TOLEDO – It’s an exclusive club.
The number of Fremont Ross programs to win a conference championship since the formation of the Three Rivers Athletic Conference isn’t large. Girls swimming and wrestling. That’s it.
Well, that used to be it.
There’s a new member of the club.
The Lady Giants track and field team knocked down the door to the Fremont Ross Championship Club Friday night when it pulled out a razor-thin margin of victory at the TRAC Championships, edging out rival Findlay by one point to take the team crown. Ross totaled 119 points to Findlay’s 118 while Notre Dame had 105.5.
“I like bringing it to Fremont because we have a great bunch of kids,” head girls coach Travis Bates said. “I don’t really care about winning any meet, until we get to this one. I thought we had it set up right, but we were kind of nervous (after Wednesday) and I don’t know where Findlay came from, they had a great meet.
“It’s a tough conference to win. We’re going against a bunch of schools that are a whole lot a bigger than us and for our kids to bring that home, I’m really proud of them.
“I didn’t cry much. I was pretty proud of that.”
Unsure of the exact point totals heading into the final race of the event, the 4×400 relay, the Lady Giant team of Kimora Rapp, McKela Elder, Madalyn Metcalf and Ashanti Elkins knew they’d have to beat Findlay by several places.
Lima Senior, which hadn’t lost the event all season, won the race, as expected, in 4:03.00. The Lady Giants finished second in 4:06.09 – trimming their previous best time by nearly seven seconds — earning eight points to their team’s total. Findlay crossed the finish line fifth for four points. The four-point gain moved the Lady Giants into the championship.
“They knew what they had to do,” Bates said. “They knew what they were capable of doing it. If (Findlay) finished more than two behind us, they were going to win it, so the girls did what they had to do.”
The Lady Giants turned in a number of outstanding performances.
Freshman Briana Morrisette became the first Ross athlete – male or female – to win the 100 dash championship. She was also third in the 200 and ran legs of the championship-winning 4×100 and 4×200 relays.
McKela Elder turned in a thrilling – and vital – finish in the 800. Over the last 100 meters of the race, Elder came from behind to pass Findlay’s Katie Corbin, winning Elder 10 points for Ross to Corbin’s eight for Findlay, which later proved pivotal. Elder also placed third in the 1600.
“The Findlay girl, she went out way fast,” Bates said. “I thought maybe McKela was getting nervous, but she doesn’t get nervous. She knows what she’s capable of at the end, and she ran her race and she PR’d. And she PRd in the 1600.”
AnneMarie Moses won her third TRAC championship in the pole vault, reaching a height of 11-feet, 6-inches. Moses was named Co-Field Athlete of the Year.
“I’m so proud of AnneMarie,” Bates said.
Morissette, Nadia Kirksey, Jazzele Lindsey and Jadyn Rozzell combined to win the 4×100 while Morrissette, Lindsey, Kimora Rapp and Elkins won the 4×200.
Rapp and Elkins combined to win second- and third-place, respectively, in the 400 run and Lindsey earned a third-place medal in the long jump. Marissa Overmyer took third in the discus throw.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day for the Lady Giants came courtesy of Madalyn Metcalf, who finished third in the 300 hurdles despite just taking up the event.
“I got to give some props to Maddie Metcalf in that 300 hurdles,” Bates said. “After the prelims I thought, ‘She could maybe get fourth,’ but the performance she had, to come through and get third, that made a difference. She’s tougher than nails. She’s only been doing (hurdles) two weeks. Give props to (hurdles) coach (Jennifer) Long for working with her doing a great job getting her ready.”
Bates himself was recognized by the TRAC as its girls Coach of the Year, but he was quick say a number of coaches on the staff share credit.
“That’s an entire staff award. I only coach two events.”
Boys reach their ceiling
While the girls entered their meet knowing they had a shot at a championship, head boys coach John Elder knew a championship was unlikely for the Little Giants. The strength and depth of Whitmer and St. Francis made it a two-way race for the championship.
The question was, who’d be next?
“Talking to other coaches, we thought it’d be us, St. John’s and Central all battling for third place,” Elder said.
Those thoughts proved prophetic as Whitmer edged out St. Francis for the championship, 143-136, while the Little Giants hit their ceiling, taking third with 103 points while Central totaled 94 and St. John’s finished third with 65.5.
“We did some good things on the boys’ side,” Elder said.
Chief among those were a pair of champion throwers.
Freshman Ethan Green turned in an outstanding performance on Day 1 of the meet, winning the discus throw with a distance of 165 feet, 9 inches, edging out teammate Jason Burling by a mere eight inches for the championship.
Burling, however, got his championship Friday in the shot put, where his winning throw of 52 feet, 5 inches, was 5.5 feet further than his closest competition.
Keaton Jordan placed second in the pole vault, reaching a height of 14 feet while Bryce McKinstry was second on 400 dash and third in in the high jump.
McKinstry earned another third-place medal as part of the 4×400 relay team long with Ivan Starkweather, Ka’Von Martin and Jonathan Martin. Andrew Born then joined Starkweather and Jonathan and Ka’Von Martin for the 4×200 and another third-place medal.
The 4×800 team of Zach Edmonds, Brayden Darr, Evan Starkweather and Jayden Scott also placed third in their event. Scott finished third in the 800.
Distance runners Zach Edmonds (1600) and Ethan McClory (3200) also earned third-place medals.
“We did what we wanted to do,” Elder said. “It’s hard to compete against Whitmer with the number of boys they have.
“(Aside from) Keaton in the pole vault and Bryce, everyone is coming back (next year),” he added. “Sometimes you hope, when things go well, the kids in the halls (at school) will go, ‘Huh, maybe I should run track?’”
Three Rivers Athletic Conference Championship Meet
Fremont Ross Podium Placers
Team Scores: 1. Fremont Ross, 119; 2. Findlay, 118; 3. Notre Dame, 104.5; 4. Whitmer, 87.5; 5. Clay, 85; 6. Toledo Central Catholic, 62; 7. Lima Senior, 55; 8. St. Ursula, 29.
100 Dash: Briana Morrisette, 1st, 12.70
200 Dash: Briana Morrisette, 3rd, 26.01
400 Dash: Kimora Rapp, 2nd, 59.50; Ashanti Elkins, 3rd, 59.89
800 Run: McKela Elder, 1st, 2:21.18
1600 Run: McKela Elder, 3rd, 5:14.69
300 Hurdles: Madalyn Metcalf, 3rd, 49.13
4×100 Relay: Nadia Kirksey, Briana Morrisette, Jazzele Lindsey, Jadyn Rozzell, 1st, 49.65
4×200 Relay: Kimora Rapp, Ashanti Elkins, Jazzele Lindsey, Briana Morrisette, 1st, 1:44.53
4×400 Relay: Kimora Rapp, McKela Elder, Madalyn Metcalf, Ashanti Elkins, 2nd, 4:06.90
Pole Vault: AnneMarie Moses, 1st, 11-06.00
Long Jump: Jazzele Lindsey, 3rd, 17-01.00
Discus: Marissa Overmyer, 3rd, 105-09.
Team Scores: 1. Whitmer, 143; 2. St. Francis 136; 3. Fremont Ross 103; 4. Toledo Central Catholic, 94; 5. St. John’s, 65.5; 6. Findlay, 56; 7. Clay, 42.5; 8. Lima Senior, 18.
400 Dash: Bryce McKinstry, 2nd, 50.59
800 Run: Jayden Scott, 3rd, 2:02.38
1600 Run: Zach Edmonds, 3rd, 4:27.18
3200 Run: Ethan McClory, 3rd, 9:58.88
4×200 Relay: Ka’Von Martin, Ivan Starkweather, Jonathan Martin, Andrew Born, 3rd, 1:32.21
4×400 Relay: Bryce McKinstry, Ka’Von Martin, Jonathan Martin, Ivan Starkweather, 3rd, 3:29.36
4×800 Relay: Zach Edmonds, Brayden Darr, Evan Starkweather, Jayden Scott, 3rd, 8:25.17
High Jump: Bryce McKinstry, 3rd, 5-11.00
Pole Vault: Keaton Jordan, 2nd, 14-00.00
Shot Put: Jason Burling, 1st, 52-05.00
Discus: Ethan Green, 1st, 165-09; Jason Burling, 2nd, 165-01