Lake relay teams dominant; want strong season finish

J. Patrick Eaken

Lake girls track defended its team championship at the 15-team Gibsonburg Invitational, outscoring second place Swanton 106.7-94. The only team Lake can’t seem to beat in dual and tri-meets is Eastwood.
        At the Gibsonburg Invitational, senior Courtney Johnson won the high jump, clearing 15 feet, 8½ inches.
        Lake junior Colette Askins won the 100 meter hurdles in 16.51, just nipping second place Woodmore junior Claire Rothert (16.69).
        In the 100 dash, Lake senior Mya Staczek won in 13.03, a fraction of a second better than Rossford senior Kaitlyn Clark (13.17).
        Plus, the relay teams did well, as freshman Ava Ayers and Olivia Hayward, Johnson and Staczek won the 4x200, finishing in 1:51.53, less than two seconds off the meet record. In the 4x100, Askins, Hayward, Johnson and Staczek won in 52.14, nearly breaking the meet’s all-time best (51.93), which was set by a Lake team in 2013. It’s the kind of success fifth-year coach Jason Schober predicted.
        “So far it seems everyone is buying in and improving from when we first started,” Schober said. “I’m excited to see what our team can do this season. I have a great staff that puts in a lot of time and effort. Our parents and community are very supportive. Most importantly it is a great group of kids that work hard. I think we all want and expect to build on the success we have established over the past three years.”
        Winning is nothing new for Lake girls track. In the last four years, the team has won 12 team trophies by getting in first or second, including five first places over the last two seasons and six over the last three.
        Last year’s team went 4-1 in dual and tri-meets, including a second place out of 17 teams at the Lakota Invitational, second of eight teams at Otsego, sixth of eight at Oak Harbor, fourth at the Northern Buckeye Conference meet, and seventh out of 19 teams at the district meet. This year the individual expectations are higher for some athletes, but the team has only that one championship.
        “Our goal is to finish towards the top every year. We were disappointed with our fourth place finish last season, so we would love to improve on that,” Schober said. “There are a lot of great teams in our league, so our league meet is tough each year.
        “Eastwood, Woodmore, and Rossford all beat us at the league meet last season and all have some great quality kids and talent coming back. The entire league is well-coached with a lot of talent.”
Staczek seeks return to state
        Schober said last year’s team bonded and that continues this year.
        “Relationships have been developed with the kids and coaches,” Schober said. “Plusses have been invite championships and having the opportunity to coach at the state track meet the past two seasons. The 2017 team was a half point away from finishing the regular season perfect. They won every Tuesday meet and won every invite we went to except one, which we lost by a half point.”
        Schober expected Staczek and Johnson to be among his top returning sprinters.
        “They have already helped the program out so much. Great work ethic,” Schober said. “Mya has been a fixture in the 100, 200, and relays since her freshman year. Courtney has been versatile for us for three years now. We’re looking to see her step up in the relays this year. I think our sprinters and field events are probably our biggest strengths. That is probably where the most experience is.
        Staczek is going to Davenport College in Michigan for track and Johnson is going to Lourdes University for cheerleading and track.
        “Both will to amazing things at the next level. I think we have a lot of younger kids who could be on the same path if that is what they want to do. A lot of our girls are three sport athletes that also have promising careers in other sports, which we strongly encourage,” Schober said.
        In various combinations, Askins, Johnson, Staczek and now junior Karissa McCloskey had roles either on the NBC championship and district championship 4x200 relay team, the NBC second place and regional qualifying 4x800 team or the NBC second team and regional qualifying 4x100 relay team.
        Staczek and Askins were part of a 4x200 relay team that had a school record of 1:46.68 going into this season.
        Staczek, who was a regional qualifier in the 100 meter dash last year, was part of a state qualifying 4x100 relay team in 2017, plus two relay teams that finished first or second in the NBC. In 2016, she was on the NBC second place and regional qualifying 4x100 squad and her goal is to see at least one relay team get back to Columbus.
        This year, these record-setting combinations have been dominant during multi-team meets but it’s still hard to fathom what will happen when they get to the NBC, district, regional and hopefully, state.
        “We are very excited to see what they can do. We have a lot of experience back in the 4x1 and 4x2. We lost some experience in the 4x4 and 4x8 so we will see if some younger girls can step up,” Schober said.
Placing in upper division consistently
        They haven’t won every invite this year, but 15 returning letter winners this year have earned Lake a third place finish at Clyde’s A.W. Hendricks Invitational, third of seven at Otsego, fifth of 17 teams at the 44th Annual Lakota Invitational and fifth of eight at Oak Harbor.
        Besides the winners at Gibsonburg, other top returning athletes include senior Meghan Vidra, junior Karissa McCloskey and sophomore Hayley St. John. Vidra and freshman Izzy Greene are the team’s top distance runners while St. John and Johnson are key elements in field events.
        “Vidra is willing to help out wherever she can. Izzy is a very hard worker,” Schober said. “St. John is our best returner thrower and has consistently improved or the last year. Johnson is a returning league champion in the long jump as well as two time regional finalist and was a finalist at the indoor state championship in both the long jump and triple jump.”
        Outside of Vidra and Greene, the team lacks depth at the distance events. Numbers are good, runners are just inexperienced.
        “Not because of lack of talent, mainly because we just don’t have a lot of numbers and experience. We have one senior and everyone else is a freshmen,” Schober said.
        However, getting younger athletes to fill in the gaps has its rewards, too, and Schober is seeing plenty of that.
        “Ava Ayers, Jenae Fisher, Izzy Greene, Olivia Hayward are all freshmen and sophomore Faith Wright is also a first-year runner that we are very excited about helping us out. They have all been very hard workers so far and have been very coachable with great attitudes,” Schober said.



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