This season seems to be flying for the West Holmes Knights track and field team. The same could be said for a number of their performers, who are flying on the track.
“We are having a lot of fun right now,” Knights head coach Ty Harris said. “We’ve got a lot of kids who are working extremely hard because they do have some very high expectations.”
The West Holmes boys track team racked up 78 points at the Bellevue Elks Track & Field Invitational on a brisk Saturday, April 28 to finish in third place. Perkins took home the victory with 122.5 points, followed by Norwalk’s 82 points, which snuck them past West Holmes.
The Knights had strong performances in several events. Continuing their recent string of success and finishing first in the 4-by-200 relay were the quartet of Michael Taylor, Brady Taylor, Jonathon Kandel and Brayden Chaney. The Knights flew to victory in 1:32.16, beating runner-up Bellevue by more than one second.
That foursome wasn’t the only Knights’ relay team to grab some gold. Also taking first in the 4-by-400 with a time of 3:37.36 were Michael Taylor, Travett Boughman, Kandel and Chaney. Their winning time was a full four seconds faster than runner-up Norwalk.
Chaney topped off his incredible day by taking home the top spot in the 400 meters, where he darted to a first-place finish in 50.45, easily zipping past runner-up Simeon Hunter of Perkins’ runner-up time of 51.72. Chaney also added a third-place finish in the 200 meters in 23.77 with Ethan Pensante of Ontario winning in a blistering time of 22.62. For his performance Chaney was awarded the Boys Athlete of the Meet.
“That’s a big honor for him,” Harris said of Chaney. “We wanted to come to Bellevue to compete because we wanted to see some different athletes, and we knew it would be a challenge. The weather was awful, but Brayden still ran really well. He was eighth after the first 200 meters of the 400, and he just turned it on and won by 15 meters.”
Other placers for the Knights were Michael Taylor, who ran the 100 meters in 11.67 seconds and finished sixth. Grady Hay placed second in the pole vault, clearing 12-06, but Norwalk’s Owen Rhodes cleared a phenomenal 14-02 to win with ease. Hay also placed sixth in the 200-meter run. Michael Taylor was second, and Ethan Kinsey placed fourth in the long jump. Taylor flew 19-02.75 while Kinsey, who was the final qualifier for the finals, improved his effort and wasn’t far back at 18-09.50.
Michael Taylor continues to nearly match Chaney in total points, and he is doing so almost flying under the radar.
“Michael has been so consistent all year,” Harris said of the elder Taylor. “He is finally 100 percent healthy this year after battling some injuries last season, and he looks fantastic.”
Jacob Goudy ended up fourth in the high jump at 5-08, where he snuck past a host of other jumpers who cleared that height on misses.
Ike Gilt claimed sixth in the discus with a throw of 124-03 while Lane Graham took fifth in the shot put with a distance of 44-02.
Kandel ran a 2:05.04 to place fourth in the 800 meters with Perkins sweeping the top-two spots. Kinsey finished fifth in the 300-meter hurdles in 44.29 with Jimmy Harkelroad of Huron winning in 42.35. Finishing in fourth place in the 4-by-100 relay were Knights Hay, Boughman, Kinsey and Cale Ogi, who ran a 46.87, while Ethan Raber, Branton Shepler, Joshua Mellor and Boughman finished fourth in the 4-by-800 relay.
Harris said a multitude of freshman have helped bolster the Knights’ team scoring this season. Guys like Brady Taylor, who has already placed himself in the Knights’ record books with the record-setting 4-by-200 team of James Billups, Caiden Carter and Shepler, and many more have all been big contributors.
Perhaps none have made a bigger impression than Lane Graham, who has stepped into a throwing role and looks awfully good.
“There’s nothing in the track and field rule book that says a freshman has to be third or fourth in the pecking order,” Harris said. “Lane absorbs everything he hears in practice and in meets. He wants to learn how to get better, and he will do whatever he can to make himself better.”
On the girls side of the ledger, the West Holmes team scored 61 points on Saturday at the Bellevue Invitational to take sixth place in the eight-team standings. Ontario walked away as the champion, collecting 104 points, while runner-up honors went to host Bellevue with 81 points.
Katie Sprang was the lone champion for the Lady Knights, earning first place in the 800 meters where she hammered out a 2:28.71, edging out runner-up Taylor Baxter of Bellevue, who ran a 2:29.77. Those two were head and shoulders above the rest of the field. She also was second in the 1600. Sprang and champion Becca Gregg of Ontario battled throughout with Gregg eventually churning out a winning time of 5:51.82, a couple seconds better than Sprang’s runner-up time of 5:54.08.
Sprang, another gifted freshman, continues to shine in her inaugural season.
“She just keeps getting better and better with each outing,” Harris said of Sprang. “Her work ethic is incredible, and her commitment to training has been inspirational.”
The Lady Knights didn’t produce any other champions but did have some fine efforts on the day.
With a time of 17.03 seconds, Maiah Geib placed third in the 100-meter hurdles in 17.03 while Kaylin Martin finished fourth in the 200-meter run in a time of 28.28, the winning time of 26.78 coming from Ontario’s Madeline Collins. Martin was third in the long jump with a leap of 15-07.75 with Perkins’ Olivia Howard winning with a jump of 15-11.50. Martin also took third in the 100-meter dash with a run of 13.08, narrowly missing second place, getting nipped at the wire.
The 4-by-200 relay of Rebecca Kashuba, Macey Gilstrap, Daybria Yerian and Megan Mellor finished sixth; the 4-by-100 relay of Kashuba, Mellor, Yerian and Hannah Rohr placed fifth in 55.70, not far off the winning time of 5.89 set by Ontario; and the 4-by-400 relay team of Martin, Yerian, Rohr and Sprang ran well, taking fourth place in 4:30.23, narrowly missing third.
“That 4-by-400 team is really coming on right now, and again we have seen some freshman making a nice impact,” Harris said. “We ran that race without [freshman] Brogan Steimel, and Hannah Rohr continues to look great.”
Madison Kandel battled for the top spot in both throwing events, eventually settling in at third in the shot with a throw of 38-02 and second in the discus with a heave of 120-07. Huron’s Kalia Black took top honors in both events, chucking the shot 40-05 and the discus 123.02.
The boys and girls will host University School and Hathaway Brown on Tuesday night, May 1 for Senior Night.