SALEM — Officials of the All-American Conference are going to have to figure out a way to squeeze a few more dollars out of the track awards budget. It’s either that or send the bill for a second team trophy to Salem sprinter Zack Penick.
With his team trailing Lakeview by two points heading into the meet’s final event — the 4x400 relay — the freshman ran down the Bulldogs’ anchor Andrew Gardner in the final 200 meters, to lift the Quakers relay to victory by less than a second.
In the process he created a tie for the AAC White Tier team championship with both Salem and Lakeview finishing with 113 points.
“I just tried to stay with [Gardner],” said Penick, who also won the 400. “I felt good and I thought I could catch him around the final bend. I was nervous in the last 100 meters, but it was fun.
“I expected to contribute this year as a freshman, but maybe not this much. Being the last leg has some pressure and they [teammates] let me know that they’ll blame me if we lose,” added Penick with a smile.
The other members of Salem’s 4x400 relay were freshman Austin Noel, senior Tyler Metts and junior Dustin Huffman.
The Quakers received contributions from their solid sprint crew and got big points from throwers Mike Boggs and Mike King. The duo placed first and second, respectively in both the shot put and discus to score a combined 28 points.
Lakeview was led by senior Ben Moody, who finished a busy meet by winning the long jump. He also took gold in the 110 hurdles, finished second in the 100 and ran on the Bulldogs’ second-place 4x100 relay.
“We knew Salem would give us a run for our money,” said Moody, who was wearing an old TAC meet T-shirt. “I love facing tough kids because it makes you better. I have mixed feelings about this new league, because the TAC was bigger and there was more competition and our rivals are in the TAC. But we’ll just roll with it.
“I’m a little disappointed with my times today, but I just need to work on my conditioning for districts, I’m just not quite there yet.”
There was just as much drama in the girls’ meet, as the team title was also decided in the final event. But this time, there was no tie.
Lakeview led 90-89 over Salem before the 4x400. The Bulldogs’ quartet included one senior and three underclassmen, while the Quakers’ squad featured two seniors, a junior and a freshman.
Being the experienced one of her group, Lakeview’s Kiley Mathews took matters into her own legs. The senior brought home the team title with a solid split, as Lakeview won by almost five seconds to clinch the championship.
“I’m tired, but that’s OK,” said Mathews, whose day consisted of winning the 400, taking second in the 200 and victories in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays.
“We didn’t know how strong our relay would be because the others had never run the 400 before. But they work really hard to improve their times and get better. They are a determined group. Winning the meet with a team effort is amazing.”
Adding to Lakeview’s team effort was freshman Lauren Schattinger. In addition to competing on the title-clinching relay, she joined Mathews on the winning 4x200 relay and added individual victories in the 100 and 200.
The other members of Lakeview’s 4x400 relay were sophomores Kaitlyn Tonkovich and Maria Gardner.
Salem was paced by the three Shivers sisters. Senior Lauren won the 1600 and was a member of the victorious 4x800 relay and second-place 4x400 squad. Sophomore Lexi won the 800 and was also on the relay, while freshman Gabby Shivers took gold in the 3200 and second in the 1600.
Suzanne Waterbeck provided big points with wins in the 110 and 300 hurdles and the 4x400 relay.