West Holmes and Hiland were among a large number of teams to compete at the annual Cowen Track Classic in Loudonville on Saturday, April 13, and once again the Knights’ boys team showed why there is a great deal of excitement looming for this season.
West Holmes’ boys team churned out 88.5 points to sneak by Northmor, which garnered 83.5, to claim the title. Cloverleaf was third with 76 while Chippewa took fourth with 71. East Knox, Highland, Rittman, Hillsdale and Hiland, which scored 41 for ninth place, and Fredericktown rounded out the top 10 in the field of 16 boys teams.
“This is a good group that can score in a lot of ways,” West Holmes head coach Ty Harris said of the Knights.
Holmes County had several champions on the day. Not surprisingly Hiland state-qualifier Brayden Gray zipped to victory and wasn’t even pushed in the 300-meter hurdles in a winning time of 41.20, easily roasting runner-up Landon Remmert of Highland’s time of 43.56. West Holmes’ Logan Kula reached the podium by placing eighth in 48.72.
“Obviously our biggest hope coming into this year was Brayden,” Hiland head coach Mark Fowler said. “He was 11th at state last year in the 330-hurdles, and nine of those guys were seniors, and he has been on fire so far this year. He is right there with the best in the state.”
Another winner on the day was Knights’ senior Jonathan Kandel, who impressed in the 800 with a winning time of 2:01.13. This one wasn’t close with runner-up Dakota Smith of Fredericktown coming home in a time of 2:05.24.
Hiland’s Declan Howell fought off the rest of the field in the high jump to claim a title, clearing 6 feet. He then went for 6-03 and appeared to have cleared it but barely clipped the bar on his final attempt and just missed his PR. West Holmes’ Jacob Goudy settled for fifth place, clearing 5-08.
“Declan has gone 6-02 before, so I told him set the bar at 6-03 because you’ve done 6-02 already and that doesn’t prove anything,” Fowler said. “He definitely had the height to clear it. He was over the bar by a couple inches; he just got a little unlucky.”
Lane Graham of West Holmes pushed aside all challengers in the shot by heaving it 48-08, almost a full foot ahead of runner-up Michael Garn of Hillsdale. Graham’s teammate freshman Brock Zimmerly finished seventh with a nice throw of 41-11.
Goudy was a near-miss for a title in the discus. His throw of 129-07 was good for a runner-up spot, but it was an easy win for Hillsdale’s Garn, who chucked it 149-07. Graham placed fifth with a throw of 125-00.
The Knights’ quartet of Travett Boughman, Grady Hay, Kandel and Brady Taylor ran a blistering 3:33.38 in the 4-by-400, easily winning the race by over three seconds. Hiland’s team of Kyle Miller, Jadon Yoder, Nathaniel Yoder and Gray took eighth in 3:49.19.
In the 200 West Holmes’ Brady Taylor qualified third, and Gray qualified fourth, but in the finals Gray turned it on, racing to second in 23:11. Taylor took fourth in 23.33. Highland speedster Jack Weaver won in 23-flat.
Howell flew 18-06.5 to grab fifth in the long jump while Knights’ Gavin Freeman just missed podium by placing ninth with a leap of 17-07.25, a quarter-inch from scoring.
In the 400 West Holmes’ Travett Boughman challenged for the win but had to settle for second in 53.07, just off the winning pace of 52.64 set by Northmor’s Drew Zoll.
Caiden Carter was able to grab sixth place in the 3200 in 10:51.38 with Max Gucker of Cloverleaf winning in 9:56.53.
West Holmes continued to collect valuable points in the pole vault, where Grady Hay cleared 12-06 and Myers topped 12-00 to take fourth and fifth. Hiland’s Aaron Chupp placed sixth with a height of 11-06.
The Knights’ 4-by-200 team of Boughman, Kandel, Hay and Taylor roared to victory in 1:34.37, well ahead of runner-up Northmor’s time of 1:36:08. Hiland’s team of Jadon Yoder, Kyle Miller, Micah Kuhns and Gray grabbed fourth in 1:38.2.
The 4-by-800 team of Caden Zeigler, Caiden Carter, Ian Jones and Cade Wagers scored one point by taking eighth in 9:46.25. Wagers was a near-miss in the 1600, where he took ninth, one spot off the podium, running a 4:58.73, 0.23 out of eighth place.
West Holmes’ 4-by-100 team of Cale Ogi, Emmett Myers, Gavin Freeman and Sawyer Pritt finished fifth in 48.02 with Highland winning in 44:24. Hiland’s team of Kuhns, Howell, Chupp and Genaro Gomez was ninth in 49.14.
On the girls side, Rittman ran away to victory with 129 points, followed by runner-up Chippewa with 101. Fredericktown was next with 82, followed by Cloverleaf, Loudonville and West Holmes with 49.5 in the field of 15 teams.
The Lady Knights picked up their lone win in the long jump, where Kaylin Martin continued a fantastic year in the long jump with a winning effort of 16-09.5. This one comes off her prior event where she surpassed 17 feet for the first time.
“She just keeps getting better and better,” Harris said of his junior star. “She is just starting to realize that she can be really, really good in this event.”
Martin also performed well throughout the day, scoring in all four of her events. She ran third in the 100 meters, finishing in 13.15, while her time of 1:03.29 was good enough to put her fourth in the 400, where teammate Katie Sprang placed third in 1:01.69. Sprang also finished third in the 200 meters in 28.15 as she continues to work her way back into form for the 800, where she became an All-Ohioan last year.
Amy Hughes had a strong day as well, earning a runner-up spot in the shot with a toss of 31-02, just 6 inches off the winning effort of Rittman’s Kaliana Sisouphanh. Teammate Madison Stitzlein finished seventh with a throw of 28-11.5. Pole vaulter Macey Gilstrap placed eighth in the pole vault with a jump of 7 feet.
One disappointment for Hiland was the absence of Nikki Yoder, who did participate in the 4-by-200 relay but was otherwise absent due to illness.
“She has a heart like no other,” Fowler said. “I think she would run all 17 events if she was allowed to. She is a lot of fun to coach. If I only put her in three events, she gets irritated with me. She just wants to compete.”
Finally the quartet of Brogan Steimel, Megan Mellor, Martin and Sprang ran to third in the 4-by-200 relay in 1:57.6.
Hiland’s lone point came in the 200, where Brooke Miller scored eighth in the 200 in 30:02, but she was simply excited to make the finals, something she wasn’t expected to do based on times coming in.