Area D-III track teams, athletes have stood out

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SUGAR GROVE — In 2013, Berne Union, Millersport and Fisher Catholic combined to send four individuals to the state meet.


This season, the Rockets, Lakers and Irish will send four times as many athletes to Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium for the state competition as the teams will send four relays and and eight individuals for a total of 16 competitors.


Leading the way is Berne Union. The Rockets qualified two relays and four individuals, far and away the most athletes they have taken to the state meet.


“It’s nice, my senior year, I get to leave on a good note,” Blake Weidner said of the school’s success. “I hope it carries on. We’ve got some more kids coming in.”


Division III field event finals and running preliminary heats will be Friday with running finals Saturday.


Weidner, who competed in the high jump at the state in 2013, qualified in that event and 800 relay this season. He was 12th in the high jump in 2013 and enters the meet with goals of making the podium. Weidner cleared 6-feet-2 at the regional and has gone as high as 6-3 this season. He is one of 13 jumpers with heights between 6-0 and 6-4.


“It’s going to be pretty tight,” he said. “I really have to push myself and hope for the best.”


Berne Union’s other returnee is junior Zack Maust, who was 15th in the 400 in 2013. This year, he will not only run that race but compete in the 800 and 1,600 relays.


Maust, who hopes to break the school record of 50.2 seconds in the 400, said he will better acclimated to the environment this time around.


“Last year was just an eye-opener to the whole atmosphere,” he said. “This year, I am going in knowing what to expect and trying to improve and make podium. Last year was a good to be there, kind of feel (and) get a foot in the door.


“I’m calmer and more aware of what I have to do for the team. I know my role.”


In addition to Weidner and Maust, Richie Kern and Bishop Reese will compete in the 800 relay. Reese, a sophomore also qualified in the 400 and joins Maust, Kern and Joseph Ricker on the 1,600 relay. Joey Banville will compete in the pole vault for the Rockets.


Like Berne Union, Fisher Catholic will send six athletes to the state meet with one relay and three individuals qualifying from the Fairfield Union regional Friday.


No Irish competitor enters the state seeded better than 12th out of 16 competitors, but coach Gary Moore isn’t worried about that.


“Our seed is high in every event, but our guys have been underdogs all year,” he said. “You never know what is going to happen.


“They know that they have to do their very best.”


The best seeded Fisher Catholic athletes are Aaron Wood in the 3,200 and Jake Stoughton in the long jump. Both have the 12th-best performances in the state from the regional. Stoughton also will join Brody Taylor, Wyatt Messerly and Mason Collier in the 800 relay. Jacob Burley will throw the discus for the Irish.


The Lakers almost were able to match Fisher Catholic and Rockets, sending four individuals to state. Adam Reinhorn will compete in the pole vault for the second consecutive year and he will run with Dalton Ankeny, Zac Budreau and Troy Smith in the 400 relay.


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