By CHRIS DOBROWOLSKI email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — In terms of drama, one couldn’t have asked for much more from the boys side of the Division 1 track regional Friday at TC Central.
TC Central emerged as regional winners by three-and-a-half points over rival TC West in a meet that wasn’t decided until the final event.
The Trojans took the crown when they finished fourth in the 1,600-meter relay with a time of 3:26.7, six places ahead of the runner-up Titans, who ran a 3:37.79.
“In that 4X4 we knew we had to beat West by two spots to get the regional,” said Central’s Johnny Ackley, who ran the third leg of that relay. “We ended up getting a qualifier for states so we were happy with that. It shows how hard we worked this year. We weren’t sure how we were going to come in today but we did alright.”
Over the last several events of the meet it became a three-team race with Central, West and Flint Carman-Ainsworth all battling for the top spot. They were within points of one another, as all three exchanged leads over that time. But Central’s depth proved to be the deciding factor as the Trojans had a good showing in the 3,200 run with Kyle Dotterrer placing third (9:53.26), Cam McAulliffe fourth (9:55.84) and Nicholas Tarsa fifth (9:55.97). That set up a showdown between Central and West in the 1,600 relay. Central stepped up and met the challenge with Ackley, T.J. Schwannecke, Chris Brower and Anthony Berry running the third fastest 1,600 relay time in school history.
Central finished with 93.5 points, West had 90 and Carman-Ainsworth ended with 83.
“I told the kids everyone is important to what we do. There’s eight places. We don’t have to be first in anything, but keep plugging along and get our points,” said Central coach John Lober. “I had us scoring in 14 of 17 events. When you have that overall depth it’s tough. We’ve got distance runners. We’ve got some sprinters, some hurdlers — across the board. That’s where your team balance comes in. It’s a tribute to our coaching staff, their knowledge, their experience and to the heart our kids showed today. I’m really happy for our kids.”
The win was somewhat bittersweet for Lober, who would’ve liked for West to win the meet if it wasn’t the Trojans.
“Tom’s (Brown) got a great team here. He’s done a great job with those kids,” said Lober. “They’ve never won a regional and I really wanted him to win one because he used to be my assistant coach. He’s a great person.”
Brown’s team won only one event, Dan Montgomery’s regional title in the 100 dash (11.22), but like Central the Titans used good depth to score points in 12 events.
“We did a lot of really good things,” said Brown. “It came down to the mile relay, which we knew it was probably going to come down to. That’s just the way it goes. We were hoping to win, obviously, but we’ve got to get ready to run the Big North Conference meet next Wednesday.”
Central had many highlights from the meet, but maybe the most significant was a second-place finish in the 3,200 relay that set a school record time of 7:52.87. Brower, Kyle Dotterrer, Ackley and Anthony Berry were the four who ran that race. Berry, a freshman, qualified for the state finals in three events, the two relays and the 1,600 run. He was second in the 1,600 with a 4:22.35, which broke his own freshman record in the event that he set 10 days ago.
Aaron Taylor was integral too, winning the high jump (6’5”) and medaling in the long jump (fourth with a 20’6.25”), 110 hurdles (third in 15.11) and the 400 relay (third in 44.5). He was a repeat regional champion in the high jump.
“I was going for 6’7”,” said Taylor, who would’ve set a personal record had he completed the jump. “Just having the opportunity to jump at 6’7”, it was really good for me to get experience at that height.”
Schwannecke came into the meet seeded first in the 100, but he false started. Montgomery went on to win.
“I feel really bad for Schwanneke,” Montgomery said. “I was looking forward to winning it outright, but we still have BNC to battle it out. It feels good. I usually run the 100, 200, 4X1 and 4X2. I scratched out of the 200 so I could focus on the 100. I can’t really say much (about finishing second as a team) we all ran well today.”
Other highlights for West were Connor Hayes taking third in the shot put with a throw of 50’5.5” and Dustin Tucker setting a school record with a third place in the pole vault (13’4”) and Tyler Johnson placing second in the 200 (23.07). The Titans’ also had good showings in the 800 relay (1:33.05), with the team of Spencer Montcastle, Johnson, Dan Montgomery and Brandon Montgomery, and the 400 relay (44.33) with the team of Dan Montgomery, Brandon Montgomery, Johnson and Octavian Waugh.