By Greg Gulas
The South Range boys and girls track teams used record-setting performances by Tim Nichols and Raianne Mason to roll to easy victories at Saturday’s 11th Annual Clipper Invitational.
The Raiders finished ahead of Berkshire: the boys, 158-91, and the girls, 159-104.
Nichols set invitational and Ward Athletic Complex marks by winning the 1600 meter (4:38.0) and 3200 meter runs (9:40.60). His 22.5 overall points were tops for an individual.
“I definitely wanted to break the two-mile record today, not even thinking about the mile mark; it just happened,” Nichols said. “In the two-mile, my strategy was to run consistent 72-73 second splits and then push the last lap with everything that I had left.
“As for the mile, I wanted to push the third lap and break away, then on the final lap just kick it in.”
South Rangane coach Dave Purins called Nichols a delight to coach because he has a work ethic that is second to none.
“Tim is just one of those special athletes who makes a coach really enjoy his job,” Purins said. “You have to actually ask him to quit practicing.
“When other runners are just getting out of bed, he’s already done his three or four miles and is ready to hit the showers,” Purins said. “He’s just a delight to be around.”
Mason’s 48.80 in the 300 meter hurdles also setinvitational and WAC marks. The record occurred even though she was running in just her fourth event of the season after suffering a sprained right ankle.
“I had my ankle taped and it really felt good today,” Mason said. “My strategy was to run hard from the outset and be the first one to every hurdle.
“I wanted to set a new record and knew that my time was close, so I gave it everything that I had and it really paid off for me,” Mason said.
Last year, the Raiders were unable to participate due to their commitment in the Austintown Fitch Optimist Invitational that was on the same day.
“We had a tough work week and I am absolutely thrilled with today’s outcome for both teams, simply because they ran on tired feet,” South Range girls coach Diane Krumpak said. “We had a conflict last year and were unable to participate, but today was very special with both teams winning.
“As for Raianne [Mason], she’s a worker with so much passion for the sport,” Krumpak said. “She’s self-motivated individual who everyday just wants to get better.”
Berkshire’s Christin Dornback, whose 25 points was tops individually for the girls, set the invitational mark in the 400 meter dash (1:01) while East Palestine’s Chloe Snyder eclipsed the invitational record in the long jump with 15 feet 4 and three-quarters inches.
Dornback, who also won the 200 meter dash, called the day very satisfying.
“When you win an award like this, it just shows everyone that hard work really does pay off,” Dornback said. “It’s special to win an individual award, but even more exciting because our team had an excellent overall showing today as well.”
Nichols called his individual honor unexpected.
“My friend and teammate, Andrew O’Leary, usually wins this award so to be able to win and still keep it in the family is just as satisfying,” Nichols said.
East Liverpool, the defending boys champions, finished third. For the girls, host Columbiana, last year’s girls winners, finished third.
“It was a little chilly and overcast, but the rain stayed away and that was good for all of the runners,” tournament director Don Groubert said. “This event helps everyone get ready for their league competitions next week.”