Despite losing a state-champion hurdler and all-state sprinter to injury, the Saline girls track and field team refused to give up their hold on the regional championship trophy.
Senior Elianna Shwayder's final performance on the Saline High School track was a great one. She was regional champ in the 1600 and 3200, and she helped the 4-by-800 relay team to another championship. Senior Kennedy Beazley also went out in style. She won the 800 and helped the 4-by-800 and 4-by-400 relay teams to victory.
Coach Brian Boze said his team took care of business.
“We started with a lot of points in the field and the win in the 4-by-8, we broke the school record in the 4-by-200, we qualified for the 4-by-100 yet again, and rolled with the mile and 800. It was just a great day on the track,” Boze said.
Senior Alexa Ross, who qualified for the state meet in the 200 sprint and on three different relays, said the victory was important – especially for members of the class of 2014.
“It means the world to me. I've been doing this for a long time now, so ending on this note on this track – it really means a lot to me,” Ross said.
Saline held a just two-point advantage on Pioneer with two events to go. First the Hornets dominated the 3200 race. Shwayder won the event by nearly 20 seconds. After Dexter's Alison McLean crossed the finish line, Saline's Gloria Park, Gillian Walter, Hannah Fischer, Abby Rentschler, Lillie Phelps and Katie Fedoronko gave the Hornets a sweep of 3rd-through-8th place, clinching the regional title.
Hannah Cummings, Alexa Ross, Hailey Mayes and Kennedy Beazley iced the victory by winning the 4-by-400 relay in 3:59.93.
Saline's first victory of the day came in the 4-by-800 relay. Hannah Cummings, Shwayder, Park and Beazley won the event by nearly 30 seconds, finishing in 9:08.55. That time is also nearly 15 seconds faster than last week's time at the SEC meet.
The next victory came in the 1600-meter event, where Shwayder captured the regional for the second straight year. She was more than seven seconds faster (5:05.33) than Pioneer freshman Jacalyn Overdier.
Shwayder was happy to win the race, even if it was her last “mile” on the SHS track.
“It's a sad end – that racing on our home track is coming to a close,” said Shwayder, who will run at Harvard next year.
Shwayder said she's been a little frustrated by her inability to reach some of her personal goals this year. “But I'm mostly happy where I'm at, so I'll go to the state meet ready for blood,” she said.
She hopes to break school records at the state meet.
Gillian Walter (4th, 5:17), Hannah Fischer (5th, 5:20) and Abby Rentschler (6th, 5:23) also helped the Hornets accumulate points.
Kennedy Beazley motored to victory in the 800 meters (2:11.21). She built a substantial lead 200 meters into the race and never looked back. Sophomore Hannah Cummings was second (2:16.44).
Quenee' Dale came back early from a hamstring injury and tried to compete Friday. She ran in the preliminary hurdles event and then had the fastest time in the semifinals. But about 30 yards into the 110 hurdles finals, Dale re-injured her hamstring and left the race.
“She was able to run the times she needed. It was just a matter of whether or not she could survive the rounds. Had it been 75 (degrees) and not 55, it might have gone a lot better,” coach Boze said.
Shwayder said Dale's attempt to run said a lot about her character as a teammate.
“It shows her strength of character and desire to work for the team. At Saline, we're about the team. Quenee' is a true fighter,” Shwayder said. “Her leg just wasn't quite ready, which has to be disappointing for her, but fortunately she's going ot Penn State to continue her running career.”
Fellow senior Alexa Ross said the 4-by-200 relay dedicated their race to her. Ross, Mayes, Alana Hollis and Janell Green finished second in a school record 1:42.59.
“She went down right before our event. We dedicated that to her,” Ross said.
Saline settled for second to Pioneer. The 4-by-100 relay team of Green, Ross, Hollis and Lisa Gross was third in 49.49 seconds. All four Saline relay teams qualified for the state meet.
Ross, another senior competing in her final meet at Saline High School, was .07 seconds behind Lincoln's Savannah Roberson in the 200 dash. Sophomore Janell Green was fourth (26.05).
Senior Alana Hollis went out with a fifth place finish in the 100 dash (13:05).
Hailey Mayes was fifth in the 300 hurdles (47.55 seconds). Loviea Roe was 10th (49.77)
Lily Scheske was Saline's fastest in the 400 (1:01.32). Lisa Gross was 11th (1:02.99).
The Hornets' best performance in the field was from Wendy Szuminski who was second in pole vault (10-10). Alexandrea Haugen was ninth (9-06) and Scheske was 12 (9 feet). Kyra Ross was 11th in long jump (15-01.5) and Maddie Kieth was 13th (14-05.75).
Lauren Sayre was tied for fifth in high jump at 4-11. Szuminski was eighth (4-08) and Kyra Ross was 13th (4-08).
Erin Connor qualified for the state meet in the shot put. She finished third with a throw of 36-09.75. Amelia Wittig was sixth (31-11).
Wittig was fourth in the discus with a throw of 102-02. Connor was seventh (99-10).