Avon Renames Track Invite To Honor Longtime Coach Reynolds

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Avon’s Reynolds Relays
The first running of the Reynolds Relays were to say the least, an emotional time for the community of Avon. True, the meet previously known as the Avon Relays has been around for
35 years, but head boys coach Scott Lanham felt it was time to honor an
icon in track circles- former Avon boys and girls mentor Jim Reynolds
who stepped down in 2006, with good reason.

As coach of Avon, Reynolds was legendary.


The first running of the Reynolds Relays were to say the least, an emotional time for the community of Avon.

True, the meet previously known as the Avon Relays has been around for 35 years, but head boys coach Scott Lanham felt it was time to honor an icon in track circles- former Avon boys and girls mentor Jim Reynolds who stepped down in 2006, with good reason.

As coach of Avon, Reynolds was legendary. His teams won 26 conference titles, including 15 in girls track. His 1979 and ’80 girls track teams finished second at the Division II state meet.

“I had talked to his son earlier in the week, and we talked back and forth about getting him up here and this being a surprise for him, because he is an icon here,” said Lanham. “This is wonderful that he was able to come back. We've had this in the works for over a year now to name it after him, and its rightfully deserved. He started this meet, so it was only right to name it after him.

“Jim’s been a great inspiration. The reason why I wanted to become the boys head track coach here is so that I could coach with J.R. I was under his wing for a while. He mentored me and guided me in the right direction. He's just an outstanding guy, I hope someday I can compare my accomplishments to him.”

Reynolds admittedly was choked up with the honor, and was clueless until one of his former athletes asked him if he would like a hat.

'JR', as he is fondly called by all, accepted the hat and was amazed by what he saw on it.

“Kelli Johnson gave me the hat, and it took me a second to realize that it said Reynolds relays,” said the 75 year old Reynolds. “I said 'Oh my God!', this is pretty cool. That's when it sank in.”

Lanham's boys realized how important this day was, and for the first time in recent memory took home the team title with 102 points, besting Trinity by over 30 points.

“It's great that we came out here today, and did this for JR,” said Lanham. “I told all the guys we were going to honor him and win this for him today, and that is what they did.”

Avon won four events in the meet, with Dan Smith and the distance crew leading the way. The 6,400-meter relay team of freshman Sam Bickley, sophomore Adam Bevins, junior Andy Ventura and senior Smith won in a meet-record time of 19:10.2. breaking Trinity’s 2004 meet record of 19:14.6.

The Eagles’ distance medley of Bickley, sophomore Ryan Roberts, junior Tim Gibson and Smith also took home first, running a 10:08.1. Smith had a 1600 meter split of 4:29 to pace the way.

The other two Avon wins came in the field events, as senior Alex Bushong led the way with two wins. He teamed with Shawn Duffield to win the discus relay (265-1). He also teamed with junior Brett Jensen to win the high jump relay (11-2).

But a true testament to just how much the boys wanted to win for Reynolds came in the 400 meter relay, which took home second, but set a new school record in the process despite running together for the first time.

“We had a lot of first and seconds, these guys have been really working hard, and its nice to win the meet,” Lanham said. “Our 400 relay broke our school record (45.4) with a time of 45.3. I’m very proud of those guys. Right now everything is going perfect. Hopefully the guys keep working hard.”

Trinity, which came in second, got wins from its 1600 meter relay (Carl Buchwald, Steve Mlinaric, Rushil Patel, John Sobonya), 3:33.4; 3200 meter relay (Buchwald, Patel, Antwaun Holley, Sobonya), 8:29.4; and shuttle relay team (Alex Nydza, Nick Swanson, Karl Wunderle, Mark Doherty) in 1:08.2. In addition, Wunderle had a meet best in the pole vault with his 11-6.

In girls meet action, Rocky River regained the the title the won in 2006 with a dominating performance. The Pirates scored 102 points to easily outdistance second place Avon, who had 68 points on the day.

River was paced by last year state qualifier Megan Grey and Andie Hobson, each of whom were part of two winning relays.

Grey helped her Shuttle Hurdles team to a new meet record, as (Grey, Megan Kane, Sonni Delzani, Ellie Brandt) posted a 1:06.8, breaking the old record of 1:08.6 set in 2006 by Buckeye.

In poor conditions that included driving rain, Grey also had a meet best of 10-0 in the pole vault to pace her team (Grey, Hobsen) to a win in the pole vault (19-0).

Hobson, in addition to teaming with Grey, also was part of the first place long jump relay (Olivia Vitou, Hobsen) that leaped 30-1.

Rocky River also won the 6400 meter relay (Brittney Towner, Hannah Townsend, Paige Nagy, Jenna Berg), 23:45.7; while the team of (Melissa Belanger, Brandt, Maeve Kessler, Maureen Kessler), won the 1600 meter relay in 4:10.8.

Second place Avon got its only win of the day in the distance medley as (Bailey Basin, Kayla Welch, Mallory Balmert, Erin Schneider), ran a 12:08.7 to easily outpace St. Joseph Academy.

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