At one point in the movie, “Glengarry GlenRoss,” fiery management man Blake yells at one of the property salesman to put down his coffee. “Coffee is for closers,” Blake screams menacingly.
About halfway through the Div. II district meet at West Holmes High School on Saturday, May 19, West Holmes head coach Ty Harris said his team didn’t have much of a shot at catching River View, which had built a huge lead.
Let’s just say that West Holmes likes its coffee because they proved to be major closers as they stormed back to capture a district crown in style.
After watching River View smash its way to the big lead, the Knights came back to score 113.5 points to roll by River View’s 98 and the rest of the field of 14 teams.
West Holmes actually got a big boost from its two field regional qualifiers from two days earlier, where Grady Hay placed second in the pole vault by clearing a PR 13-00 while Michael Taylor won the long jump with a fantastic leap of 21-02.25.
The Knights simply went out and owned the track for the latter part of the meet. Brayden Chaney flew to victory in the 200 and 400 and led the huge win in the 4-by-400 finale. Jonathan Kandel took second in the 800, and then he too ran well in the 4-by-400. Ethan Kinsey zipped to second place in the 300-meter hurdles while Caiden Carter added a solid seventh-place finish in the 3200.
Coffee is for closers, and the Knights were drinking it any way they wished to as they closed down the title chase.
The Knights opened the track portion of the meet with a bit of a downer. Harris was hoping his 4-by-800 team of Brayden Bender, Ethan Raber, Joshua Mellor and Jackson Iamarino might contend for a regional berth, but they placed seventh.
Meanwhile, Jacob Goudy was busy surprising the field in the high jump. Goudy showed what he was made of on his final jump at 6 feet. Make it, and he gets no worse than second and moves on. Miss it, and he settles into that dreaded fifth-place slot. He nailed it, procuring a PR for himself and eight key points for his team.
“This feels great to keep moving on and doing what I love,” Goudy said. “I think the pressure really pushed me because I was in fifth and knew I needed to clear that height to move on. I really believe I can get 6-02, and that could move me on to state.”
Freshman teammate Lane Graham also was busy surprising the field in the shot. Undersized by a field of giants, Graham proved that technique and heart are two vital parts of throwing.
The middle school state runner-up last year placed fourth to secure a spot at regionals.
“These are huge competitors here, absolute monsters,” Graham said with a chuckle. “When I’m sitting here at 5 foot, 9 inches looking at kids with arms the size of my torso, it is hard, but you have to push that aside and fight on. Coach Goudy has been great, and I am very thankful for the seniors above me who have helped me and encouraged me. At the beginning of the year I wasn’t sure I’d even letter, and here I am going to regionals.”
Senior teammate Eric Barbey took seventh in the shot with a throw of 46-02.2 while Graham added a point by placing eighth in the discus with a throw of 125-02.
Back on the track, fellow freshman James Billups earned a valuable point by making the finals and placing eighth.
The 4-by-200 team of Chaney, Kandel and brothers Michael and Brady Taylor kept up their recent tradition of crushing the school record, flying to victory in 1:30.41.
“We’ve got better in us, definitely into the 1:20s,” Michael Taylor said. “Our hand-off on my leg was horrible, and it was on me. We can go lower.”
West Holmes got a single point from its 4-by-100 team of Grady Hay, Brady Taylor, Travett Boughman and Cale Ogi while distance senior Iamarino missed out by placing ninth, one spot out of a point in the 1600.
That was when Chaney reeled off a stunning 48.87 to win the 400 with relative ease, setting in motion the huge closing rally for the Knights.
While everyone was chasing Indian Valley’s Zach Love in the 300-meter hurdles, Kinsey showed strong, placing second to Love’s 40.49 in 41.53.
Kandel and Indian Valley’s Hunter Probert then went at it in the 800, where they fought until the end. Probert was able to finish in 2:00.35 to Kandel’s 2:00.76.
Still, the points were coming in a rush for West Holmes, and they kept pouring in.
Chaney held off River View’s Grant Gunn in a scintillating 200, where his winning time of 22.51 was a fraction better than Gunn’s time of 22.85.
Carter simply was able to hang around in the 3200, where the freshman took seventh in 11:19.51.
At this point the Knights could smell that fresh brew percolating and didn’t need a fantastic finish to win it, but they got one when the 4-by-400 team of Michael Taylor, Kandel, Boughman and Chaney stormed the finish line in 3:26.06.
On the girls side of the competition, the Lady Knights settled into fifth place overall with 54.5 points. Minerva pulled away for the win at 123 with runner-up Tusky Valley nipping at their heels with 117. Indian Valley (87) and River View (83) helped round out the top five.
West Holmes senior Madison Kandel did what she does best, and that is throw things. She took second on day one in the shot with a throw of 37-03.5 with Indian Valley’s Ashton Warner winning at 39-11. Kandel then went toe to toe with Edison’s Faith Hobler in the discus. The two played a game of “can you top this” until Kandel uncorked a beautiful 128-0 throw that Hobler couldn’t match.
The win marks the final time the two-time state qualifier will throw on her home turf, and she wanted to go out on top.
“I wanted to win because this was my last chance to throw here at home,” Kandel said.
The senior, who is heading to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas to throw next year, had to stave off some serious asthma issues to earn her way to regionals.
“You just put all of that aside when it comes time to throw and focus on what you have to do to do well,” Kandel said.
Freshman Katy Sprang continued to prove experience isn’t everything in the 800. Sprang and Minerva’s Sarah Carver bolted to the front of the pack after 300 meters and ran side by side, Carver passing Sprang at about 500 meters for a short time before Sprang retook the lead. Sprang made that move stand up as she pulled away down the home stretch for a win in 2:19.02, compared to Carver’s 2:19.93. That time puts her squarely in the mix for a spot on the state podium, should she navigate her way through regionals.
Another Lady Knight who had a banner day was Kaylin Martin. Martin hammered out a 16-03.75 in the long jump to place second behind a huge 17-06 performance from Sandy Valley’s Hailey Sciury. Martin placed fifth in the 100 meters but then reeled off a fantastic 13.11 in the finals to reach regionals there too.
“This feels great,” Martin said. “I haven’t thought a lot about this moment during the season because I wanted to take this one day at a time. I knew I had a shot, but now that it’s happened, it is a relief. Now my goal is to put together a 17-footer in the long jump because it is going to take something like that to move on. I’m going to do my best and see what happens.”
Maiah Geib turned in strong performances in both hurdles. She ran a 17.10 in the 100-meter hurdles to place sixth and then added another sixth in the 300-meter hurdles in a time of 50.61. The sophomore has had a terrific season and showed incredible improvement.
The girls 4-by-200 relay team of Daybria Yerian, Megan Jones, Megan Mellor and Hannah Rohr placed sixth in 1:53.23 while Macey Gilstrap placed seventh in the pole vault, clearing 7-00.