Calvert’s championship run

As the PA announcer counted down the places and points for teams Friday, Calvert’s athletes and fans grew more and more quiet and more and more apprehensive.

They knew the final score would be close, but who would finish where was unknown.

At least until the runner-up was named.

That was Archbold, and the loudest cheers the Blue Streaks received came from the Calvert faithful as the Senecas edged Archbold’s boys 60-57 for the first regional track team title in school history.

“We’re pretty pumped,” senior Shane Boehler said. “We’re excited for the school. I think it’s a good thing. We just went out there and tried to perform for the school and the fans and for ourselves.

“After prelim day, we tallied up the total score and figured if we placed exactly where we qualified, we’d end in first place by about 10 points,” he said. “Our goal was, place where we did [in prelims] and we’ll win the meet. We didn’t exactly do that, we dropped a few places in there, but it still turned out.”

Few were as moved about result as coach Stewart Behm.

“I’m kind of speechless right now, to be honest with you. This is something that every coach kind of strives for and it’s been a long road to get here, and this has been a rough season dealing with minor injuries,” said Behm, whose 19th year at Calvert will end with a host of Senecas headed to state.

“The kids have come through and stepped up,” he said. “I’ve had some good teams in the past, I’ve had some very good individuals in the past, but to have this much strength, especially with the sprint group, these kids deserve everything they get this year.”

Along with a regional trophy and state berths, they also got two regional records from the same foursome.

Senior Austin Ball, junior Tyler Long and senior twins Ren and Shane Boehler blazed around the track to win the 4×200 in 1:28.39 and the 4×100 in 42.5 seconds.

Bluffton had the runner-up group in both races, but the Pirates were not close either time; they trailed by 1.74 seconds in the 4×200 and 0.84 seconds in the 4×100.

And the Senecas feel they can, and must, go faster.

“They had very good races. They had PR’s for the season, and even talking to them afterwards, they said that they didn’t think their handoffs were the best that they could be,” Behm said. “We’ve got a little bit of room to improve yet, if that’s possible.

“We’ve still got our work cut out for us next weekend,” he said. “Nothing’s guaranteed yet.”

What is guaranteed is that the Calvert will send plenty of entries to Jesse Owens Stadium.

The Boehlers each also qualified in two individual races, and Long did so in one.

They’ll be joined by the girls 4×800 team, which qualified on the meet’s first day, and Olivia Smith, the reigning two-time state 800 champ.

“I think it’s awesome, how many people we have going with us,” Smith said. “I think we have a lot of good opportunities next week and we’ve got to stay focused and get ready to go.”

That’s something the boys did Friday.

Ren Boehler ran second in the 300 hurdles (40.07) and third in the 110 hurdles (15.32) despite some early rough patches.

He was seeded second in each race, but messed up his steps for the first hurdle in the 300 hurdles after being jostled early in the 110 hurdles.

“I pretty much had to restart my [300 hurdles] race after the first hurdle, and the guy on my inside, I knew he was coming in with a fast time, and he ended up passing me so I knew right there he was going to end up beating me,” he said.

“[In the 110 hurdles] the first hurdle, I got hit by the guy in Lane 4 … and it knocked me out to the outside of Lane 5 and the guy in Lane 6, going over every hurdle, hit my [trail] arm,” he said. “So every time I went to bring my arm up, he stopped it halfway through, so it pretty much stopped my legs so I couldn’t get a clean hurdle. I probably hit seven of the hurdles. I just couldn’t get past him. If I could have gotten past him, I could have beat him.”

Twin brother Shane fared slightly better, capturing second in the 100 (11.19) and 200 (22.49). Archbold’s Levi Wyse beat him by seven-hundredths of a second each time.

“I wanted to win the 200. The 100, I just wanted top four, maybe top two because that’s what I got last year, so I wanted to at least do that, maybe better,” Shane said. “The 200 I really wanted to win, I really wanted an individual win at regionals, but second’s not bad. I’ve got another shot at state.”

Long added a fourth in the 100 (11.28) to close out the qualifiers for Calvert’s boys.

The top four in each event advanced to state.

Ball added a sixth in the 200 (23.09), Dan Reineke took eighth in the 300 hurdles (41.12) and the 4×400 team of Nick Felter (filling in an injured Ball), Michael Smith, Reineke and Long ended eighth (3:40.44), and Behm said every point mattered.

“I knew it was going to be close [for the title],” Behm said. “You want everything to move on, on both the boys and the girls team, and unfortunately a few things just didn’t fall the way they were supposed to today and some kids won’t be running next week, but it’s not for lack of trying or lack of effort.

“Every kid out here gave every thing they had and I’m proud of that,” he said.

Smith was Calvert’s lone girls qualifier on the meet’s second day, taking second in 2:18.66.

The senior had not finished lower than first in an 800 race since the regional during her sophomore year, but Cory-Rawson’s Hannah Roebke pulled away from her to win in 2:16.39.

However, Smith, who also anchored the 4×200 and 4×400 Friday while Roebke ran just the 800, said she won’t let the defeat weigh her down.

“I’m not really too worried about it,” said Smith, who also helped Calvert reach state two days earlier in the 4×800. “She ran a really good race and I know she’s going to continue to run good, but I don’t want to focus on that, I want to focus on my race.”

Behm expects nothing less.

“That’s Olivia. First, second, third, 17th, she’s still going to be happy-go-lucky Olivia Smith. That’s what I like about her, that’s what I love coaching about her,” he said.

“She never has that ‘I can’t’ attitude, it’s always ‘I can,’ and that’s another great thing I love coaching about her,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what deficit she has to overcome, she always thinks she can do it.”

Danielle Kontak, Mallory Paul and Kerrigan Kwiat also ran on the 4×200, which ended seventh (1:50.07). Morgan Smith, Kwiat and Kontak filled out the 4×400, which finished sixth (4:09.96).

Paul, Megan Somodi, Emma Sullivan and Kontak also took seventh in the 4×100 (52.22), and Morgan Smith added an eighth in the 800 (2:25.3).