GREEN: The Green girls and Nordonia boys each completed undefeated seasons Saturday afternoon with first-place finishes at the Suburban League Track Championships at Green High School.
The Bulldogs won eight events and broke four school records (400-meter relay, 800 relay, 3,200 relay and the 400) in securing their second consecutive Suburban League title with a score of 161. The next-closest team was Highland with 117 points.
“I am just tickled to death about our girls,” Green coach Dan Gourley said. “They have a lot of heart. They worked hard all season. To [break those records] and sweep the pole vault 1-2-3, I think we can beat just about anybody.”
Junior Morgan Estes continued the trend of winning pole vaulters at Green. Her vault of 12 feet, 5 inches won by nearly 2 feet. Fellow Bulldogs Morgan Kelly and Megan Swaney took second and third place, respectively.
Estes’ score beat her top vault over the past couple weeks by 5 inches. She says she had a tough time breaking through the 12-foot barrier.
“I had more confidence today, both in myself and the team,” Estes said. “The past couple of meets, my foot was bothering me, and that’s better. And I started to trust the poles more.”
Estes hopes to continue the recent tradition of pole vaulters at the state tournament.
“When I came here my freshman year, I didn’t realize they had made it to the state meet so many times,” she said. “Now I’m just trying to keep it going. It’s exciting to be a part of that.”
Kristen Bergmeyer also had a strong day, winning the 400 in a school-record 58.46 seconds, in addition to being a part of all three record-breaking relay teams.
Saturday was the home finale for Gourley, who has coached the girls track team at Green for 31 years. As his girls sang Green’s alma mater, an emotional Gourley talked about 29 years of frustration followed with back-to-back titles, allowing him to go out on top.
“I don’t think I ever could have written a script like that,” he said. “Never in a million years. Year after year, disappointment after disappointment. Finally, we got a winning combination. It’s very hard for me to leave. So overwhelmed.
“I said if we ever got a banner for girls track, I’d leave. Now we got two, so I’m leaving.”
While Green talked of tradition, Nordonia — in its first season back in the Suburban League — signified a new beginning.
The Nordonia boys won their conference for the third year in a row, with the previous two coming in the Northeast Ohio Conference.
The Knights and Bulldogs brought it down to the wire, but Nordonia finished strong to take it 136 points to 127.
With only two events remaining, Green held a 121-114 advantage. Nordonia coach Scott Barwidi got together his three runners in the 3,200 and decided to put a little pressure on them.
“We knew we were down seven points entering the 3,200 and that we had to put three guys ahead of their first,” Barwidi said. “We told our kids that. I like to put pressure on our kids and see how they react to it.”
Patrick Osborne, Alex Wilson and Zach Thaxton finished 4-5-6, one spot ahead of Green’s top runner, Adam Haines, to give Nordonia a three-point lead.
The Knights then won the 1,600 relay, anchored by senior Brandon Freeman, to seal the title.
Freeman won four events, including the 100 (11.42 seconds), 200 (22.86) and 400 (50.59).
“I feel great … tired, but great,” Freeman said after finishing the relay. “I feel like I still have some more left.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.