TRACK AND FIELD Maplewood dethrones McDonald in state relay
McDonald's reign as state champion in the 4x800 relay the past two years was shattered by rival Maplewood.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
DAYTON -- The reign of the McDonald High 4x800 relay is over.
State champion in the Division III track and field meet the past two years, the Blue Devils were bumped by rival Maplewood during the final Friday at Welcome Stadium.
Maplewood's team of sophomore John Palmer, sophomore Derek Armstrong, senior Dave Morrison and junior David Pykare won the event in 8 minutes, 28 seconds.
"We've been chasing McDonald since I was a freshman," Pykare said. "They're a wonderful group to run against. You couldn't ask for better sportsmen.
"But it's great to finally win and come in ahead of them for a change."
Place third: The Blue Devils -- senior David Stonestreet, senior Adam Lewis, sophomore Kevin Stonestreet and freshman Tyler Lunn -- were third (8:09.67). Amanda-Clearcreek was second (8:07.55).
David Stonestreet recalled a Thursday night meeting between the team and coaches that resulted in Lunn, the freshman, running anchor.
"The best way and the gutsiest way for us to do the best we could was to run in this order, with the freshman last," said David Stonestreet, whose team showed its unity by painting their hair blue. "That gave Tyler a chance to show us the guts he has to stick with the leaders and hang on as long as he can."
Just so Lunn wouldn't feel any pressure, the Blue Devils didn't inform him of the change until 30 minutes before the race.
"I didn't say anything," Lunn said of his reaction. "But when they started telling me that they had so much faith in me, I wasn't worried about it."
Climbed to top: After finishing third in 1999 and second last year, Maplewood finally basked in state championship glory while besting Amanda-Clearcreek, one of the favorites coming into the race.
"We ran eight minutes; our fastest before that was 8:01," Maplewood coach David Deeter said. "With the [strong] wind, eight minutes was really good. It slowed down a lot of the sprint times, so it had to have slowed down distance times."
Deeter said the Rockets changed their running order, installing the underclassmen Palmer and Armstrong ahead of Morrison and Pykare.
"We got a little bit more out of the two sophomores and then we were able to go to our senior and junior," Deeter said.
Other qualifiers: A number of other Div. III athletes qualified for the finals of today's events by finishing among the top four in each heat Friday.
McDonald senior Carol Holmes advanced in two of three events. She tied for first in the 100-meter dash (12.59) and finished third in the 400 (59.18).
Holmes' seventh-place finish in the 200 (27.38) had her upset at the end of the day.
"I didn't feel good in the 400, either," Holmes said. "It's a bad day to have a bad day. Today will be easier, knowing I have two [events]."
Columbiana senior Derek Garrod also advanced in two events -- the 100 (third, 11.46) and 200 (second, 22.99).
"I used to think the 100 was my best event," he said. "Maybe I'm stronger this year in the 200."
Back to finals: Western Reserve senior Michelle Morrison is returning to the finals in the 300 hurdles (third, 46.28).
"I'm stronger mentally, because I've been here before and I have more confidence in myself," said Morrison, who was sixth last year.
Warren JFK sophomore Ben Nolan qualified in the 400 (fourth, 51.65), as did Eagles senior Alvin Shavers in the 300 hurdles (fourth, 40.79).
Wellsville senior Richard Sloan also advanced in the 200 (fourth, 23.24) and 400 (first, 49.61).