MOUNT VERNON — The 30th running of the Rotary Yellow Jacket Relays provided exciting finishes in girls action on Saturday at Mount Vernon’s Yellow Jacket Stadium. After a day of tough competition from the 13 participating schools, Mount Vernon won the Division I meet while Clear Fork did the same in Division II/III competition.
For the Mount Vernon and Clear Fork girls, the win marks a three-peat, though by a closer margin than in each of the last two years. Mount Vernon won six events and reached the podium 12 times total to finish with 108.99 points.
“This was important to us,” said Mount Vernon girls coach Pat Gray. “We had won it the previous two years, and we had a talk on Friday about how no Mount Vernon team has ever won it three years in a row. We set it as our goal, and the girls were serious about it. Coming out and winning six races really set the tone for the field events in the afternoon. We are very proud.
“One of the nice things is we have 47 girls on the team this year. Normally we have about 30. We didn’t have to run the girls in three or four events; our girls could run two events and be fresh. I think that’s what led us to a lot of victories. We were able to rotate fresh bodies in, and that helped us win it.”
Clear Fork, though only winning two events, won the Division II/II team title after scoring 103 points. The Colts reached the podium 11 times, including second six times.
“This was a team effort,” said Clear Fork coach Judy Golden. “Every girl on the team today won a medal except for one freshman. That just shows our depth.”
Ashland was second in Division I with 101 points, followed by Wooster (85.98 points), Northland (73.66 points), Marion Harding (69.98 points) and Mansfield Madison (52 points). In Division II/III, Ridgewood took second (94 points), followed by Johnstown (78 points), Fredericktown (72 points), Cardington (53 points), East Knox (46 points) and Centerburg (46 points).
“This pushes us,” Golden said. “We’re thankful for the competition. They were great competitors, and it was tough all day.”
Mount Vernon’s day began in a very record-breaking way. The 4x1,600-meter relay team of Sarah Baker, Celia Leonard, Lindsey Studebaker and Sarah Fowler clipped .16 off the record time of 22:37.7, breaking Ashland’s 14-year-old mark. That started a strong string of running events. mount Vernon went on to win the 4x400-meter relay, the 4x800-meter relay, the 4x100-meter Shuttle Hurdle Relays and finished the running events by winning the 4x200-meter relay.
“We broke the 4x1,600 record; we knew we would have a shot at it,” said Gray. “Those girls came out strong and got that. Then, we capped it off by winning the 4x200. Ashland, which was a team we were competing with, actually finished last in that race, and that was a big difference. For those girls to come back and win it really capped off the running events for us.”
Then in the field events, the Jackets won the high jump after first-, third- and fifth-place finishes by Jessica Roden, Brittany Shelhorn and Sadie Malone, respectively. Mount Vernon was also second in the long jump.
“Brittany and Jess go toe-to-toe every time they compete,” said Gray. “They are always within an inch or two of each other. Then, Sadie came back out as a senior. We were glad to get her back because she has a lot of high jump and long jump experience. Those high jump points were really big.”
In the Division II/III meet, Clear Fork won the 4x400-meter relay and the Distance Medley Relay. It was second-place finishes in the 4x100-meter relay, the 4x200-meter relay, the 4x800-meter relay, the 4x1,600-meter relay, the 4x100-meter Shuttle Hurdle Relay, the pole vault and the discus that sealed the win, however. The Colts’ best performance may have come in the pole vault where Hannah Johnson and Taylor Long took second and third, respectively.
“We’re happy with the pole vault,” said Golden. “This is only our second year pole vaulting and our best vaulter couldn’t make it today. We came out strong and took home second. That was really a pleasant surprise.”
Fredericktown had a good showing, winning the shot put and long jump behind first-place finishes from Sarah Fletterich and Tayler Carpenter, respectively. Emily Morris led East Knox to the win in the discus, and the Bulldog 1,600 Sprint Medley Relay team took second.
Winning the Yellow Jacket Relays is always important to the host Yellow Jackets. Doing it three times in a row is just icing on the cake.
“Yellow Jacket Relays is always kind of like the halfway point in our season,” Gray said. “We only have a couple of regular-season meets left. When you get to the halfway point, a lot of things have been going on and kids sometimes get tired. To come out and win gives you a shot of adrenaline in the arm and gets you going. It helps you refocus for the rest of the year, and gives the girls a boost of confidence.”