It’s all coming together for the Amherst girls track team at just the right time. A win at the Southwestern Conference meet? Check.
A win at districts? Check.
A win at regionals? Check.
A win this week at state? Well, we’ll have to check on that later.
The truth is, as much as the Comets would like that, the aim is a top-five finish at this weekend’s Division I state track and field meet at Ohio State.
But make no mistake about it: The Comets have momentum thanks to a record-breaking season that just keeps getting better and better.
The Amherst girls won their first-ever regional championship Friday night at home, outdistancing second-place Medina, 75-47, and qualifying athletes to state in eight of 17 events. The regional win was the first by a Lorain County girls track team since Elyria in 2001.
Junior Sher Champe and senior Sara Moore are the catalysts, contributing to five first-place regional finishes.
Champe won every event she qualified in — the 400-meter dash (56.07) and as a member of the 800- (1:41.81) and 1,600-meter (3:56.44) relays. Moore swept the 100- (15.14) and 300-meter (44.49) hurdles.
Both have state experience. Champe was a member of the 800-meter relay which finished 12th last year, while Moore was 11th in the 300 hurdles.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” Champe said of the state meet. “You’re running against teams from all over Ohio. I came down with mono just several days prior to state last year. The glands in my neck were huge. I’m more excited than ever because I’m well and well-rested. I’m looking forward to going out there and doing the work.”
“The state meet is a very different environment,” Moore said. “Everyone is working their hardest and putting all their effort in to advance. The level of competition is extremely high. We’re fortunate because we have a lot of girls in a lot of events.”
Champe and Moore aren’t the only Comets with state experience, however. Senior Erin Kasper was sixth last year in the high jump, while senior Becki Stuckart and sophomore Lindsay Sands were also on last year’s 800 relay.
The best performances at state for the Amherst girls are 14th in 2001 and 20th in 2000. The boys’ top performances are second in 2000, third in 1949 and fourth in 2001.
“The team atmosphere for conference, districts and regionals was phenomenal,” Champe said. “It was so positive and great. I feel like we can go to state with that mindset and do great things.”
The Amherst girls were second to Elyria at the 2001 regional, 53-46, their previous best finish.
“We’re expecting top times out of these girls,” Amherst coach Rob Glatz said. “We’re going in with an aggressive attitude. We do a great job feeding off past successes, not only throughout the season but also in the meet. When Sara won the 100-meter hurdles on Friday, that electrified our team. We know that all the work that we’ve put in is going to pay off. When we see positive things happen early it psyches us.”
The Amherst girls’ win Friday night was the first regional track title for the Comet program since the boys won the 1953 Class B regional (then known as districts).
“We get together and talk every week about what we learned before and how we’re going to apply it to the future,” said Glatz, a 1997 Amherst graduate in his eighth year on the job. “We’re going to have our final goal session (today) after the team banquet. We first started the goal sessions last year. We’ve taken them very seriously and learned a lot.”
It showed last year when the girls went from seventh place in the SWC to winning conference for the first time since taking three straight from 1999-2001. This year, the Comets won their second straight conference title and went from fourth at districts and ninth at regionals to champion in both.
Amherst was 13th at the 2011 district and didn’t score at regionals.
“I think it comes down to who wants it the most and we want it the most,” Champe said. “We really want it the most.”
The boys team is also on the rise, qualifying four to state, its most since taking five in 2005.
“Competition is special,” Champe said. “I love running against other teams. I love running with my friends, too.”
“Running with teammates is definitely a big thing,” Moore said. “Running together, being the best that you can be, just brings us more together as a family.”
“If you can sum up what we’re doing is that we’re improving ourselves,” Glatz said. “When we see other people on the team improving we want to emulate that. We want to keep that going. That has really energized our team. Last Friday night was magical to see everyone come together. Everyone ran at their best. We’re going to feed off of that and hopefully keep this momentum going.
“This has happened all year long. I remember the first day of practice, we were outside conditioning doing wall touches. They were competing doing wall touches. It was unbelievable. We had 21 kids that broke school records this year. I ordered 86 plaques for our banquet.
“It’s been a very exciting, progressive year. Our girls have jumped right into the role of being champions. They’ve done a fantastic job. I’m very, very proud of them and they’re proud of themselves.”
State track and field
- WHAT: 106th annual boys and 39th annual girls championships
- WHEN: Friday and Saturday
- WHERE: Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, The Ohio State University
- FRIDAY: Running events — 4:45 p.m. (girls and boys 3,200-meter relay); semifinals — 5:15 p.m.
- SATURDAY: Field events — noon (boys and girls wheelchair shot put, girls discus, girls high jump, boys long jump, boys shot put, boys pole vault); 3 p.m. — boys discus, boys high jump, girls long jump, girls shot put, girls pole vault; running finals — 4:30 p.m.
Local qualifiers by team
- AMHERST: Mike Kardos, jr. (800); 3,200-meter relay (Nick Glowacki, sr.; Kevin Burgett, sr.; Chase Klingshirn, sr.; Kardos)
- AVON: Brentten Wiley, sr. (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles)
- AVON LAKE: Max Seipel, jr. (shot put)
- MIDVIEW: Jeff Ondo, jr. (high jump)
- NORTH RIDGEVILLE: 400-meter relay (Jason Lucas, jr.; Demario McCall, sr.; Billy Dwulat, so.; Paul Sonego, sr.)
- AMHERST: Sher Champe, jr. (400); Erin Kasper, sr. (high jump); Sara Moore, sr. (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Alexis Szivan, so. (800); Cassie Vince, sr. (3,200); 800-meter relay (Brianna Shagovac, sr.; Lindsay Sands, so.; Becki Stuckart, sr.; Champe); 1,600-meter relay (Sands, Szivan, Shagovac, Champe)
- AVON LAKE: Christine Bohan, sr. (shot put, high jump and pole vault)
- ELYRIA: Erin Mariner, fr. (1,600)
- LORAIN: Jocelynn Rogers, jr. (100); 800- and 400-meter relays (Rogers; Andresja D’Armas, jr.; Lamia Scott, jr.; Tierra Goodman, sr.)
- FRIDAY: Field events — 9:30 a.m. (boys pole vault, girls discus, girls high jump, boys long jump, boys shot put); running events — 1:30 p.m. (girls and boys 3,200-meter relay); semifinals — 2 p.m.
- SATURDAY: Field events — 9 a.m. (boys discus, boys high jump, girls long jump, girls shot put, girls pole vault); running finals — 1 p.m.
Local qualifiers by team
- BLACK RIVER: Gus Kazek, sr. (3,200)
- KEYSTONE: Emily Peters, jr. (200); Jenna Quillen, jr. (300 hurdles); 400-meter relay (Brittany Gates, sr.; Nikki Tuttle, sr.; Quillen; Peters)
- VERMILION: Hannah Bartlome, jr. (high jump); 800-meter relay (Abbey Bodeker, jr.; AuBree LaForce, sr.; Mallory Morris, sr.; Bartlome)
- FRIDAY: Field events — 1 p.m. (girls discus, boys high jump, girls long jump, boys shot put, girls pole vault); 4 p.m. — boys discus, girls high jump, boys long jump, girls shot put, boys pole vault; Running events — 9:30 a.m. (girls and boys 3,200-meter relay); semifinals — 10 a.m.
- SATURDAY: Running finals — 9:30 a.m.
Local qualifiers by team
- ELYRIA CATHOLIC: Michaela Foisy, sr. (1,600)
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or email@example.com.