Outdoor opener goes well for track teams

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By Andrew Harner

LITCHFIELD – Both the Vandalia boys and girls track teams earned three first-place finishes at their first outdoor meet of the season on Tuesday.

Senior Quenten Austin won both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles, and junior Sierah Ruffner won the high jump and was part of two winning relays teams to lead the way for each team.

By the end, the boys placed third and the girls took fourth, leaving both girls coach Gena Nance and boys coach Jane Bell satisfied.

“It went great,” Nance said. “We had some good efforts and performances, but it’s March, and we’re not looking to break school records yet.”

Said Bell, “It was a good start. We’re still trying to find the right places for the young people, but the freshman need to realize they are running against juniors and seniors and not get discouraged.”

Two of the biggest surprises at the meet were a pair of girls relay teams and the performance of freshman Ben Strobel in the mile run.

Strobel was told prior to the race that the top six runners placed, but after the first lap, he was in seventh place.

On each of the final three laps, however, he passed at least one runner and ended up in second place with a time of 5:23.

“He did a great job of being a competitor,” Bell said. “I loved seeing that.”

For the girls, the 4X100-meter relay team of freshmen Johanna Walton, Jessica Booker and Ali Sasse, and Ruffner placed first with a time of 56.9 seconds.

The 4X200-meter relay team of Booker, Sasse, Ruffner and sophomore Randi Evans also took first in 1:59.3.

“The handoffs were really good today,” Nance said. “They just looked fast. We have had some tough workouts, and I was very impressed with those two relays.”

Other top performances for the girls were a second-place finish from Iris Daiber in the long jump, a fourth-place finish from Austyn Krueger in the shot put and a fifth-place finish from Krissy Connell in the 400-meter dash.

Junior Wade Cowger picked up the boys’ other first-place finish, winning the 800-meter run in 2:09.7.

Ryan Ambuehl, a junior, took second place in the triple jump, with a leap of 40 feet, 2 ¾ inches, and the 110-meter hurdles (15.9 seconds).

Freshman Robby Lott and junior Zach Jackson each cleared 9 feet in the pole vault to secure Vandalia’s first points in the event in many years.

Both track teams travel to Flora for a meet on Friday before hosting the first meet at home next Thursday.

Boys Results
First-place finishers
•Austin, 110-meter hurdles, :15.5
•Austin, 300-meter hurdles, :42
•Cowger, 800-meter run, 2:09.7
Second-place finishers
•Ambuehl, triple jump, 40 feet, 2 ¾ inches
•Ambuehl, 110-meter hurdles, :15.9
•Strobel, 1,600-meter run, 5:23
Third-place finishers
•Ambuehl, 400-meter dash, :54.86
•Lott, pole vault, 9 feet
•Luke Hollinshead, Gage Miles, Dalton Waschle, Codie Jackson, 4X200-meter relay, 2:00
•Cowger, Dalton Smith, Austin, Ambuehl, 4X400-meter relay, 3:55.1
Fourth-place finishers
•Z. Jackson, pole vault, 9 feet
•Smith, long jump, 18 feet, 6 ¼ inches
•Blake Swofford, Lott, Hollinshead, Cowger, 4X100-meter relay, :50.7
•C. Jackson, Blake Hankins, Z. Jackson, Strobel, 4X800-meter relay, 10:42.8
Fifth-place finishers
•Z. Jackson, triple jump, 34 feet, 3 ½ inches
•Smith, 200-meter dash, :24.73
Team scores
•Litchfield, 168
•Gillespie, 112
•Vandalia, 96
•Metro-East Lutheran, 79
•Mt. Olive, 54
•Marquette, 33

Girls Results
First-place finishers
•Ruffner, high jump, 5 feet
•Walton, Ruffner, Booker, Sasse, 4X100-meter relay, :56.9
•Booker, Sasse, Ruffner, Evans, 4X200-meter relay, 1:59.3
Second-place finisher
•Daiber, long jump, 13 feet, 9 ½ inches
Third-place finishers
•Connell, 28 feet, 1 ¾ inches
•Krueger, 800-meter run, 2:50.4
•Sasse, 200-meter dash, :29.12
•Brittany Cook, Daiber, Connell, Kendall Leander, 4X800-meter relay, 11:48.4
Fourth-place finishers
•Krueger, 300-meter hurdles, :58.9
•Krueger, shot put, 25 feet, 7 ½ inches
•Walton, 100-meter dash, :14.57
•Walton, high jump, 4 feet, 8 inches
•Leader, Cook, Krueger, Walton, 4X400-meter dash, 5:11.17
Fifth-place finishers
•Booker, 200-meter dash, :30.81
•Connell, 400-meter dash, 1:13.3
•Evans, 100-meter hurdles
•Makenzie Roberts, 3,200-meter run, 16:31.3
Team scores
•Gillespie, 110
•Metro-East Lutheran, 99
•Litchfield, 86
•Vandalia, 60
•Marquette, 8