The Ashland Arrows proved to be too good and too deep when the members of the Ohio Cardinal Conference championship took to the track and field for the annual conference track meet that took place at Lexington High School on Saturday, May 13.
The Arrows accumulated 176.5 points, followed by Lexington with 120 and West Holmes at 104. Mount Vernon (76.5), Wooster (76), Mansfield Madison (63) and Mansfield Senior (35) rounded out the field.
“We put together one of our best efforts of the year,” West Holmes coach Ty Harris said. “In track, individual accomplishments create team success, and that is what happened for us.”
The Knights of West Holmes would feature the usual suspects when it came to collecting the medals for the top spots.
The 4-by-200 team continued its winning ways, but it wasn’t without its fair share of drama. The Knights quartet of Michael Taylor, Brady Taylor, Jonathan Kandel and Brayden Chaney ran a 1:31.88 while Madison’s crew of Miles Bond, James Wagner, Johnathan Adkins and Jamarius Jones were scratching at their heels. At the wire Chaney was able to fight off Jones in a photo finish, West Holmes winning by 0.05 seconds.
Chaney wasn’t finished dazzling and took to the track in the 400 and set a meet record by peeling off a 48.96 in the 400 meters, far ahead of runner-up time of 50.94 by Ashland’s Matthew Martin.
Chaney wasn’t done with his string of successes. He took on a talented field in the 200 and came away the victor by firing off a 22.86, more than enough to defeat runner-up Matthew Martin’s time of 23.23 and the rest of the field.
Chaney would finish off his impressive day by anchoring the 4-by-400 relay team, where Michael Taylor, Kandel and Boughman put him in position to win, and Chaney came through, finishing off a run of 3:27.86, getting past Lexington’s team of Mason Kearns, Kyle Johnston, Forest Volz and Ryan Johnston, who ran a 3:28.12 and took the Knights right down to the wire.
“The Horsemen” not only won the 4-by-400, they set a new West Holmes standard, which was previously set in 2004.
For his effort, Chaney would be named the OCC Runner of the Year.
Chaney said this season of success, not just for himself but for the team, has been exciting.
“This season has been special,” Chaney said. “We’ve got a lot of seniors this year who started their freshmen year with no seniors on that team. To see us grow from then into the team we are now is awesome. We are putting up a lot of points and having a ton of success.”
While that group was expected to compete for the top spot, perhaps in a bit of a shocker the Knights went one-two in the shot, where freshman Lane Graham took home the gold with a heave of 46-06 and senior Eric Barbey took runner-up with a throw of 45-06.
Jacob Goudy didn’t win, but the Knights sophomore came awfully close in the discus. Goudy’s toss of 134-03 was just 2 inches shy of the winning throw of Ashland’s Nick Danison. Those two were well ahead of the pack, but the freshman Graham did manage to add to the West Holmes point total with a fifth-place throw of 123-08.
In the long jump, nobody could hang with Mansfield Senior sophomore Angelo Grose, who fired off a leap of 22-01.25 to win it. Wooster’s Avalonn Harper was second at 20-08.5 while West Holmes’ Michael Taylor was third at 20-03.5. Taylor barely snuck past Wooster senior Treyvon O’Hearn’s effort of 20-02.
The pole vault saw Ashland’s Gavin Rohr and West Holmes senior Grady Hay go toe to toe as the bar continued to rise. As all of the other competitors fell to the wayside, it was just those two. Both managed to clear 13-00, but when Rohr cleared 13-06, he had earned a title, allowing Hay to finish runner-up. Hay’s effort was a new PR.
Hay reiterated Chaney’s comments on the thrill of seeing this team being so successful.
“The most fun thing about it is that we are going out there every night and we are competing in big meets against really good competition,” Hay said. “That’s a bunch of fun. And this is a group that has a great flow going on because we all get along so well. Now it comes down to us doing what we have to do to play our part and do our best because we feel like we have a lot of areas where we can move up through the tournament.”
Finishing third in the 4-by-800 was the Knights’ team of Ethan Raber, Josh Mellor, Branton Shepler and Jonathan Kandel, who ran an 8:55.47 off the winning pace of Ashland’s team that ran an 8:24.07.
Caiden Carter would collect a point by placing eighth in the 3200, running a time of 11:09.56. The win there went to Ashland’s Daniel Arimi, who ran it in 10:10.03.
In the 1600 Jackson Iamarino and Brayden Bender went 10 and 11 in times of 5:01.54 and 5:06.48, respectively.
Unlike the 4-by-200, the 4-by-100 relay team of Travett Boughman, Hay, Brady Taylor and Cale Ogi couldn’t keep pace with Ashland’s winning time of 43.20 and ended up fifth in 45.80. In the 300-meter hurdles, James Billups would just miss out on points by placing ninth in 46.48.
A loaded field took to the line for the 800, where Lexington’s Ryan Johnson ripped off a meet record time of 1:56.12 to win it. He needed it because close behind was Ashland’s Josh Mendenhall, who ran it in 1:58.46. Kandel ran a solid 2:04.74, but in this field that was only good for sixth place.
Goudy secured a seventh-place finish in the high jump by clearing 5-08 with Wooster’s Lonnnie Harper winning at 6-04.