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Written By StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Thursday, May 3, 2018

Lucas Howett leads Sam Lechlitner in the 3200-meter run in an NLC three-way boys track meet at Warsaw Wednesday. (Photos by James Costello)

WARSAW — Warsaw boys track coach Matt Thacker wasn’t impressed with his upperclassmen’s performance on Senior Night as the Tigers fell 69-63 to visiting Plymouth but managed to salvage a split with an 83-49 win over NorthWood Wednesday.

When the Northern Lakes Conference three-way — which was delayed by lightning before competition ever began and featured on-and-off rain at Fisher Field — was all over, the Pilgrims celebrated a narrow win at the home of their arch-rivals, and Thacker just tipped a hat to them. But he thought his older athletes could’ve done more, too.

“Plymouth ran a heck of a meet. That’s big for them,” said the Warsaw skipper. “We’ve just got to grow up, bottom line. We’ve got to get tougher. We’ve got older guys that can’t get it done for us, and they’ve either got to step up and get it done or we’re going to continue to go with the young guys. If that happens, we’ll keep struggling.”

A trio of senior distance runners did get it done for Warsaw, however.

Justin Fleming took top honors in the mile run with a 4:35 stop ahead of classmate Taylor Mills’ second-place time of 4:45, the duo traded places in the 800 with respective times of 2:04.87 and 2:05.31, and Lucas Howett won the two-mile with a time of 10:13.35. Freshman Sam Lechlitner gave Warsaw a strong third-place finish in the 3200 with a personal-best time of 10:23.24, senior Xavi Ramirez finished third in the 1600 behind Fleming and Mills, and Ramirez, Lechlitner, Tanner Stiver and Nolan Groninger combined to win the 3200-meter relay in 8:42.4, a full 14 seconds faster than NorthWood’s second-place time of 8:56.34.

“Lucas on Senior Night did what he was supposed to do. He helped Sam, a freshman, have an 18-second PR, and that’s huge,” said Thacker of his two-mile crew. “That’s what a senior is supposed to do. He helped lead; he helped bring a younger kid along. Sam has got a bright future, but Lucas Howett, we only have one of him. If we had more of him and Justin Fleming, we’d be alright.”

Joel Light easily clears his mark in the pole vault.

The Tigers put on another clinic in the pole vault, where Nick Bazzoni and Hunter Metzger both cleared 13 feet for first and second, respectively, Joel Light finished third with an 11-foot clearance, and Jack May made 10 feet as the home team swept the top four spots in the event. Senior John Svinarich won both throwing events with a 146’ toss in the discus and a 49’11” measurement in the shot put. Nick Miller and Jacob Hawn placed third and fourth for Warsaw in the disc.

While the Tigers’ strengths were in the distance races and the throws, NorthWood’s best talents were on display in the sprints at Wednesday’s meet.

Terrell Pratcher and Brayton Yoder finished one-two in both the 100-meter and the 200-meter dash with respective times of 11.49 and 11.54 seconds in the 100 and 22.85 and 23.15 seconds in the 200. The duo also combined with Landon Parker and Brayton Yoder to take top honors in the 4×100 relay with a winning stop of 43.6.

Brayton Yoder approaches the finish line in the 4×100 Wednesday.

“That’s been our strength this year, is our 100, 200 and our 4×1,” explained NorthWood coach Mark Beemiller. “We’re improving greatly in other areas. The mile is coming along; I’ve got young throwers coming along.”

The Panthers didn’t score a whole lot of points anywhere besides the sprints, however, although Jason Borkholder did finish second in the long jump with a 19’06” measurement behind a 21’03.25” distance from Plymouth’s Nate Patterson, who also cleared 7 feet in the high jump and narrowly missed a state-record attempt of 7’3.5” in Warsaw.

With Wednesday’s two losses, NorthWood closes out NLC competition with just one win and one tie. They’ll have the chance to make up some ground at next Tuesday’s conference championship meet at Goshen, though, and Beemiller is looking forward to it.

“What’s nice is we get an opportunity Tuesday to go into Goshen for the NLC meet and improve our performance,” he said.

Posted In: Boy's Sports > Track and Field