Calvert relays the message

Judging success by just looking at team points after the first day of the Division III regional meet can be a bit deceiving. With just one relay and a few field events as finals, a team’s strength isn’t always apparent.

After a solid first day of qualifying Wednesday, Calvert will get its chance to flex its muscles Friday.

The first three runners of the girls 4×800 team put Olivia Smith within striking distance, and the senior took over from there, passing a handful of runners on the anchor leg to finish third.

Meanwhile, Austin Ball, Tyler Long and twins Ren and Shane Boehler combined to easily win their preliminary heet of the 4×200 and 4×100 relays while all four also reached the finals in their individual races.

And those were just the outstanding highlights.

In all, all seven Calvert relays advanced in one way or another, and the ones in Friday’s finals will be joined by several individuals.

“I don’t know of too many other schools that can boast seven relay teams making it down here to regionals to begin with, and having one moving on [to state] and six making it to finals,” Calvert coach Stewart Behm said.

“We did good,” he said.

That started with the girls 4×800.

Behm said the Senecas tinkered with the lineup over the past few weeks before deciding to put Morgan Smith and Olivia Smith third and fourth and let them chase people. It worked Wednesday as the Senecas moved from the middle of the pack to third (9:52.45) on the final leg.

“Both Morgan and Olivia did a tremendous job today closing the gap. The first two actually ran tremendous races today, too, because we ran our PR by 21 seconds today,” Behm said, referring to Danielle Kontak and Katie Tiell.

“The time was a pleasant surprise,” he said. “What I knew those girls were capable of, I’ve been thinking of this all season.”

Still, it didn’t come easily.

Smith the anchor, was far from the top four – the first four in each event advance to the state meet – when she got the baton, but she said she treated that as a challenge.

“As far as thinking I’m not going to be able to catch them, I try to keep negative thoughts like that out of my head. It wasn’t so much trying to catch them as putting my best effort forth to do what I can for teammates, and whatever happens, happens,” she said. “Obviously I had my eyes on their backs, trying to catch them; you never want to think ‘I’m never going to catch them.’ I was going to do everything to my best effort, make up as much ground as possible.

“It’s a great way to start off the regional meet, with a state berth. These three girls over here, putting in every effort that they can put me in a great position,” she said. “We’re all very excited.”

Calvert’s girls also reached the finals in the 4×100 (51.77), 4×200 (1:50.5) and 4×400 (4:14.07).

The Senecas took third in their prelim heat of the 4×400, while finishing fourth in the prelim heats in the 4×100 and 4×200.

Mallory Paul, Megan Somodi, Emma Sullivan and Kontak ran the 4×100. Kontak, Paul, Kerrigan Kwiat and Olivia Smith competed in the 4×200. Morgan Smith, Kwiat, Kontak and Olivia Smith hit the track in the 4×400.

Olivia Smith, the two-time reigning state champ in the 800, will also run that race Friday along with Morgan Smith.

Some of the boys will be even busier.

Ren Boehler has the fastest time going into the 300 hurdles (39.92) and is seeded second in the 110 hurdles (15.27).

Long (11.36) and Shane Boehler (11.37) turned in the second- and third-fastest times in the 100 prelims, with Shane Boehler (22.6) and Ball (23.03) getting the second- and third-fastest times in the 200 prelims.

Dan Reineke (41.15) will also run the 300 hurdles finals.

Ball, Michael Smith, Reineke and Long also advanced to Friday’s running of the 4×400 (3:32.29).

While those races will bring points, it’s the potential of what could happen in two other relays that has the Senecas excited.

Calvert’s 4×200 (1:29.6) and 4×100 (43.38) teams enter Friday’s finals with the fastest times.

The 4×200 victory came despite a shaky handoff, and neither relay was pushed though the runners feel they can go faster.

Especially in the 4×200.

The Division III state record is 1:28.01. Though that’s a second and a half faster than Calvert’s prelim time Wednesday, the Senecas set a district meet record by running 1:28.64 last week in another easy win.

“I think if we have someone there to push us after our first two legs, I think we can run a really fast time,” Shane Boehler said. “Normally this year, when Ren gets the baton, he already has the lead because Austin and Tyler have given him good leads. I haven’t had anyone to push me this year, so I’m looking forward to that; hopefully in the finals there’ll be a team that can push us.”

Good handoffs won’t hurt, either.

The Senecas would have gone faster Wednesday, but Ren Boehler took off a little too fast on the third leg, forcing him to slow down for Long. He later took a step outside of his lane.

After making the final exchange, Ren Boehler looked up and saw an official holding a red flag back where he had gotten the baton from Long.

However, he said he soon learned that flag was for another team.

“Our handoffs were a little rough today, but it’s something for finals day, it’ll be good,” he said. “It’s not something we’re worried about.”

Along with cleaning up the handoffs, the focus now is on continuing to advance, Behm said.

“We’ve got a good group of kids in the finals on Friday, so we should score a few points. That’ll be nice,” he said. “Looking at the times coming in, this is about where we figured we’d be sitting. We’ve just got to get the job done Friday.”