Several area athletes advance from Bucyrus

BUCYRUS – Jason Willman looked effortless in his 8-second win in the 1,600 before following it up with a runaway 3,200 win over New London’s Jonathan Albaugh in the final lap.

The weather was perfect for distance running and Willman proved that, cruised to an easy 4:31.94 victory in the 1,600 before setting a new personal-best in the 3,200, crossing the line in 9:34.92.

“It felt good coming out after my 1,600 and being able to PR in the 3,200. The weather was perfect weather conditions,” Willman said. “At regionals, I just hope to improve my time and advance to the next level. I still have a lot of work if I want to pull off a solid double. If everything goes good next week, state could go very well.”

As for other area district champions, several hit milestones they never reached before.

Seneca East’s Ashton Daniel heaved the shot in a winning distance of 41-3 1/4. Until Saturday, Daniel had never even hit 40 feet.

“This was the first time I’ve ever hit 40,” Daniel said. “I’ve been at 39 (feet) for a few weeks now; wanted to get that 40 before we got to the regional point and hitting 41 today is big.”

Daniel is looking to make her third consecutive trip to state, after finishing seventh last year (37-9 3/4).

“I’m feeling really good,” Daniel said. “I just got out there and do your best. Everybody wants to get to state, everybody is going to be on their A-game.”

Mohawk’s Julia Daniel sprinted away from a tight-knit pack consisting of Anna Willman and Emily Trent in the final 400 meters to win the girls 3,200. She crossed the line in 11:58.29, her first time under 12 minutes in her life for the distance.

She wasn’t even sure she could contend for the title.

“I came in, hoping I would finish second. I thought Anna or Emily would win it. I knew they were both very good. It was a great race, I’m really happy winning it. I’ve never come even close to breaking 12 before,” Julia Daniel said.

Last year she won the race in 12:21.78.

“It’s just a great feeling having it happen senior year,” Daniel said.

Buckeye Central’s Austin McDonnell was the only other individual to win a district title, edging out Ashland Crestview’s Nick Fout, 39.92-39.93 in the 300 hurdles. He was unavailable for comment.

In the midst of area individuals winning district titles, Seneca East boys were beaten out for the district team crown, as Colonel Crawford took a late scoring spree from Clay Jury in the discus and the 4×400 to spring past Seneca East, 132-123.

Seneca East claimed the team title last year.

For Seneca East coach Justin Ruffing, the important thing is moving on and testing his team against deeper competition.

“Regionals next week is where we can take some risks and do somethings that we normally wouldn’t do. It’s fun,” Ruffing said. “We ran well. I told them Crawford is really good, if we were going to get them today some people were going to have to do some things on the track that weren’t on paper.”

Mohawk’s boys 4×200 didn’t win but the group did set a school record, the only area record broken on Saturday.

The relay team of Grant Ekleberry, Brandon Emshoff, Jarred Shellhouse and Drew Loose dropped 4 seconds off their prelim time to finish second behind Colonel Crawford in 1:34.16. The former record of 1:34.59 was set in 2010.

However Mohawk coach Brock Cleveland knows that they have to keep improving if they want to advance to state from Lancaster.

“We’re going to obviously need to get better; 1:34 probably isn’t going to get it done,” Cleveland said. On a bright note, the team has continued to drop time throughout the season, meet after meet.

“They’ve been getting better each week. Hopefully the competition drags us with them,” Cleveland said.