? Crawford blew away the competition by nearly 30 seconds (20:10.30) in the win.
“We started out with the 4x1,600, and we had to make a couple of lineup changes at the last minute,” said Lindsey. “I went to our seniors right before that and let them know that coming out of the field events, we were five points ahead. I said ‘I expect you to place in the 4x1,600,’ and Nathaniel Schultz and Jake Gregg said, ‘We’re not going to place. We’re going to win the 4x1,600,’ and they backed up what they said. They were ready for this one.”
Mount Vernon kept it goings throughout the meet, winning the 4x200-meter relay, the 800 Sprint Medley Relay and the 1,600 Sprint Medley Relay. The Jackets also posted second-place finishes in the 4x400-meter relay, the Distance Medley Relay and the 4x800-meter relay.
“Right now, at this very moment, I like this team very well,” said Lindsey. “We seem like a strong team; they don’t seem to be fatiguing any. We’ve got a dual meet on Tuesday against Hilliard Bradley and we’ve got the Wooster Invitational on Saturday, and those two meets will show if we still have a lot of energy left in our legs. ... I’ve always thought a lot of these guys because their potential is huge. They are just starting to shine.”
In Division II/III, Clear Fork posted win in the 1,600 Sprint Medley Relay, the 4x110-meter Shuttle Hurdle Relay, the high jump, the pole vault and the discus. The Colts also had second-place finishes in the shot put, long jump, the 800 Sprint Medley Relay and the 4x800-meter relay.
“Now that we’ve won, this give us confidence,” said Baumgardner. “These guys now know that they can compete against bigger schools. Though we didn’t directly compete against Division I schools, our times were comparable or faster than some of them.”
Fredericktown won the 4x800-meter relay and the Distance Medley Relay, and was second in the high jump. East Knox also had a strong showing, winning the long jump and posting five second-place finishes.
Division II/III records were broken in the 4x110-meter Shuttle Hurdle Relay, the Distance Medley Relay, the 1,600 Sprint Medley Relay, the 800 Sprint Medley Relay, the 4x800-meter relay and the 4x100-meter relay.