McDERMOTT —The moment the Mohawks crossed the finish for the boys 4x400m relay, the final event of the annual Southern Ohio Conference track and field meet on Thursday night, Northwest’s Dave Frantz first got the water cooler bath —followed by bear hugs of congratulations.
There was also the attempt at a victory lap with Frantz high atop his Mohawks’ shoulders, which about halfway along — became an individual 300m sprint for Frantz himself.
Asked about being out of breath, but feeling fine, Frantz finally could celebrate, even exhale, and take in his final —and second consecutive championship —SOC meet.
On his and Northwest’s home turf no less of Roy Rogers Field, for the Mohawks hosted both last season’s and this season’s SOC track and field championships.
“Yes, I am, but I feel good. The running about killed this old man, but no, it was great,” said Frantz, with a laugh.
Frantz, for 34 springs as the Northwest boys track and field coach and for 20 years as the school’s athletic director, is retiring after this season —and so for Thursday night he goes out coaching the SOC II conference champion for back-to-back years.
The Mohawk men hit for 145 team points, which was the overall and SOC II’s highest point total for the boys.
The distance-oriented Mohawks, in what boiled down to points watch with Waverly, went champion and runner-up in the 800m run with seniors Mason Breech and Kailan Marshall respectively—after Marshall won the 3,200m run on Tuesday.
Breech and Marshall also placed second and third in the 1,600m run on Thursday —as the senior tandem book-ended legs of the meet’s opening event, their speciality of the 4x800m relay.
Breech, who anchored the Mohawks’ victorious 4x400m relay unit, ran the opening leg on Tuesday for that strong 4×800 squad —with junior Gabe Robinson running second and sophomore Caleb Lewis running third.
Marshall made up the anchor, and the Mohawks set the two-day meet tone by winning the 4x800m by a razor-thin four seconds (8:38) over the runner-up Tigers (8:42).
Frantz, who repeated as SOC II Coach of the Year, said his Mohawks relished in the under-the-radar role at this season’s meet —after last season’s storied campaign, which was the most successful in school history.
Those Mohawks —with heavy hitters Landon Smith, Josh Shope, Gabe Morrell and even Marshall under former cross country coach and track distance coach Adam Schroeder — did what was expected.
Marshall is the main Mohawk this season, as he and Breech led the charge in Roy Rogers Country last week — while many Mohawks picked up points everywhere else.
Gavin Defoe, Levi Bruch and senior Federico Lentini made up the three legs prior to Breech in the 4x400m.
“I just told Kailan Marshall that in 34 years of coaching, he is one of the best leaders I’ve been around, and I’ve been around a lot of great kids. What makes this special is that this is a bunch of boys, I don’t know if everybody believed in them, but these kids believed in themselves. They stepped up. They knew we were underdogs all year. But our seniors led us, our underclassmen stepped up, these kids are just the hardest-working bunch. It wasn’t expected out of them, but they wanted to prove everybody wrong. This is all about the kids stepping up and doing a great job,” said Frantz. “This is not anything about me or anything else. “My kids are going out as winners. This is about them. I’m going out as a proud coach of kids that work their butts off. I’m proud of them. Winning the SOC is just icing on the cake.”
But Frantz — due to lower depth this year — did have to shuffle some decks, and play mix and match, with some of his athletes as far as events.
Some Mohawks competed in four events, and did so with less time in between.
“We did a lot of switching around in spots tonight, taking a gamble that it would pay off. Kids stepped up where they needed to. This was a total team effort. I think we scored in every event,” said the coach. “You can’t say enough about kids stepping up and cheering each other on. Kept fighting and fighting.”
The Mohawks also caught a break in the 110m high hurdles, when Waverly senior and event favorite Cai Marquez was disqualified following the first running of the fastest heat.
Marquez came back to win the 300m hurdles, while Waverly fellow seniors Caleb Boyer (200m dash) and Aidan Kelley (400m dash) and junior Mitch Green (1,600m run) also claimed championships for the 123-point Tigers.
Wheelersburg was third overall on the boys and SOC II side with 87 points —as the Pirates posted a victory in the 4x100m relay (juniors Eric Lattimore and Ethan Glover, sophomore Eli Jones and senior Casey Doerr).
Minford muscled for 78-and-a-half points, in which Falcon junior Luke Rader won the 110m hurdles and 100m dash —and Tuesday’s long jump with a leap of 20 feet and 11 inches.
Valley (74.5), which finished fifth and exactly four full points behind the Falcons —forged a second straight SOC I championship, with Jason Fell once again earning the small-school division Coach of the Year.
The Indians’ wins were senior Bryce Stuart in the high jump, and junior Justin Moore sweeping the shot put and discus throw.
Rader for the SOC II and Moore for the SOC I were the boys individual meet medalists.
West won the 4x200m relay —with an all-underclassmen quartet of freshman Scottie Simmons, juniors Alex Blevins and Ryan Sissel, and sophomore anchor Jeffery Bishop.
On the girls side, Wheelersburg won the girls team title over Waverly — with 140 Lady Pirates’ points, compared to 131 for the Lady Tigers.
It is the Lady Pirates’ fifth consecutive SOC II championship (2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022) —which likely would have been a sixth had there been a season in 2020.
Ryan Willis was the SOC II Coach of the Year, as the Lady Pirates put together important championships and runners-up in the Tuesday throwing events —both shot put and discus throw.
In the disc, seniors Nalah Kirkendall and Karley Kouns went 1-2, followed by Kouns and freshman Amber Blevins being the top two in the shot.
Another Lady Pirate freshman, Gracie Perkins, picked up the high jump championship —while Waverly’s only field event champion was senior Jenna Thompson in the long jump.
The Lady Pirates also dominated the sprints and sprint relays —with sophomore Bella Miller sweeping the 100m and 200m dashes, and the 4x200m and 4x100m threesome of the anchor Miller, fellow sophomore Maddison Kotcamp and junior Grace Charles sprinting to victory.
Josie Nchinda was the second leg for the 4x200m, while Paisley French filled the second spot in the 4x100m.
The Lady Tigers’ other triumphs were sweeps by senior Olivia Cisco in the 1,600m and 3,200m runs, and by fellow senior Delaney Tackett in the 400m dash.
Cisco went for the distance sweep in the 800m run, but a great race in two-and-a-half minutes by South Webster freshman Marley Kreischer kept that from happening.
Kreischer, of the SOC I champion Lady Jeeps and the small-school girls meet medalist, also ran the opening leg for South Webster’s winning 4x800m relay team —which also included fellow freshmen Kate Mantell and Alyssa Yates and sophomore anchor Alivia Hanes.
The Lady Jeeps, under SOC I COY Josh Horner, had 54 points for fourth place.
Other girls winners included Northwest senior Ava Jenkins in the 300m hurdles, Notre Dame junior Charlee Lansing in the 100m hurdles, and Eastern’s 4x400m relay quartet (Addison Cochenour, Kiley Strong, Audrey Nolan and Abby Cochenour).
The Lady Mohawks finished third with 59 points, while Notre Dame and Eastern ended up tied for fifth with 46 apiece.
A complete list of results can be found at www.baumspage.com.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved