There are times when a small school can feel a bit overwhelmed in track and field, and for Zach Mottice’s Garaway Pirates, the annual Tuscarawas County Classic would be a perfect opportunity to feel the pangs of having to compete against all of the much bigger schools in the county like Dover and New Philadelphia.
“We run a great schedule, a very tough schedule against some top-tier programs,” Garaway head coach Zach Mottice said. “We have continued to drop times, to compete hard and to perform well against whoever we have faced.”
The Pirates boys team is youthful and inexperienced for the most part, but Mottice sees a ton of potential on the horizon for a group that has held its own. In his girls team, he has a number of seasoned veterans who have been around for a long time, who have competed at the highest level and been successful.
He said those experienced athletes have taken the youngsters under their wings and been tremendous leaders and encouragers as they set good examples.
“We’ve got some pretty tough girls, like Makayla Miller, Jocelyn Miller and Lindsey Goehring, who have been excellent at leading us,” Mottice said. “I am so proud of them. A kid like Makayla is part of a dying breed of three-sport kids, and she competed in all three sports.”
The challenge at the classic is facing some pretty big teams, and Garaway continued to hold their own throughout the day.
While the Tuscarawas County Classic is not scored like a normal meet, and team scores are not kept, it provides a perfect chance for athletes to see how they measure up to the rest of Tuscarawas County’s best.
Hurdler Carly Jacobs was more than up to the challenge. She tore to victory in both the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles, continuing her season of success.
“Any time you have a great kid who works hard, has a great attitude, they are going to be a big influence on others,” Mottice said of Jacobs. “That kind of effort is an influence on others. It becomes contagious, and although we have a whole lot of kids on this track team who are willing to work at it, Carly has set the bar very high for others to follow.”
Mottice said his All-Ohioan has not been beaten in the 300s this season and has lost the 100s just once.
While she continues to excel, she is far from the lone performer, especially on the girls side.
In the 800 meter, Helena Immel placed fifth in a strong field, Emma Warkall took sixth in the 100-meter hurdles, Sara Beachy grabbed the win in the high jump, Miller stood out again with second in both the shot put and the discus, and the team of Jacobs, Maddie Walter, Ashton Gerber and Beachy placed third in the 4-by-100 relay. In the 4-by-200 relay, Jacobs, Beachy, Gerber and Haley Shutt also finished third.
On the boys side, Colin Hochstetler finished fifth in the 400 meter, Daniel Mast finished sixth in the 1600 meter and Christian Stocksdale took fourth in the 3200 meter, where standout Julian Shrock ran with wunderkind Aiden Harr for five laps before Harr took off, allowing Shrock to take runner-up in the 3200 meter.
The team of Kyle Dunn, Dillion Tomas, Drew Elliot and Connar Angel finished fifth in the 4-by-100-relay. In the 4-by-200 relay, Colin Hochstetler, Ethan Miller, Andrew West and Angel also placed fifth. High jumper Andrew West finished sixth while Austin Miller finished fifth in the discus.
A couple days earlier in the Thrilla in Zoarville, hosted by Tusky Valley High School, the Pirates turned in another strong effort.
The boys placed sixth with Shrock finishing first in the 1600 meter and Stocksdale duplicating that finish in the 3200 meter.
In the relays Dunn, Elliot, Thomas and Angel finished sixth while the quartet of Hochstetler, Ethan Miller, West and Angel finished fifth in the 4-by-200 relay and sixth in the 4-by-400 relay. The foursome of Shrock, Daniel Mast, Noah Wentworth and Stocksdale finished third in the 4-by-800 relay.
Jocelyn Miller took the runner-up spot in the 3200 meter, and Jacobs did her thing again, winning both the 100-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles. Makayla Miller finished first in the discus, and Warkall was fifth in the pole vault.
The relay team of Jacobs, Walter, Gerber and Beachy earned fourth in the 4-by-100 relay while in the 4-by-400 relay the team of Lizzy Mullet, Shutt, Walter and Beachy finished fourth. In the 4-by-800 relay Immel, Lindsey Goehring, Lauren Goehring and Jocelyn Miller also placed fourth.
“This is really an exciting time for Garaway track because not only are we competing at the varsity level, but also we have 78 kids in our middle school program and some really great talent there. I am super-pleased with where we are right now, and we have some kids leading us who are perfect for that role. I want to win, but to see this many kids come out here, work hard and compete is really what this is all about. We have seen so much improvement across the board.”
Mottice said Gerber and Beachy have both stepped into roles this season and have been very pleasant surprises. He said both have dropped time effortlessly, both are great athletes and their attitudes have been terrific. He also said Austin Miller had become a major factor for the boys, and Kyle Dunn is one of those kids who is willing to step in and do whatever is necessary to help the Pirates compete.
“Our guys are so young, and it is very difficult for young guys to come into the varsity level and go up against 18-year-old men,” Mottice said. “But that is what we are up against sometimes. All you can ask of your kids is to step up and do their best, and we have gotten that kind of effort from all of them as freshmen and sophomores.”
As a sophomore Stocksdale has really impressed his coach this season, and Mottice said that if they continue to get the effort they have gotten, while the Pirates might finish fifth in the Inter-Valley Conference because many of the teams are bigger, his Pirates could well compete for a district title when the tournament kicks in.