During the first meet of the season, runners, jumpers and throwers aren't necessarily out to set lifetime bests, but there were some impressive performances nonetheless at last Saturday's 22nd annual Kurt Frankel Wolverine Invite at West Geauga High School.
While the Mentor girls track and field team finished first with 108 1/3 points, Kenston finished fourth with 62 points, and West Geauga was seventh with 56 points in the 11-team competition.
Leading the home Lady Wolverines, Chantel Richardson won the long jump in 17 feet, 2 1/4 inches. She also took second in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.94, although she had the fastest time of the day during her preliminary race, when she ran a 15.09.
"I'm just thankful it's not cold," Richardson said. "I'm fine with where things are right now. It's just move on. This is the first meet. You progress, and then you go on to the next meet and then progress a little more, and so, by the time districts come, I should be where I want to be."
As a sophomore last season, Richardson won the 100 hurdles at the Division I state meet with a 14.39, which edged her nearest opponent by 0.03 second. She placed 13th overall in the long jump at 17 feet.
"Everything felt OK today," Richardson said. "My hurdles was not my best, but it's just the beginning. As far as the race goes, it just felt really good to get back to the 100s. They're a lot nicer than the 60s during indoor."
Right behind Richardson in the hurdles was her teammate Tori Sargent, who placed third with a 16.98.
West Geauga's Lindsay Visner, a senior, finished as runner-up in the high jump after clearing 5 feet, 3 inches. That bested her ninth-place regional performance of 5 feet, 2 inches last year.
Also placing third for the Lady Wolverines, Jessi Genske threw the shot put 34 feet, 3 inches.
Meanwhile, Kenston had a pair of first-place finishes, and Alexis Taylor, a junior, was a part of both of them.
Starting of the meet, the Lady Bombers won the four-by-800 relay in 10:10.54 with a team of Lindsey Clasen, Allison Porter, Olivia Latimer and Taylor. That effort was good enough for the eighth fastest time in Kenston's all-time top-10 records.
Taylor also won 1,600 run with a 5:23.64, which is fourth on Kenston's all-time list. In that race, she trailed Chardon's Corinne Kule and Mentor's Blake Lewis until the final lap.
At the 300 mark, Lewis appeared to make her move and started to pull away. That's when Taylor went into pursuit, passing Kule and then running down and passing Lewis at the 100 mark and sprinting first across the finish line.
"I just wanted to stay in that lead pack and match up. I just wanted to stay behind them and push until the end and take the ride," Taylor said. "In the last 100, that's when I was like I've got this. I was just so psyched, and I just sped up and was like let's just finish this race. You're almost done and you're so close and just leave it all out on the track."
While she won the 1,600 and was one of Kenston's fastest runners in school history during just the first meet of the season, Taylor said the 800 is what she sees herself running at states by the end of the season.
"I fully want to go to states this year, and I want to drop my time in the 800 especially," she said. "The 800 is my goal this year. I ran the four-by-800 today and just ran the mile for some distance. I actually enjoy the mile as well, but the 800 is something I'm focusing on right now. A 2:14 is what I'm thinking about right now."
The Lady Bombers also had two third-place finishes at the invite with Liz Kantra clocking a 51.57 in the 300 hurdles and a four-by-200 relay team of Sargent, Hailee Brown, Visner and Rachael Brinning clocking a 1:50.87.
Kenston competes next at 10 a.m. March 31 at the Crestwood Invite in Mantua, while West Geauga competes next at 4:30 p.m. April 3 at Perry during a tri-meet with Perry and Chagrin Falls.