First, to win the Midview Relays. Secondly, as host, take home the Reynolds Relays. And the final – win the West Shore Conference title.
Mission accomplised. Could a district crown be next?
At the beginning of the year Avon track coach Scott Lanham sat down with his boys team and set three goals.
First, to win the Midview Relays. Secondly, as host, take home the Reynolds Relays. And the final – win the West Shore Conference title, which at the time may have seemed far fetched, considering the team placed sixth there in 2007.
The Eagles did just that, as they amassed 129.5 points to win the West Shore Conference Championships at Midview's Adelsberg Stadium. The championship, marked the first ever WSC title by any team at the school and with the District meet looming this weekend on the horizon at the same track, things look bright for Avon.
Could a district crown be next?
“It's just a great accomplishment for the boys, all I can say is wow!” said an elated Lanham. “I'm very proud of them. I set this goal at the beginning of the year because I knew they were capable of doing it. I'm excited for them, and couldn't be happier for the guys. They really worked hard and deserve this, we'll be ready this week and see what happens.”
The Eagles dash to first at conference, was led by newcomer Bryant Robertson, who took first place in the 100-meter dash (11.05 seconds) and 200 dash (23.03). He was also part of the Eagles relay team of Matt Kaczmarck, Tyler Irwin, Brett Jensen and Robertson that also took first in the 800 relay (1:34.36).
“He was a football player who had never run track before, that I talked into coming out this year,” said Lanham. “His work ethic is outstanding, and he is just a leader by example. He knows what he has to do, and had been great to work with. I'm proud of his accomplishments.”
But perhaps the sparkplug of the team, as been the case all season, was distance runner Dan Smith. A senior, he continues to break records and is on pace to bring home a medal at the upcoming state championships, which in the distance events, has not been accomplished in a long time for an Avon boys squad.
The mile at the WSC meet turned out to be the race of the day as Smith, Vermilion's Nate Creamens (4:25) and Bay's Michael Brajdic (4:27) all broke the previous meet record.
Smith also gave his team points in another one of the more impressive races of the meet, the 800 run. Bay's Jordan Hawkins won in a 1:59.7, while Smith and his teammate Sam Bickley were not far behind. Bickley was third (2:03), Smith clocked a 2:04.96 to take home fourth, with just a few minutes rest after his 1600 meter win.
Smith, who says he plans to run the grueling double again this weekend in district action has already clocked a 1:59 earlier this year in the event.
“Dan did a great job again for us,” said Lanham. “He's been our work horse all year, and it has really paid off. He set another school record in the mile and also a new conference mark. Bickley is another great story. He was cut from the baseball team and came out for track. He's only a freshman and look at what he has done. All the boys this year have worked hard and come up big.”
Worked hard indeed.
In addition to Smith and Robertson, the Eagles have gotten solid performances from individuals in nearly every event. Alex Bushong is on pace for a trip to state in the discus- learning from one of the best in Brandon Krystowski -who won the state title in 2004- and is a volunteer assistant. Already Bushong, who also has hit 6-0 in the high jump, has tossed the disc 162 feet, and the shot over 46 feet.
His mark in the disc, is 23rd best in Ohio, and has earned him second team elite status.
Zach Wersch is another Eagle who has stepped his game up, taking the WSC title in the hurdles with a 15.71, while sprinters Kazmarck and Jensen have also added some crucial points.
“We've really worked hard this this season, and come together as a team,” said Smith. “Everybody, the distance crew, the sprinters and the field events have come up big. It's a great feeling to be part of this group.”
Smith enters the district meet with the top seed in the 1600 meter run and his time currently is the 18th fastest in Ohio, earning him second team US elite honors.
“That's pretty awesome, I wasn't aware of that,” he said with a smile on his face. “My coaches have been great, and I've really worked hard this year. My goal at the beginning of the year was to break 4:22, but now I'm looking to break 4:20, and get to state.”
As for district action, for the most part Avon will see the same schools that were at the WSC meet, but with Cleveland Benedictine and Akron St. Vincent-St.Mary also in the meet, things could get interesting for the Eagles if they are to take home another crown.
Robertson will have his hands full winning the 100 and 200 meter titles, as Benedictine's Nick St. John has posted some nice times, including a 10.91 in the 100 at the Kimberly relays on May 3.
The Bengals also should get some good points from its field events as both Justin Collie and Romel Dismuke have jumped over 20 feet, while Adam Patterson is nearing the 50 foot mark in the shot.
“We really haven't talked about winning a district title at all this week, so its not that big of a deal for us, ” said Smith. “Coach is more concerned about getting as many kids to regional action as possible. But we're going to go for it, and see what happens. We've never won a district title in school history, so that would be tremendous. Those are some good teams though, but we're all excited.”