By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
It takes more than one or two superior individual performances to win an invitational or relay track meet. A number of athletes in a wide range of events have to contribute in big ways.
Several area teams had just those kinds of performances at the Perry Relays on Saturday at Alumni Stadium.
“We were really able to get a team effort,” Edgewood coach Jim Sanchez said. “It was a true team effort. We got points from almost every different aspect — running and throwing, sprinting and distance. We’re a well-rounded team. We displayed that today.”
“To be honest, it was a little bit of what everybody did — the field events, the sprinters and a little bit of distance,” Jefferson coach T.J. Furman said. “It was a good effort. It shows the kind of guys we have. We have guys who do a bunch of different things.”
Geneva won the A Division with 100 points, outdistancing Riverside’s 94 points.
“We nickled and dimed them,” Geneva coach Bob Lundin said. “We took a lot of seconds and thirds. Austin Clutter (in the 200) and our pole vaulters (Joey Joy and Zach Watts) were the only ones to win anything today.
“We’re not loaded with stars. We have a bunch of blue-collar guys. I’m not very easily shocked, but I was shocked. (The boys) were so excited. That’s the first time we’ve won the Perry Relays in many, many years.”
Madison was third with 92 points.
“That was a really close one,” Madison coach Jeremy Verdi said. “We’ve been getting kids back from injury and eligibility issues. We were excited to have a full team out there. It was snowy when we got there. The kids handled the day well. All of the athletes did. It was the longest meet I’ve been associated with.”
“Scoring in everything is what we’re doing right now. We’re able to make every race count.”
The Warriors claimed the B Division with 127 points, topping Jefferson’s 114.
“Getting on the bus, were able to make snowballs,” Sanchez said. “It wasn’t a good sign. (Edgewood girls coach Beth) Simpson said the way to make a day like this worthwhile is to go out and win. That’s what we did.
“The reason for that was our depth. We have 54 boys. When you’re over 50 boys, you can utilize a lot of guys to fill all of the events. It’s kind of a hybrid meet. There were a lot of events. The depth we have helped get us the win.”
The Eagles’ victory surprised a good number of people, including Lundin.
“They weren’t giving a running score throughout the day like they usually do,” he said. “They started to announce the places and we thought they must have skipped us. Then they called us for first place. I was shocked. I was happy, but I was shocked.
“It’s a totally different feeling than if you win when you’re expected to. When you win and you’re expected to win, there’s some gratification there, but if you win when you weren’t expected to, it’s pretty special.”
Winning the meet isn’t easy in any year. It was quite a feat to walk away with the biggest trophy.
“One of my assistant coaches talked about what an honor it is to win the Perry Relays,” Sanchez said. “It’s been around a long time. There are a lot of quality teams. To go out and win something like this is pretty special.”
Clutter paced the Eagles, winning the 200-meter dash in 23.31. Lakeside’s Otis Conel was second in 23.52.
“Austin Clutter is a pretty amazing sprinter,” Lundin said. “I didn’t expect him to win the 200.”
The distance guys carried the day for Madison. Brandon Schauer and Tyler Berry were second and third, respectively, in the 800-meter run behind Brandon Lopez of Lakeside and Willie Rendek and Jason finished first and second in the 1,600-meter run.
The 3,200-meter relay of Rendek, Schauer, Travis Fairman and Orry Corrigan claimed a win and the team of Ryan, Fairman, Schauer and Rendek was second in the distance medley relay.
“At one point, we were sweeping every distance event,” Verdi said. “We took second in the distance relay. Our distance guys are doing really well right now. That’s the bread and butter of our team.”
Zac Hutchinson and James Lyle won the pole vault for Edgewood, though they haven’t had much opportunity to compete this spring.
“We’ve gone to a lot of meets this year where we really haven’t been able to utilize the pole vaulters.” Sanchez said. “I feel they played a big part in the victory.”
The team of Jacob Cardona, Connor Lynch, Mike DiDonato and Riis Smith was victorious in the 400- and 800-meter relays.
“Our (400- and 800-meter relays) were really good for us,” Sanchez said. “We have some really good sprinters and that was helpful.”
The distance medley of Josh Lemay, Justin Kluge, Zach Lemay and Chris Lemay also won for the Warriors.
“I think what clinched it for us was the distance medley relay,” Sanchez said. “We have the three Lemay brothers in that one. They have been so good for us. We won that event. Those 10 points were very important.”
David Chase won the 200-meter dash in 22.96 and teamed with Lucas Hitchcock to win the high jump for the Falcons.
“David did PR with a 6-6 in the high jump and won the 200,” Furman said.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.