WHEELING - While the 35th annual Dick Dei/Pepsi Track Classic may have only attracted 12 teams this spring, there was still plenty of good competition and a runaway winner in powerful Gahanna Lincoln High School.
Paced by sprinter Riak Reese, great showings in all five relay events and nationally ranked pole vaulted Jacob Blankenship, the Golden Lions captured their third team title in the past five years by easily outdistancing Watkins Memorial, 143-122, at Wheeling Park High School.
Coach Ed Rarey's Lincoln squad has won each of the last three events held in even number years while taking third last year and third in 2009.
Wheeling Park’s Cole Bertol and Brooke’s Nathan Morris compete in the 400 on Saturday.
Photo by Josh Strope
The host Patriots took third this time around with 87 points, Canon McMillan was fourth with 75, Claymont fifth at 40 and Shadyside, which brought only one athlete, took sixth with 20 points
But while Reese won both the 100 and 200-meter dashes and helped the Lions to a first-place finish in the 400-meter relay, it was Blankenship, a University of Tennessee recruit, who was turning heads.
Blankenship, who is one of the top pole vault specialists in the country and the defending Ohio Division I state champion at 17 feet, set not only the meet, but also the stadium record with a 16-8 vault.
It is his third title in as many years after taking sixth at Wheeling Park in his freshman campaign. Not only is he ranked nationally outdoors, he has recorded the second best indoor height in the United States this season.
The senior dandy soared 16-2 last season, 14-10 as a sophomore and 11-feet his freshman season.
Reese, meanwhile, took home the trophy for most points in the meet with 22.5. He scooted to victory in the 100 in 11.07 and claimed the 200 in 23.03. He also helped Lincoln to one of its three relay titles, leading off the 4X100, which finished in 44.31.
Lincoln also won the 800-meter relay (1:33.90) and the 1,600-meter relay (3:32.64) while taking second in the shuttles and third in the 3,200-meter relay. K.J. Jackson was the Lions' other individual champion, taking the 400-meter dash in 51.14.
Shadyside's Jake Dull was one of just three double-winners in the meet, skimming the 110-meter high hurdles in 15.44 and outlasting the rest of the field with a 41.16 to capture the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
The other two-time champion was Canon McMillan's Shawn Johnson, who took the high jump with a 6-4 leap before marking the sand at 20-11.5 to take the long jump.
Wheeling Park's Josh Garrett broke the tape in the 800-meter run in 2:06.61 and also anchored the Patriots' championship 3,200-meter baton-passing unit along with Michael Mauck, Maurice Miller and Zach Witsberger, which finished in 8:24.90.
The hosts were once again without the services of two-time state champion high jumper and University of Southern California recruit, Errin Baynes, who continues to nurse a knee injury.
Bellaire St. John's Matt Thomas was the only other local winner, edging Watkins Memorial's Michael McKean at the finish line to win the 1,600-meter run in 4:40.81.
Other individual champions included Watkins' Erich Vlaar in the 3,200 (9:46.64) and Nic Eader in the discus (137-8) along with Canon McMillan's Alec Rideout in the shot put (46-1.5). Watkins also won the shuttles in 1:02.98.