Travel mishap hurts Johnnies at regional
The Johnstown-Monroe High School track and field teams arrived late to the Division II regional meet May 30 at Lexington, limiting their chances to advance to state.
Instead of starting out for Lexington, a school near Mansfield in Richland County, the bus started for New Lexington, a school east of Lancaster in Perry County.
"I drove up by myself (to the regional meet) and from what I understand they realized (at) about Lancaster that they were going the wrong way," assistant coach Mark Thomas said. "By the time they got here, the (3,200-meter relay) already had been run, so we missed that. We missed the girls shot put, but the girls high jump and boys pole vault (were) still going on."
Senior Kendall Colvin, who tied for fifth in the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches) in last year's girls state meet, did not clear her initial height at regional.
"When they got (to regional), the high jump was still going on, but they were at 5-3," Thomas said. "They allowed Kendall to start at 5-3, but she didn't have any warm-up jumps and wasn't able to clear. That was tough to do without warm-ups."
Junior Alex Workman did not clear his initial height of 13-6 in the boys pole vault. Freshman Josiah Annis did not compete in the event because of a leg injury.
"The officials did everything they could for us without bending the rules," Thomas said.
Sophomore Elizabeth Blenk (300 hurdles), senior Marissa Sheets (400) and the girls' 800 relay competed May 30 but did not advance to regional finals June 1.
Blenk had set the goal of not only advancing to regional, but also putting her name on the record board at Johnstown.
She was able to do both in the district 1 meet May 21, 22 and 25 at Westerville South, as she finished fourth in the 300 hurdles in 47.62 seconds to break the program record of 49.5 set by Valerie Hubbard in 1992 and Kaila Cramer in 2008.
"I really wanted that record, but I didn't run well in the (district) preliminaries (51.2) because I was sick," Blenk said. "There were some fast girls there and they really pushed me in the final."
Blenk ran a 49.55 in the event during the Licking County Honor Roll Meet on May 8 at Granville, just missing the record.
"I think my training in the 400 really helps me in the 300 hurdles," said Blenk, who was ninth at district in the 100 hurdles (17.94). "It's shorter (than the 400) and it goes a lot quicker. A lot of times, I feel like I can't believe I'm done already."
"Elizabeth is good in the 300 hurdles because she is a natural athlete with very long legs," coach Jerry Tackett said.
Blenk also won the long jump at district (15-6 1/4) to advance to compete in the regional June 1. The top four in each district event advanced to regional, where the top four in each event advanced to state Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8, at Ohio State.
"Elizabeth has a great body for jumping with her long legs, and she's very coachable," said assistant coach Tammy Ortman, who works with the jumpers. "When you tell her what to do, she'll work and have it fixed in a night or two. That doesn't always happen in jumps."
Blenk also advanced from district to regional as a member of the fourth-place 800 relay (1:49.7) with junior Tanner Jakeway, sophomore Kylie Workman and Sheets as the Johnnies finished fifth (54) of 13 teams at district behind champion Granville (147.5).
"I like relays because of the team aspect involved," Blenk said. "It's not just you out there. It's the team that matters."
Colvin was second at district in the high jump (5-0) and senior Abby Smith was second in the shot put (32-2 1/4).
Sheets was fourth in the 400 (1:01.33) and the 3,200 relay was fourth (10:30.59) with freshman Grace Mast and juniors Taylor Thomas, Jessica Turner and McCalah Mast.
Other top district performances included junior Madison Blair in the 300 hurdles (seventh, 52.13), Grace Mast in the 1,600 (ninth, 6:02.42), McCalah Mast in the 3,200 (seventh, 12:50.43), freshman Alaina Morrison in the pole vault (sixth, 7-0) and Workman in the 400 (eighth, 1:06.57).
The boys finished 12th (15) in district 1 behind champion Independence (91).
Workman was second in the pole vault (11-0) and Annis was third (10-0).
Junior Nathanael Ashbrook was eighth in the long jump (18-4 1/2).
Baseball team ties for fourth in MBC
The baseball team finished 9-17 overall after losing 5-4 at 13th-seeded West Jefferson on May 14 in the first round of the Division III district tournament. The Johnnies were seeded 17th.
Johnstown tied Loudonville for fourth (6-8) in the MBC behind co-champions Fredericktown and Northridge (12-2) and Utica (8-6). Centerburg was sixth (5-9), followed by East Knox (4-10) and Danville (3-11).
Junior second baseman Jakob Cramer (.389 batting average, 15 runs, 10 RBI) was first-team all-league and senior outfielder Preston Hiles (.345, 6 RBI) was second-team all-league.
Junior pitcher Zach LaRue (3-3, 32 strikeouts, 10 walks, 3.00 ERA, 42 innings) was honorable mention all-league and won the team's Johnnie Award.
Senior outfielder Scott Sammons won the team's sportsmanship award.
Daniel-Mark Almendinger (OF), Hiles and Sammons were the team's seniors.
"Preston just surprised every team he went up against and raised everyone to a different level," said interim coach Todd Sammons, who went 1-1 after second-year coach Anthony Cleveland resigned May 9. "He made everyone around him better.
"Scott missed the early part of the season with a pelvic injury from basketball and really helped solidify our outfield defense. He was like the quarterback out there for us. Daniel-Mark Almendinger was a vocal leader who would get the team fired up and ready to play. He was probably the most vocal of the seniors and made the team better with his hard work."
Expected to return are juniors Sam Branstool (C/INF/OF), Clayton Bullard (C; .300, 16 RBI), Cramer, Harrison Johnson (OF/C), Josh Kirkpatrick (1B/P; 3-5, 4.51 ERA, 26 strikeouts, 24 walks, 45 innings), LaRue, Loren Queen (OF), David Schaller (3B) and Nic Walker (P/OF) and sophomores Brendan Barasch (OF), Andrew Hollis (P/INF), Anthony Hollis (P/INF) and Cody Rayburn (P/1B).
"Our whole infield will be coming back, but we will lose our outfielders," coach Sammons said.