FAIRBORN —Eight area high school track and field teams battled the wind and cold during Tuesday’s Rex Aukerman Relays at Fairborn High School.
With the wind whipping and temperatures dropping as the evening progressed, many of the 100 or so spectators appeared dressed more for a November football game than a Spring track meet.
The Beavercreek quartet of Jordan Grant, Bethany Lassen, Aurora Turner and Emma Hensley started things off with a win in the girls 3,200 relay with a time of 10 minutes and 21 seconds. The Xenia foursome of Brendon Orchard, Sam Maloney, Ryan Orchard and Daniel Michalski claimed first place in the boys 3,200. That same Xenia group later won the boys distance medley relay by almost half a lap.
The host Skyhawks got a win in the Shuttle Hurdle Relay. Adam Knaub, A.J. Green, Omar Inman and Chris Edwards were on that team.
In the 100-meter dash events, Fairborn’s Aaliyah Patten blazed to the girls win with an unofficial time of 12.2 seconds. Fairborn speedster Jeremy Bridges was nipped at the finish line by a Belmont Bison to nullify the Skyhawks’ sweep of the 100-meter races.
Beavercreek’s Turner passed a New Carlisle Tecumseh runner in a backstretch headwind, then sped away for the girl’s 1,600-meter win.
“That wind feels like it is pushing you backwards when you hit it,” Turner said. “It’s really more of a mental thing than anything else, but it’s hard to convince yourself that it’s not a factor when you’re running out there.”
Beavercreek distance phenom Ben Ewert won the boys miler with ease, but said he noticed the wind as well.
“It was like hitting a wall,” Ewert said. “I think running cross country races helped me cope with it. At least here, it’s really windy but at least the track’s not muddy.”
In the girls 400-meter relay, Beavercreek’s runners dropped the handoff on the second exchange and STILL managed to finish in second. Xenia’s Megan Taylor, Tiesse Carr, Mekayla Pullens and Ahzjai Files won the event in 52.4 seconds. Beavercreek boys Michael Chuck, Carlose Edwards, Darius Wurtherm and Adonte Haddox claimed their 400-meter race in an unofficial time of 44.77 seconds.
Xenia coach Cedric Tolbert was encouraged by his teams’ performance.
“I think we’re slowly bringing Xenia track back to prominence,” he said. “It’s a matter of Xenia Pride. We have a superintendent, principal and an athletic director who have all got behind the teams, and that show of support has really been appreciated. … We’re still a few weeks from the conference meets, but I think we’re putting things together and making progress.”
Other area event winners were: Fairborn’s boys mile relay team (Knaub, Gracen Barnhart, Tony Morris and Bridges); Beavercreek’s girls sprint medley combo of Nikki Stephens, Alex and Alexis Rankin, and Ally Applin; Beavers hurdler Conner Gossel and Beavercreek’s girls mile relay team (names were not available at presstime, but it was Turner and several other talented Beaver distance runners).
“Our girls are really really young, but they’re very talented. We’ve got a couple older girls mixed in with them, and that kinda helps. We’re having some growing pains on the boys team, but they’re a good solid team, if we can just get everybody healthy at the same time,” said Beavercreek coach Robert Beekman.
The largest collective groan of the meet came late in the evening when everyone looked at their heat sheets and saw there was still two 2.5-mile distance medley relays and a pair of 1,600 relays yet to go.
“Maybe this cold will make everybody run faster,” a frozen official quipped from the infield.
Fairborn coach Roy Thobe hadn’t seen all his team’s scores, but he thought the meet would come down to either his Skyhawks or the solid Beavercreek team.
For the boys team result, he was exactly right. The two teams tied.
“When the sun went down, I knew it was going to get cold. And that affects the sprint events,” Fairborn coach Roy Thobe said, “but we had a good meet. I thought we ran well tonight. … We’re a work in progress, and we’re going in the right direction.”
The Aukerman Relays are named in honor of the late Rex Aukerman who served as a track coach at Baker Middle School and Fairborn High. Aukerman passed away in 1999.
Due to a computer glitch, probably because something was frozen, the final results of Tuesday’s event could not be printed from the Fairborn fieldhouse. Final results will be posted later this week, but it was believed that Beavercreek had claimed the girls team title, while Fairborn and Beavercreek tied for the boys title.
The overall combined title was won by Beavercreek.