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The Journal Gazette

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette Northrop's Dylan Kirkwood outruns Concordia Adison Smith cross the finish line for the girl's 100-meter hurdles at the SAC track and field meet Friday night at Spuller Stadium.

Saturday, May 04, 2019 1:00 am

SAC, NE8 Track Championships

Bruins capture team titles

Girls easily outrun Dwenger; boys win close call with Snider

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

There's nothing surprising about a Northrop track team claiming a conference title, as both the boys and the girls did on their home track at the SAC championships Friday.

But while the girls racked up 171.5 points to defend their title and beat runner-up Bishop Dwenger by 58, the Bruins boys won just one event to edge Snider, 113-105.

“This is a really sweet one, a really nice one,” Northrop boys coach Fred Blanks said, noting that last year's team included numerous talented seniors who are now competing in track in college. 

Those losses, Blanks said, meant that an SAC title was up for grabs, with Northrop, South Side (which finished third with 99 points) and Concordia (fourth with 78) all in contention for the team title.

But while the Bruins' only win came from Darrius Sanders in the 200 meters in 22.90 seconds, Northrop scrounged up points with nine other second- or third-place finishes.

“I told (my team) before the meet, every point counts, fifth place, sixth place, seventh place, and they came together and they did it,” Blanks said.

Jesse Hamlin, a Snider senior, said the Panthers had a similar conversation before the meet. He set both the boys 1,600 and 3,200 meet records in 2018, but he was more focused on the team standings this time around.

“It really wasn't a big goal to get the meet records, because (trying for a record) is more of a risk to my place,” said Hamlin, who won a “sit-and-kick” 1,600 in 4:23.58 and then won the 3,200 in 9:31.95. “We came in talking about points in every event, even if it's pulling third place out of pole vault, any points we could scrap up around seventh or eight (place). And it's really exciting, because we've never had that before.”

Concordia junior Reese Gibson finished second behind Hamlin in both their races.

Bishop Dwenger junior Erin Strzelecki also said she held back in her commanding 1,600 win, finishing in 5:14.61, but her strategy paid off later in the evening as she won the 3,200 in 10:54.52, breaking the record set in 2003 by Concordia's Alissa McKaig by nearly 3 seconds. 

“I felt pretty good solid during that; I wanted to conserve myself just a little, because I still have the 2-mile, I know,” Strzelecki said immediately after winning the 1,600. “I was just keeping an open mind during this race. I didn't know who was going to push me during it, or if it was just going to be me and my mind pushing myself.”

Like Strzelecki, Northrop's Dylan Kirkwood and Tionna Brown each won two individual events. Kirkwood easily won the 100 hurdles in 14.97 (her freshman teammate, Morgan Patterson, took second), and then made a final push over the last hurdle to break a dead-heat with Concordia's Adison Smith in the 300 hurdles, winning in 46.94. Brown won both the 100-meter (12.11) and 200-meter dashes (24.73). 

Snider's Payton Gorman beat Northrop's Jo'Deci Irby in the 400, winning in 57.84, but Northrop continued its sprinting dominance by winning the 400 and 1,600 relays in 48.49 and 4:08.12, respectively. Finally, Northrop's Markalah Barnes won the shot put for Northrop with a mark of 40 feet, 8 inches, and then won the discus with a throw of 122-4 while his sophomore teammate Ja'najah Hill finished second. 

Bishop Dwenger found success in middle distance as freshman Katie Woods won the 800 in 2:20.69. She also anchored the winning 3,200-meter relay team on Wednesday, which set a meet record time of 9:35.69.

Wayne senior Erica Xayarath won the high jump at 5-5 and the long jump with a mark of 16-4.5. Freshman Ellica Sommer was the lone event winner for South Side, winning the pole vault at 9-6. 

On the boys side, junior Alonzo Derrick helped Snider's effort with a first place in the 100 (11.06) and a second place in the 200. Junior Randy Holtz won the shot put with a mark of 45-10. Snider boys also won the 400 relay in 43.30 and the 3,200 relay in 8:03.14, missing the meet record by 0.11 of a second. 

South Side made a push for the title as Preshaun Boyd won the 400 in 49.57 and Kaiden Long won the 800 in 2:01.06. The Archers also claimed the 1,600 relay in 3:23.01, and Tahj Alford won the discus with a throw of 124-3. 

Wayne junior Ronald Elliot held off Concordia sophomore Luigi Rivas in the 110 meter hurdles final to win in 14.4, but Rivas flipped the script later in the 300 hurdles, winning in 40.36 to beat Elliot by more than a second. 

Auntral Franklin won North Side's only title in the high jump with a mark of 6-3, Dwenger junior Alexander Schipper joined in late in the proceedings to win the pole vault at 12-6, and Concordia senior Joey Chandler won the long jump at 20-6. 

vjacobsen@jg.net