NEWARK — Through downpours, scattered showers and the sun trying to peek through, the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets track team battled at the Newark Invitational Saturday, picking up seven top-10 field event finishes.
“Weather impacts field events, sprinters and hurdlers more than it does our distance runners,” Mount Vernon coach Kathy Thayer said. “When it’s raining as it did on Saturday, I worry about field event implements being slippery and jumpers sliding on the long jump board or runway.”
One Jacket that did not allow the weather to affect him during his field event was Cory Berg.
“The rain didn’t affect me, it was just with it changing from rain to no rain, hot to cold, it’s just hard to get your body adjusted,” Berg said.
Berg cleared every height on his first attempt each time the bar rose until he cleared 6 feet 2 inches to secure the title. He opted to jump the bar three inches and cleared it again on the first try, before bumping it to 6 feet 7 inches, which would tie the meet record. He was close on all three attempts but was unable to complete a successful jump. Last year he set a season-best at Newark, clearing 6 feet 6 inches, and even though he cleared one inch lower this year, he hopes he can still build on it.
“Last year I peaked here, so I’m going to try to not have that happen again and hopefully shoot for 6-8, 6-9, if not higher this year,” Berg said. “I’m happy, but I really would have been happy with 6-7. Like I said, I can’t peak just yet. It has to be the postseason down the road.”
The Jacket boys also had two athletes place in the top-10 in pole vault. Connor Dailey snagged the bronze after clearing 11 feet, with Sam Phillips earning ninth with a 9-foot effort.
Delaney Short also had a solid day at pole vault on the girls’ side. Despite her hands slipping because of the wet conditions, she cleared 8 feet 6 inches to take third. In the long jump, she earned fifth with a jump of 14 feet 8 inches.
Freshman McKenna Brokaw had a strong showing in high jump, clearing 4 feet 8 inches to secure fourth, while Erika Conant cleared 4 feet 6 inches for ninth. Conant was also 11th in the pole vault (7 feet 6 inches).
“Field events are technical events. Hiring the right coaching staff to teach the technical components of each event is crucial to the success of the team,” Thayer said of the success of the Jackets in field events. “Athletes enjoy learning technique because they see the benefits in their performances and it’s exciting for them to learn how different movements and body positions impact that as well.”
The Jackets also had strong finishes on the track. Berg picked up another first-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 39.28 seconds. In the same event, Erich Rhodeback earned eighth (44.33). Rhodeback nabbed third in the 110-meter hurdles at 15.77 seconds.
In the sprints, Berg led the way at fifth in the 200 (23.51) and sixth in the 100 (11.53).
The Jacket boys finished eighth in the 16-team field with 40 team points. Saint Charles grabbed the top spot with 85 points, narrowly edging out Heath’s 84.5 points, while Canal Winchester finished third (74.5).
Brokaw had the best finish on the track for the Jacket girls with a fourth-place finish in the 200-meter dash, clocking a time of 28.72 seconds. Olivia Reddy finished eighth in the 800 (2:40.28) and Chloe Dailey grabbed eighth in the two-mile with a time of 13:17.51. Mount Vernon’s 3,200-meter relay team of Amanda Foos, Jozlyn Burky, Reddy and Dailey combined for a time of 11:41.97 to sneak into the top-10 and earn ninth.
Mount Vernon’s girls ended 12th in the team standings with 21.5 points. Olentangy Orange earned the team crown with 132 points, while Big Walnut was second with 80, and Thomas Worthington was third with 78.
The Jackets have a bit of time off before returning to action on the road against Ashland on April 9, starting at 4:30 p.m.
“The first couple of meets help coaches see how well athletes perform individually and as part of a group,” Thayer said. “The beginning of the season is the time to establish a positive learning environment and the importance of hard work during the week.”
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