Merriam-Webster defines titan as “one that stands out for greatness of achievement.” A titan is a powerful individual who is influential in a specific field. The Triway Titan boys track and field team continue to live up to their moniker after they were crowned the 2018 OHSAA Div. II Orrville district champions after scoring 116.5 points and outdistancing runner-up Orrville (82 points). Chippewa got third (73.5), Cloverleaf got fourth (68) and Firelands got fifth (50.5), rounding out the top-five team finishes for the boys.
As if winning one championship isn’t hard enough, how about winning four straight? Coach Mark Shutler’s boys have won four straight PAC-7 championships and four straight district titles. “It is pretty special to have this group of seniors holding the trophy four years in a row. It’s amazing and a bit surreal to be a part of that. Each year it gets harder. This is a tough district, and we have a target on our back as other teams continue to improve, but I’ve told our guys to cherish this moment.”
No matter what happens the rest of this post-season, this group of Titan seniors have earned and are leaving behind an epic legacy of winning on the track and in the field. Team depth has certainly been a big part of the Titans’ success.
The Titans have depth, and their next-man-up mentality paid off, according to Shutler. “Our relays really came through for us today. Luke Myers was out for the relays [due to injury], but Gabe Dieringer and Alex Gilmore really stepped up in the 4-by-100 and 4-by-200, and we didn’t seem to miss too much of a beat.”
If you have quality depth and can move guys around, it makes things easier for a track coach. Shutler knows it takes being proactive to build a successful program. “That is one thing our coaching staff really works hard on is identifying areas where our team needs help and finding athletic kids in our school to fill the need. The kids we end up convincing to come out for the team end up embracing the sport, understand our philosophy, and it’s great when that turns into us standing together in the middle of a track embracing a team trophy.”
Leading the way for the Titan regional qualifying performers was senior Nich Michels, who displayed his mastery of the distance events by doubling up district titles in the 1600 (4:34.35) and 3200 (10:04.11). Senior Clay Miller and junior Ian Speicher will join Michels at Lexington. Miller qualified in the 3200 (10:07.42) after placing third at districts, and Speicher finished fourth (4:44.06) in the 1600.
Shutler heaped praise on his distance squad. “For the past three years it’s really been our milers and 2-milers who have been our one-two punch on the track. Coach Woods always has those guys ready to score high for us, and those events put the finishing touch on our success today.”
Senior Austin Davis captured first place in the pole vault (12-4) while also teaming up on the championship 4-by-100 relay with sophomore Gabe Dieringer, sophomore Kyle Sturgin and junior Dylan Eshler for a time of 44.28 and the victorious 4-by-200 relay team with sophomore Alex Gilmor, Sturgin and Eshler for a time of 1:32.74. In addition to his anchoring of the relays, Eshler placed second in the 100-meter dash (11.22).
Senior Mason Phillips tossed the discus 152-0 to win the district discus title while fellow senior Skyler Fleming heaved the shot 48-3.25 to grab second place and punch his ticket to Lexington. Sophomore Tony Lang qualified for regionals in two events after placing third in the 110-meter hurdles (15.74) and earning fourth place in the 300-meter hurdles (43.94).
Other events where Triway scored points toward the team title were turned in by the 4-by-800 relay team consisting of seniors Joseph Bernadine, Miller and Michels along with freshman Carter Withrow. They finished fifth with a time of 8:43.72. Davis just missed reaching regionals in the 400-meter dash after finishing in fifth place (53.17) while Gilmor finished in seventh place of the 200-meter dash (23.97). Senior Luke Myers placed eighth in the 100-meter dash after suffering an injury. Fellow seniors Stanley Hostetler wrapped up eighth place in the 110-meter hurdles (16.96), and Braden Biggs placed in a tie for eighth in the high jump (5-6). Phillips’ effort in the shot put placed him sixth (46-8.5). Freshman Tyler Davis landed in sixth place of the long jump (18- 7.5).
Triway will be back at it on Thursday, May 24 for the first day of the Div. II Lexington regional championship, where half the field event finals will take place in addition to the semi-finals on the track. The other half of field event finals and finals on the track will take place on Saturday, May 26. Click here for the day one and day two Lexington regional schedules.
A listing of Triway qualifiers for the Div. II boys Lexington regional:
Austin Davis (12) 4-by-100 relay, 4-by-200 relay and pole vault (12-4)
Gabe Dieringer (10) 4-by-100 relay
Alex Gilmor (10) 4-by-200 relay
Dylan Eshler (11) 100-meter dash (11.22), 4-by-100 relay and 4-by-200 relay
Skyler Fleming (12) shot put (48-3.25)
Tony Lang (10) 110-meter hurdles (15.74) and 300-meter hurdles (43.94)
Nich Michels (12) 1600-meter run (4:34.35) and 3200-meter run (10:04.11)
Clay Miller (12) 3200-meter run (10:07.42)
Mason Phillips (12) discus (152-0)
Ian Speicher (11) 1600-meter run (4:44.06)
Kyle Sturgin (10) 4-by-100 relay and 4-by-200 relay