Another year, another District Championship for the men of Chuck Kyle '69.
For the umpteenth year in a row, the Saint Ignatius varsity track and field team proved its Northeast Ohio dominance by claiming first-place at the District Meet at Amherst Marion Steele High School on Wednesday and Friday. The Wildcats notched 127 points, surpassing the second-place finisher by 57 points.
The Wildcats scored points in a wide number of events, and will be well represented at next week's Regional Meet, also at Amherst.
Highlights were made in a wide variety of events, but perhaps John Wetula's star shined brightest.
The senior proved to be a one-man wrecking crew, earning points in bunches. Wetula started his points party with an 8-point effort in the 110m hurdles. The West Parker galloped to second place with a time of 14.68, just .24 seconds off of first. Wetula then earned the bronze in the 300m hurdles, again qualifying for Regionals. Clocking in at 39.65, Wetula chalked up 6 more points for the Wildcats.
Wetula helped to do even more damage in the 4x100m relay. Combining with Jack Kennedy, Henry Cook, and Dominic Devengencie claimed the gold in an upset victory. The Wildcat quartet finished third in prelims on Wednesday to very talented teams from Elyria on St. Edward. But Friday belonged to Wetula, Kennedy, Cook, and Devengencie. The Wildcats catapulted to first with a time of 42.90 for 10 points, besting Elyria and St. Edward.
Not one but two Wildcats will be headed to Regionals in the 100m dash. Devengencie and Kennedy again flashed their dynamic speed, scoring third and fourth, with respective times of 11.26 and 11.33. Devengencie will be a star for the Football Cats last season, and Kennedy is a finalist for the Wirtz Award. Kennedy also showed off his speed in the 200m, firing to a time of 23.03 for third and a spot at Regionals. James Crosby also made it to finals, but barely missed out on Regionals, tabbing a sixth-place time of 23.47. Crosby is a bright young star to watch moving forward into his senior year.
The Wildcats experienced a narrow miss in the 400m dash. Cormac Nolan qualified for finals, but just barely missed out on a Regional bid. The lightning-quick junior took fifth, missing the cut by just .21 seconds.
Matt Blouch and Nick Saul also ran great prelim races in the 800m, but will not advance to Regionals after not finishing in the top four in the finals. Blouch snagged 12th with a time of 2:09.22. However, Saul did qualify in the 1600m run. The savvy senior claimed third with a time of 4:20.29, collecting six points. Blouch finished close behind with a mark of 4:21.58 and earned four points, but not a spot in next week's race, taking fifth.
Speaking of distance events, Steve Zucca continued his incredible breakout season in the 1600m run. The junior bested the pack of 23 runners by nearly 3 seconds. His great finish earned him 10 points, first place, and a ticket to Amherst next week. SIBN freshman phenom Matt Kelly missed the cut with a ninth-place time of 10:20.78, but he has a bright future on the track and on the airwaves.
The relays also provided plenty of notable results and points.
The 4x400 relay team provided one of the best highlights of the day. Jack McCarthy, Liam Reilly, Luke Griffiths, and Cormac Nolan raced to first place in clutch fashion. The quartet, composed of three juniors and one sophomore, penned a time of 3:27.50 for the gold and 10 points.
In a similar fashion, the 4x800 relay took care of business with style. Saul, John Mayer, Zucca, and Blouch carved a time of 7:59.73 for the top spot at Districts and a ticket to Regionals. The group bested the second place team by over 3 seconds.
Julian Burnett, Chris Velotta, Griffiths, and Luke Rohloff narrowly missed out on Regionals by just .43 seconds. The quartet's sixth-place finish still earned three points for the Wildcats, more padding for the District title.
As per usual, the field portion of the meet went well for the Wildcats.
One of the best displays occurred in the pole vault. Both Dan Drellishak and John Wiberg punched tickets to Amherst next week. The junior and senior snagged second and third places and two of the four qualifying spots. The two have been outstanding all season, and it was no different on Wednesday. Drellishak topped 14-00.00 in his third attempt at the height, finishing second via a tiebreaker. Wiberg jumped to 12-06.00, giving the Wildcats 14 points in the pole vault alone. Look for these two great young men next week in Amherst.
Dante Frabotta burst out for third place in the high jump. The senior leaped over 6-01.00 on his best jump, issuing six points for the team and a ticket for himself to Regionals. Andrew Eicher also looked great in the event, but his top jump of 6-00.00 was not enough to qualify for next week's meet. Eicher will be back next year, though, and a good bet for a Regional bid.
Luke Tai also just missed the cut in the long jump. The senior topped out at 20-04.25 for fifth place. Tai's incredible effort deserved a spot at Regionals, but four other competitors just had great days. Congrats to Tai on a great season and career at Wildcat High. Jack Hutter also came up short with his best jump of 20-02.75 for seventh, but Hutter will be back next year.
Other great careers came to an end at Districts. Aidan Wells hurled a nice throw of 45-11.75 in the shot put on Friday, but his excellent effort was not enough to clinch a spot next week. Wells did earn three points with a sixth-place finish. AJ Canzano also threw for the last time, but he went out on a high note with a great toss of 45-04.00, tallying a point for the Wildcats.
The bright future of the Ring Cats was on full display in the discus. As a sophomore, Nick Velotta has been awesome this season, and it was no different on Wednesday. Velotta the younger earned two points with a throw of 130-08, netting him seventh place. Look for Velotta to be back next year better than ever. Unfortunately, George Byrne will not be back next year, as he'll be off to The Ohio State University, following in the footsteps of his coach, Ryan Franzinger '02. Byrne capped off his career with a throw of 120-08.
As a team, the Wildcats tallied 127 points. Elyria (70 points), Avon Lake (60), St. Edward (55), and Olmsted Falls (53) rounded out the top five.
The Wildcats will be back in Amherst on Wednesday for Day 1 of Regionals. Click here for more info on Regionals.