Erick Starkey/News Centerburg’s Makenna Hennell, front, takes off after receiving the baton from Avery Tucker during the 4x800 relay Friday at the Fredericktown Invitational. The pair, along with Abigail Dickhof and Aeryn Walters, won the event in 10:35.42.
Erick Starkey/News Mount Vernon’s Erich Rhodeback gets over the final hurdle during his prelim round of the 110-meter hurdles. Rhodeback finished second in the finals with a personal best time of 15.09 seconds.

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FREDERICKTOWN — The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets fought off the rain, wind and 11 other teams Friday at the Fredericktown Invitational to run away with the team title by nearly 50 points.

“The wind was a little strong so I think they had a little trouble keeping the bar up there. I just had to wait for the wind to die down before I ran,” Mount Vernon pole vaulter Connor Dailey said. “The rain was a little tricky. We had to stop for a while and I had to cover my pole up so it didn’t get wet and my hands didn’t slip. Other than that, we had some good moments where the sun was shining and the rain died down.”

Mount Vernon led the way with 143 points, while host Fredericktown turned in 95. Clear Fork rounded out the top three at 88.5. East Knox (82) and Highland (75) finished in fourth and fifth, respectively, while Centerburg (37) ended seventh and Danville (6) was 12th.

In the field events, the Jackets picked up a pair of wins and three second-place finishes. Cory Berg matched his career best in the high jump, clearing 6-feet-6, just edging out teammate Sam Bethea (6-4). Bethea picked up a gold of his own in the long jump (21-10.5) after clearing more than three feet better than second place. In the discus, Easton Groom (122-5) and Alan Kramer (115-10) finished second and third, respectively. Mount Vernon’s Dailey was the final Jacket boy to finish in the top-three in the field events, clearing 12-0 in the pole vault to earn second.

“I just try to really be relaxed and not overthink it too much,” Dailey said. “If you’re thinking about the elements and trying to combine that with how you’re vaulting, sometimes it’ll get to me.”

Bethea and Berg’s success carried over to the track. Berg won the 400-meter dash (50.04) and the 200 (22.37), while Bethea grabbed first in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.53. Erich Rhodeback turned in a personal best in the same event, grabbing second in 15.09. He missed just more than a week due to a rolled ankle and returned to the track Friday for a PR.

“I was rested, I think, and I was just really ready for this meet,” Rhodeback said. “I was glad to be back and I was hyped for this.”

Rhodeback also grabbed the top spot in the 300 hurdles with a time of 42.95.

Distance events again led the charge for the Fredericktown boys. Paden Spencer won the 1,600 by more than 11 seconds, turning in a time of 4:40.98. Connor Riley finished first in the two-mile at 10:14.27, more than 20 seconds faster than second. Dakota Smith finished second in the 800 (2:10.67).

The Freddies’ 4×400 had the best finish among the relay teams, with Chance Campbell, Dakota Smith, Colton Riel and Spencer combining to win the event in 3:42.87. The 4×200 relay team of Campbell, Kailin Horlacher, Riel and Smith earned second in 1:39.22.

East Knox held its own in the distance events. Nathan Whitney, Dawson Moreland, Dillon Moreland and Cody Cockrell combined for a time of 9:17.52 in the 4×800 to win the race. Whitney also won the 800 with a time of 2:09.64.

Highland’s boys were again well represented in the shorter distances. Brock Veley finished first in the 100 (10.75), just ahead of teammate Jack Weaver (10.94). The pair finished second and third in the 200, with Weaver in the silver position at 22.46 and Veley behind at 23.22. Weaver and Veley linked up with Chase Carpenter and Landyn Albanese to grab the top spot in the 4×100 (44.51).

Landon Remmert earned second in the 300 hurdles for the Scots with a time of 44.05.

Ben Reigel had the best finish for the Trojan boys, standing atop the podium in the shot put with a throw of 40-5.

In the girls’ team race, Clear Fork took home the trophy with 94.5 points. Loudonville was just behind at 91 points and Mount Vernon was third with 85. Fredericktown took fifth (73.5), Highland sixth (57), East Knox seventh (50), Centerburg eighth (43) and Danville ninth (39).

Abba Heironimos led the Jackets to their lone win on the day, clearing 14-8 in the long jump to finish first. Sarah Day earned second in the 100 hurdles (17.09) and the team of Abby Adu, Alexis Strong, Lexi Rapp and Day earned the silver in the 4×200 (1:55.74).

Fredericktown picked up a bulk of it’s points in the relays, winning two and finishing second in the other two. Paige Oswalt, Audrey Bouton, Katerina Hamilton and Leona Smith smoked the competition by more than two seconds to take first in the 4×100 (53.40) and the same foursome won by a similar margin in the 4×200 (1:53.17). Emma Linhares, Natalie VanMeter, Macy Thorne and Abby Wilson finished second in the 4×800 (11:18.90). Linhares was joined by Bouton, Sadie Sanders and Nichole Groseclose for the second-place time of 4:34.21 in the 4×400.

Individually, Miranda Baker earned second in the 3,200 (13:07.78) and Celeste Swihart cleared 8-6 in the pole vault to finish second.

Emma Hinkle was the lone Scot to place in the top-two, earning second in the long jump after clearing 14-3 1/2.

Emily Opfer picked up a pair of silvers for the Bulldogs, earning second in the 300 hurdles (53.18) and the 200 (27.58).

The Centerburg girls did well in the two longer relays, winning both. Aeryn Walters, MaKenna Hennell, Abigail Dickhof and Avery Tucker raced the 4×400 and won in 4:28.79. The trio of Dickhof, Tucker and Hennell set up Walters for a great finish. The first three had built a substantial lead before even handing off the baton to the anchor.

“When I saw they pulled ahead, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Walters said. “First, I was really proud of them, but then I was like, ‘I have to keep up with that.’ I felt instantly all this pressure on me, but I was like, ‘You know what, I have to keep it. It’s not just me, but it’s everybody else.”

Walters took the baton and battled through the wind to finish the race for the Trojans in a time of 10:35.42.

“You really have to know when to go and when to save yourself a little bit,” Walters said. “Mostly, I just block everything out. In a relay, it’s not just you, it’s your team as well, so you’ve got to push for them.”

Tucker also won the 400 in 1:04.35.

The Blue Devil girls picked up a pair of first-place finishes. Makayla Brown won the shot put (34-4 1/2), with a throw nearly three feet past her competition. Alenah Boeshart also won the 100 (13.04).


Erick Starkey: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @mvnstarkey




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