By Tommy Dickman
The night of Thursday, April 27 was an emotional one for many in the Bellbrook community. While a crowd gathered at a long board meeting to discuss disapproval of Board decisions, roughly 30 young men and women on a Bellbrook Sugarcreek school bus were heading home from a stellar performance at the Norm Runyan Invitational at Little Miami High School.
The night started out like any other meet. Athletes and coaches loaded up the buses and waited for stragglers to make it on and leave 10-15 minutes late. The bus ride there wasn’t very exciting — not much talk other than throwers discussing the best Chipotle orders.
Permeating talks of burrito or bowl, sofritas or steak, pinto or black beans, competitors discussed strategy and seed times. Once the 50-minute bus ride had concluded Coach Baumer gave the usual spiel: “Great weather out there boys. Let’s go out hard and score some points!”
The 4x1600m, a relay mile event, was the first for running events, and Bellbrook showed their strengths. The A and B teams consisted of vastly different skill levels and speeds, except for the second leg. The second leg of the 4x1600m consisted of juniors Harrison Panstingel and Zander Pittman. Both are cross-country runners and no strangers to mid-distance competition, but Pittman has spent the past season focused on sprints.
The first leg of the A team, freshman Lucas Henley handed off to Pittman. Freshman Josiah Wolverton handed off to Panstingel. Panstingel caught right up to Pittman though and even ended up passing him. The gap was small and once Panstingel handed off to freshman Tommy Shore and Pittman to junior Zach Shore, the gap was closed and Zach ended up with a roughly 200m lead on his little brother. The Bellbrook A team’s 4x1600m placed second with a time of 20:55.61.
Next up was the 4x800m, another successful race for the men’s team. The gap between the A and B teams was more noticeable throughout the race, but some PRs were set by the B team. The A team ended up coming away with some hardware, winning the event with a time of 8:51.38. Sophomore Hayden Fisher was the first leg. He ran negative splits, running his last lap faster than his first.
The second leg was another sophomore, Zac Hansen. Hansen received the baton while in third place and held the position with third-leg junior Seth Gedeon. The anchor, junior Mikuya Ford, started his leg holding strong in third. Ford edged closer as the race went on, and when he hit 200m to the finish, he hit the gas and outkicked Little Miami and Mason to bring Bellbrook to victory.
Following the mile and 800m relays were the hurdles. Zac Hansen came right off his 4x800m and into the 110m hurdles. “I like the hurdles because of how short the race is but the proximity of the two events really makes it feel all that long,” Hansen said. Hansen pulled away to get 6th place in 16.77 seconds.
In the 100m dash, the men’s A-team had sophomore Makai Smith and freshman Vincent Epifano in the line-up and the men’s B-team with sophomore Gavin Thobe and freshman Josiah Hamilton. Smith ran an 11.54 and was 0.01 seconds away from scoring a point in the 100m. But he came back in the 200m later in the meet getting seventh with a time of 23.34.
The Men’s 4x200m relay came in 10th with a time of 1:39.58. In the 1600m open, two runners ran under five minutes in the mile, Mikuya Ford and freshman Caden Fromm. Ford placed 4th overall with a time of 4:44.64. Fromm ran a 0.01-second PR but still came in 9th place with a time of 4:58.41. “There’s some kind of curse where I PR and feel good, and then I find out I got 9th place,” Fromm said.
Seth Gedeon and junior Garrett Becker ran times of 5:02.80 and 5:29.94.
The curse of 9th place also fell upon the men’s 4x100m team. In the open 400m dash, Makai Smith and Hayden Fisher ran for the A-team, and junior Peter Guthrie and Josiah Wolverton ran for the B-team. Smith and Fisher ran times of 53.64 and 54.14. Guthrie ran a 57.99 and Wolverton a 59.42.
Zac Hansen (A-team), Josiah Hamilton (A-team), and junior John Lefeld (B-team) ran in the 300m Hurdles. Hansen ran a 44.61 and placed 5th. Hamilton ran a 46.16 and placed 10th. Lefeld placed 18th and ran a 51.82.
The open 800m was run by three athletes: Hayden Fisher, Mikuya Ford, and sophomore Tim Roush. Ford placed 8th with a 2:12.78, Fisher placed 16th with a 2:18.54, and Roush placed 20th with a 2:24.63.
The 3200m run saw Zach Shore, Mikuya Ford, and Harrison Panstingel compete. Of those three, Mikuya Ford was the only runner to score points and came in third with a time of 10:11.43. Shore ran a 10:49.27 and Panstingel ran an 11:43.48.
Normally following the 3200m would be the 4x400m relay but Little Miami puts on a throwers 4x100m relay, referred to by some as the “Fatman relay” or “Tanker relay.” Throwers, who normally are not in running events, run a 4x100m. It really was an interesting event to watch since these athletes who normally wouldn’t compete in a sprint run faster 100 meters than distance runners.
It’s very competitive because the team who gets first does not just win medals, they also receive a box of donuts and a large Meat Lover’s pizza.
The competition was fierce. Bellbrook started well with its race with junior Ben Roach maintaining third place for Bellbrook, and handing off to junior Justin Paul who dropped back to 4th place. Here was where the drama started to unfold: Paul handed off to junior Lincoln Warren who was able to catch up back and passed the baton to junior Jake Lopez.
Lopez could have won the race if not for a Middletown thrower cutting into his lane at the handoff. Lopez himself couldn’t have left the lane for risk of being disqualified, but this little error set Bellbrook’s team back a couple of seconds and the lead was too hard to overcome.
Coming right off the escapades of the 4x100m throwers relay was the Men’s 4x400m. Those competing were Hayden Fisher, Zander Pitman, Makai Smith, and Seth Gedeon. Bellbrook placed 4th in 3:40.62.
Competing in the Men’s Shot Put on the A team of Lincoln Warren and Ben Roach. Warren put the shot at 39’1.75”. Roach put a little further with 39’10.25”.
On the B team were Tommy Shore and senior Isaac Lees. Lees put 37’4” and Shore put 29’4”. Warren also threw discus for the A team along with Justin Paul. Warren fouled his throws, but Paul threw 102’5”.
On the B team discus lineup was sophomore Brock Fortman and Isaac Lees. Lees threw 98’5” and Fortman 78’11”. The hammer throwers included Warren and Jake Lopez on the A team and Isaac Lees on the B team. Warren threw 76’03”, Lees threw 77’05”, and Lopez threw 53’10”.
Pole Vault had three competitors, senior Cary Phillipson, along with sophomores Connor Spriggs and Olin Eppers. Phillipson and Spriggs both jumped for points with Phillipson jumping 13’6” and Spriggs vaulting 12’. Eppers jumped 10’, but that wasn’t the highlight of his night. Tragedy struck when he tore his labrum when trying to make the next height of 10’6”. He left the meet to seek medical attention on the advice of coach Crane, who has also experienced a labral tear.
In the men’s high jump, freshman Noah Barrios soared over the bar at 5’5” placing 8th and sophomore Riley Hodges cleared 5’2”.
The Long Jump had Vincent Epifano, Cary Phillipson, and junior Wesley Peters in the competition. Epifano leaped 18’7.25”, Phillipson measured 17’1”, and Peters edged out Philipson three inches jumping 17’4”.
Peters set a new school record in the triple jump with 34’9” and John Lefeld jumped 29’9.5” in the same event.
Despite a torn labrum and a cold rain halfway through the meet, Bellbrook’s Men’s track and field team performed exceptionally well.
The Golden Eagles compete at Fairmont High School on May 4-5 and have home meets for the SWBL on May 11 and 13. Bellbrook will host the district meet May 17 and 19.