Meet records, title streaks, star sprinter share top billing at Pruner Invite

Meet records, title streaks, star sprinter share top billing at Pruner Invite
Meet records, title streaks, star sprinter share top billing at Pruner Invite

OLIVESBURG — Rebekah Case wasn’t the only one flying high Friday night.

While the Lucas junior was setting a record in the pole vault at the 36th Forest Pruner Invitational, the host Crestview Cougars were getting records from two field event performers, South Central sprinter/jumper Angela Williams was winning four individual events and Ashland was enjoying a title sweep by its boys and girls for the second year in a row.

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Where to start? Why not Case, who was one of the last to finish the meet as the girls vault turned into a marathon event that ended at 9:15 pm, with temperatures falling faster than the old record of 10-8.

Case cleared 10-9 for the record, then 11 feet for a PR – her first time over 11 outdoors. She also took three cracks at 11-4. Had she been successful, she would have broken the school record of 11-3 that gave Angela Foss a state championship in 2005.

In addition to her gold medal, Case deserved another award for perseverance and patience as it seemingly took forever to trim the field of vaulters.

“You have to learn to stay warm and stay ready,” she said

Case has had plenty of practice. She’s competed on national stages in Virginia Beach and New York City and is a two-time state medalist – finishing sixth outdoors last season in Division III and ninth indoors this year.

Those experiences have been invaluable.

“It (keeps) your adrenaline down,” said Case, who placed 12th last summer in the Emerging Elite Division at the Nike Nationals in NYC. “You’ve done well at those meets, so you know you can come into invitations like this and do well. And it basically prepares you for more big meets.”

Making this invite so attractive to athletes from small schools like Lucas is getting the competitive push from bigger schools like Ashland and Medina Buckeye. The Ashland boys are seven-time defending Ohio Cardinal Conference champions and the girls are making noise of their own, having already been part of another title sweep, at the Madison Invitational, to open the season.

The Arrow girls won by a 127.12 to 113 margin over South Central and Williams, who won all three dashes and the long jump. Ashland’s boys, who ended Crestview’s nine-year title reign last year, scored 139 points for a championship repeat over Buckeye (118) and Crestview (112).

Coach Gail Walter’s girls were led by Aliviah Sauder. She won the 800 (2:36.57) and also ran on the winning 4×400 relay (2:25.15) and 4×800 relay (10:34.04). McKenzie Cool was also part of both quartets.

Coach Ryan Stackhouse’s boys had these champs – Jacob Holbrook in the 100 (11.25), Jayden Goings in the 110 high hurdles (15.24), Tyler Sauder in the 1600 (4:37.98) and Dakota Kruty in the long jump (19-9) . Goings was also runner-up in the 300 hurdles and Holbrook took second in the 200, while also anchoring the first place 4×100 (44.63).

It’s been an impressive two-week stretch for Holbrook. The Arrow junior was the 100 runner-up at the 92nd Mehock Relays with a PR of 10.82, behind only Walnut Ridge’s Zayvion Mallory (10.71) and ahead of Galion’s Jacob Chambers, who had the top prelim time heading into the finals after winning four events the week before at the Lexington Invite.

This time around, Holbrook held off Plymouth’s Riley Ramey, a two-time state medalist in 2023, for the 100 title.

If Ashland is to hold off Mehock champ Lex for his eighth straight OCC crown in three weeks, Holbrook will need to play an instrumental role.

“Lexington obviously has its distance (races) and field events,” Holbrook said. “We just have to stay in our lane, not let it affect us, and do what we do in the conference every year.”

Ramey came back to beat Holbrook in the 200 by a 22.95 to 23.27 margin having just been cleared to run on Tuesday after having a tooth pulled last week. The day before the extraction he broke a 50-year-old school record in the 400 (51.1) – the only time he has run the metric quartermile this season.

“I feel like my stamina is a little better in the 200 (than the 100),” Ramey said about turning the tables on Holbrook. “He’s a great athlete, a great competitor. Finishing .01 behind him makes me feel like I can do something in the 100 on a good day.”

Crestview junior Logan Friges, the only holdover from last year’s state champion 4×4 team (Malachi Spoerr was lost to a season-ending injury), repeated as 400 champ Friday (51.53) and anchored the first place 4×8 (8:26.50). He used the 400 as a speed workout with his eyes set on winning a state title in the 800 after finishing sixth at state last year.

“If you can run fast and hold that speed, that’s what wins races,” Friges said. “It’s real easy to go from being a distance runner to sprinter, but it’s super hard for a sprinter to go up in distance. So when you go down, it’s a cakewalk. Get out fast, ride out the back (stretch) and finish it off.

“Sure, it’s fun winning medals, but this is all preparation (for the end of the season). As long as I’m consistent, and not getting worse, I’m fine. I have my trust in coach (Tim Kuhn). “He knows what he’s doing.”

Kuhn’s sophomore son Liam cleared 14 feet in the pole vault to tie the meet record set last year by former teammate Shawn Bailey. Both of them went on to clear 14-2 at state, with Bailey finishing fifth on fewer misses and Kuhn taking sixth.

“I texted (Bailey),” Kuhn said about letting him know he’s no longer sole owner of the meet record. “He said ‘If you don’t get that record in the next couple of years, I’m going to spike your poles.’

“My goal is 15 (feet) at state, maybe even 15-6. It’s a technique thing. My coach says I need to (get) back on the pole more. If I rock back more and get more invested, I could probably clear 14-6 in no time, maybe even 15-0.”

A week removed from winning a Mehock title in the disc (172-0), Bolin swept the throws with a toss of 173-1 in the disc and 54-6.25 in the shot. He went to state in both two years ago as a sophomore, but missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

Friday was the fourth straight meet Bolin has been out over 170 feet in the discus. He threw his PR – 180 feet, best in DIII this season – in a tri-meet on Tuesday.

“It feels great to be out here,” Bolin said. “All glory to God to be out here competing again, just doing what I love with all my friends.”

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