BUCYRUS - Saturday's 3,200 race at the Division III district meet in Bucyrus was decided by willpower. Or more specifically, Willman-power.
Seneca East's Jason Willman spent the majority of the race in a pack, a little bit behind race leader and fellow Tiger Jared Stockmaster. Willman said after the race he was not sure how he'd feel, just getting over being sick.
Turns out he felt pretty good.
PHOTO BY TONY MALUSO
Seneca East’s Jason Willman (middle) races with the pack early in the 3,200 at the Division III district track meet Saturday in Bucyrus.
The final two laps, Willman kicked it into high gear, making his way to the front of the pack. He crossed the finish line four seconds clear of Stockmaster for a 1-2 Seneca East finish, sending both to next week's regional meet in Tiffin.
Willman finished in 9:55.79, Stockmaster in 9:59.94.
"Last week I had three races, as the races went on, I kind of didn't do so well," Willman said. "I've been sick the past two weeks and I wasn't really sure how today was going to go. I started out the first few laps, second or third place, where I need to be to finish. I wanted to feel out the race, feel out the pace, see how I was feeling. Since I was only racing one race today, I thought I was going to feel a little better. 'Bout halfway through, I was still feeling pretty good so I knew I wanted to see where I could finish, try to see if I could win it. I ended up finishing better than I thought I would today because of my illness."
Willman's title was the second district title for the Tigers on the weekend. Zach Gregg won the pole vault on the meet's first day Thursday.
Seneca East took third in the team standings with 94 points, behind only Colonel Crawford (123) and Ashland Crestview (107).
Willman was a regional champion a year ago in the 1,600 and 3,200, but this year he's focusing on doing as well as he can in one race.
"I haven't been having the best season ever this year," Willman said. "We wanted to kind of focus, put all my eggs in one basket, make sure I got a trip to at least regionals."
He said it's a benefit having another high quality runner like Stockmaster running along side him to give him a push.
"It really helps having both of us in one event," Willman said. "When we both line up there we know where we both need to be. We can push each other. we can kind of work together during a race and it really helps having him to practice with. He pushes me and I push him. We work really well together."
Also qualifying to regionals for Seneca East is Ben Frankart, who took third in the 110 hurdles (16.73) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (42.42). Wes Pipher earned a second-place finish in the 1,600 (4:38.39). Stockmaster just missed out on a second regional trip, taking fifth in the 1,600 (4:50.12).
The Tiger 4x100 team of Isaac Phillips, Brayden Walker, Gregg and Adam Hall is regional bound after taking third (45.31). Walker also was an individual qualifier taking fourth in the high jump (6-0).
The day was a struggle for Mohawk's boys, at least until the meet's final event. The first and only regional qualifier for the boys came from the team of Austin Eaton, Brandon Emshoff, Mitch Parker and Trevor Zender, which took fourth in the 4x400 (3:36.82).
"Overall I thought it was a tough day for our boys," Mohawk coach Brock Cleveland said. "I thought we ran well. We were just on the outside looking in a couple times but the boys pulled it out there and made it to the regionals in the 4x4. Some of these things that we're extending life in, we need to come back and have a good week at practice and hopefully things go well next week.
"I think they finished fifth in the 4x2. I thought we had a really good shot to get out in that. We ran our season-best by over a second, and somebody else did too. I think we got beat by three-hundreths of a second. So it (stinks) to not make it like that, but they came back and our anchor did his job and finished the race for them. Brandon ran a heck of a race there and you have to somebody with a big heart there at the end, and that's what he does. He finished the job, so I was real proud of the effort."
Mohawk's 4x200 team finished in 1:35.47, edged out by Wynford for the final qualifying spot.
Also scoring for Warriors was Mitch Parker taking fifth in the 800 (2:05.58), Logan Stillberger taking seventh in the 1,600 (4:52.75), Emshoff added an eighth-place finish in the 100 (12.01), The 4x100 team took seventh (46.93) and Zender was eighth in the 400 (55.62).
For Seneca East, Hunter Saylors took sixth in the 110 hurdles (17.05) and seventh in the 300 hurdles (44.69). Adam Hall finished seventh in the 100 (11.99), the 4x200 team took seventh (1:37.44), Walker added a sixth place finish in the 200 (24.02) and Owen Best finished fifth in the discus (138-6)
Buckeye Central got a regional qualifier in Lane Sautter who finished third in the discus with a toss of 144-3. Also for the Bucks, Graham Lewis was sixth in the 16,00 (4:51.75). Stone Wurm finished eighth in the 700 (2:06.36), the 4x400 team finished sixth (3:39.59).