MACEDONIA — After winning his second race Thursday night, exhausted sprinter Alex Jones slowly walked across the infield at Boliantz Stadium.
When the final race was complete, Jones had the energy of a kid on Christmas morning.
Jones and his Wadsworth teammates gave everything they had en route to capturing the Suburban League National Conference championship over host Nordonia.
The senior had so much extra energy that he chased down coach Chris Beery to playfully smash him in the face with a cream pie.
“It feels good to know that all your hard work has paid off,” Jones said. “To come in here and win it back-to-back, just feels good to know that everything your doing is for a reason.”
Jones’ wins were among six for Wadsworth over the two-day event. Jones won the 100- and 200-meter dashes in convincing fashion and anchored the 4x100 and 4x200 relays to runner-up finishes.
The individual triumphs came down to better jumps out of the blocks.
“I expected nothing less at first,” Jones said. “All year I’ve been having bad starts, so I think that was key for me to not have a bad start this time and then I finished strong at the end.”
Nick Miller had a hand in three victories, following the convincing 4x8 he shared with Matt Galek, Kyle Hibinger and Gabe Szalay with the 1,600 and 800.
The 800 featured an impressive kick in the final 100 to finish in a meet-record time of 1:53.99.
Szalay ran a blazing-fast 4x4 anchor to put the icing on the team win, but second- and third-place showings also helped Wadsworth to its third SL title in four years.
Szalay was second in the 1,600 and 3,200, and Galek (800), the 4x1 and the 4x2 also were second. Mitchell Blackburn (300 hurdles) and Jacob Atlas (pole vault) were third.
“That’s kind of our thing,” Beery said as he wiped the cream pie from his face. “We have very good depth and lot of kids step up. They have that desire to keep this streak of league championships going.”
The Grizzlies girls tied for fifth behind wins from Payton Grigsby (1,600) and Hailey Montgomery (shot put). Grigsby clocked a personal-record 5:13.62, while Montgomery had a toss of 38 feet, 5 inches.
Sami Shaffer (800) and the 4x8 were second.
“I knew for sure I had to PR and trust my training,” said Grigsby, who shaved 8 seconds off her PR. “My coaches set splits for me, and I try to pace myself for that. My teammates were all yelling them to me, and that helped.”
Highland’s boys and girls walked away with championships in the American Conference, with each beating Copley. The boys edged the Indians 134-125, while the girls team rolled 153-137 to avenge a dual meet loss.
“Our girls all did a great job tonight,” said Hornets coach Paul Lushes, whose team won just three events. “We knew that there had to be a few things to happen, and we just had to keep things close.”
The Hornets entered the final event having already locked up the championship. The 4x4 of Alexa Sposit, Amanda Orban, Hannah Webb and Emily Lyon still managed a first-place run in 4:08.20.
Annamarie DiGiacobbe and Kaylee Kenne provided an exciting finish in the 1,600, with DiGiacobbe using a sprinter-like lean to edge Kenne by 0.05 seconds in 5:12.36.
“It felt really good,” DiGiacobbe said. “We beat that the time that we both were shooting for. (Kenne) really pushed me out there, and I felt really good today.”
Kenne chalked up a victory in the 3,200, beating teammate Jessica Bentley, while Kaelin Stahl and Abby Lewicki placed second and third in the pole vault at 10-0.
The Highland boys were equally as impressive. After Ethan Gerding got things going in the field with a victory in the shot put — capping an undefeated SL season in the event — Nick Jadach and Vince Manning crossed first in the 800 and 1,600.
Jadach won his second straight league crown. This one was in come-from-behind fashion, as he passed Tallmadge’s Vince Labosky on the final turn to win in 1:59.97.
“I saw him just take off, and I knew I couldn’t let him go and I just had to catch-up with him,” Jadach said. “I pushed it as hard as I could the last 300. I wasn’t expecting that.”
The 4x1 and 4x2 relays were second, while Gerding was second in the discus Tuesday and Brent Ponikvar took third in the 300 hurdles. Along with Gerding, Highland got a runner-up showing from the 4x8 in first-day action.
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org