The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 24, 2013

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Big-time track, swimming draw hundreds to Spire

Staff Writer

HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — Athletes from all over the Midwest ran, jumped, swam and dove in search of conference championships Saturday as two major events drew to a close at Spire Institute.

“We have had so many records broken this week,” said Lucas Feller, director of championships for the Atlantic 10 Conference that held their men’s and women’s swimming and diving championships at Spire Institute.

“This is such a great facility. Our students are in love with the place,” Feller said as the diving competition drew to a close early Saturday afternoon.

“We have had approximately 450 athletes (competing),” Feller said. He said the site is perfect for the conference that includes schools from as far west as St. Louis, Mo., as far south as Richmond, Va. and as far north as Massachusetts.

Sandy Ranck, the mother of a Lakeside High School swimmer, said she has been working the event as a volunteer helping with timing and other odds and ends.

She said the impact of major championship swim meets at Spire will have a large effect on area swim teams. “It’s going to be huge. Just having Spire here has made a huge difference (in the size of area swim teams),” she said.

Having a chance to see the quality of athlete competing at the NCAA Division I level is an eye opener. “My son is here (Chip Ranck). He is just really enjoying it,” she said.

Several hundred yards away the Big 10 was holding their indoor track and field championship in the state of the art track facility.

“It is great to see the competition. It is too bad their aren’t more high school kids here,” said Mark Shafer, Chardon High School cross country coach.

Scott Ogren, an assistant cross country and track coach at Conneaut, was excited to watch the track and field and brought several athletes to check out the competition.

He said watching the pole-vaulting competition took him back several decades.

“You just want to go back out there,” Ogren said of his time pole vaulting and running distance for the Spartans.

Brian Mason, sports information director for track and field for the University of Wisconsin said the facility makes for a good meet. “The fact is there are very few places in the country that have a facility like this,” he said.

Track fans moved from one area of the stands to another as different field events were competed throughout the building. Pole vault fans were on the south side of the building while high jump fans sat on the north side.

Edgewood High School graduate Mallory Kreider finished 11th out of 14 people that started her heat in the unseeded 5,000 meters on Saturday afternoon.

Kreider ran a time of 17:26 about 11 seconds from her fastest time ever ran at Spire last winter. Kreider’s mother, Kim, cheered her daughter on from the stands on each lap.