As a veteran coach in the Westland High School track and field program, Tim Eckard's responsibilities have been a little more challenging this season.

As a veteran coach in the Westland High School track and field program, Tim Eckard's responsibilities have been a little more challenging this season.

Eckard not only has had to instruct his relatively young team, which features several freshmen, he also has had to keep his athletes upbeat during what has been a rainy spring.

"This is one of the coldest, wettest springs I can remember in a long time," said Eckard, in his eighth season.

"It seems like every meet that we run there's either a chance for rain or we get rained on. It's definitely getting frustrating, but it kind of goes with the territory. As a spring coach, you just pack all your rain gear and get ready."

The Best of the South-West Invitational was held on April 15 at Central Crossing in wet and cold conditions.

Though the boys and girls teams each finished fourth in the four-team fields, they each had solid individual performances.

The boys (45 points) finished behind Grove City (86), Central Crossing (66) and Franklin Heights (58).

Leading the way for Westland was the 400-meter relay of Connor Scott, Giann Martinez, Jon Bowen and Chris Butcher. They finished first in 48 seconds.

Dayon Walton was second in the 300 hurdles (46.0) and third in the 110 hurdles (18.4), and Cody Guitner was second in the 110 hurdles (18.0).

Dylan Ross was second in the high jump (5 feet, 6 inches), Ben Warner was second in the 1,600 (5:02.6) and Bowen was third in the discus (111-1 1/2).

Ross, Warner, Abdi Omer and Sean Tho were second in the 3,200 relay (9:32.9), Bowen, Scott, Ross and Warner were third in the 1,600 relay (3:49.1) and freshmen Scott, Erick Martinez, Giann Martinez and Kris Davies were third in the 800 relay (1:40.4).

"Our freshmen relay team call themselves the 'Fab Four,'" Eckard said. "I'm calling them the future 'Fab Four.' They're not fab yet, but they're a pretty good little group of freshmen."

The girls (18) finished behind Grove City (98), Central Crossing (72) and Franklin Heights (62).

Jackie Barnhart finished second (91-4 3/4) in the discus to Franklin Heights' Kim Beaver, who threw a personal-best 95-7.

"I was looking forward to Jackie being a South-West champion, but the girl from Heights stepped up and Jackie just couldn't go 95, same as what the girl from Heights threw," Eckard said. "Jackie definitely had a good day. She's having a pretty consistent year so far."

Finishing third for the Cougars were Sasha Bouaroy, Tatiana Little, Jhanel McDonald and Odunayo Shobo in the 400 (56.4) and 800 (2:04.5) relays.

The Cougars compete Tuesday, April 26, at Hilliard Darby and Saturday, April 30, in the Anthony Wilson Invitational at Franklin Heights.

Barnhart hopes to place ahead of Beaver in the discus.

"With this sport, I guess you're never really satisfied," Barnhart said. "You just kind of hope that you just get better. I'll just have to try my best to get up there with her, so I can be more competitive with her, but I'm pretty excited about it."

Westland was scheduled to compete against Upper Arlington at home on April 19, but the meet was postponed because of bad weather and rescheduled for May 10.

To help offset the wet spring, Eckard and his staff have held team-building activities like a bowling night and going out to dinner.

"We're trying to do more team-building kind of fun stuff because we have a really young team this year," Eckard said. "It seems to be paying off. The kids are really positive still even though the weather has been miserable. The kids are still keeping upbeat and they're still working hard for us."