CORTLAND - Senior Nick Mackey began running the 4x800 relay his freshman year at Champion.
The expectations grew each year he matured as a Golden Flashes distance runner.
Champion started to slowly build momentum each year and they reached full steam on Thursday. The Golden Flashes took home the Division II Lakeview District title in the relay with a time of 8:18.06 with Mackey, Allen Sparks, Drew Dunlap and Brandon Vystrcil.
"We kept chipping time off, freshman, sophomore, junior year. This year we wanted to take that title for district champs," Mackey said.
Last fall, the distance contingent showed what they've been working toward.
Champion finished as Division II district runners-up in cross country in the fall, led by Mackey and sophomore Allen Sparks and their tandem 1-2 finish - a finish most schools noticed during the fall.
Then, for the first time in more than a decade, Champion beat Lakeview for the AAC National Division title in cross country.
On Thursday, Champion competed inside Lakeview's Don Richards Stadium in the 4x800 relay.
Heading into the third leg, Lakeview held a slight lead. Sparks took the baton and he and his elongated gait provided by his 6-foot-3 frame eventually carried Champion to the lead after the first 200 meters.
"I was immediately thanking God for giving me the ability to do that. I was really energized and it kept me going the whole race," Sparks said.
Mackey knew he had to keep the lead Sparks secured.
"Definitely gets me pumped up as the anchor," Mackey said. "We were in second place. I saw him pass (Lakeview) right around the 200 mark. Got me pumped up. I knew I had to keep the lead for us."
Sparks, soon after handing the baton off to Mackey following his two laps around the track, looked as the senior anchor brought home hardware for Champion.
"I just wanted to see him get the lead and win it for us," Sparks said.
Champion's foursome was 3 seconds off the school record. It's something the Golden Flashes will be aiming for next week at the Division II Austintown Regional.
The top four in each district final advance to regionals.
This is uncharted territory for Champion, and a long way from Mackey's freshman season.
"I don't remember when we ran a race in districts that was this big," he said.
DISTRICT RECORD BREAKERS: Girard's Caitlyn Trebella went 9 feet, 6 inches to win the girls pole vault. It was her personal best mark. She broke the mark of 9-0, set by Woodridge's Emily Gillespie last year. ... Garfield's Edith Svonavec went 43-7.25 in the girls shot put. She broke her own district record set last year of 42-6.25. ... United's Riley Fillman jumped 22-2.5 to beat the boys long jump record of 21-11.5 set in 2012 by Pymatuning Valley's Quintin Ratliff. ... Girard's Savannah Teter broke the girls high jump record with 5-3.5, passing the mark set by Girard's Ashley Wagner of 5-3 in 2012. ... In the girls 4x100 prelims, Ursuline broke the 2012 mark set by Lakeview of 49.97 with 49.96.
CHAMPS: Hubbard's Matt Jones won the discus (156-0), while PV's Ryan Harte won the boys pole vault (12-0).
QUALIFIERS: Other area qualifiers are: boys 4x800 - Lakeview, LaBrae; girls 4x800 - Garfield, Lakeview; boys discus - Mooney's Dante Penza, Lakeview's Jordan Lowther; girls high jump - Girard's Brandi Shonce, PV's Kat Hall; boys long jump - Penza, Lakeview's Mason Borawiec, Garfield's Seth Duvall; girls shot put - Newton Falls's Tia Harris and Kayleigh Mitchell, Girard's Abilgail Hahn; boys pole vault - Lakeview's Jarrett Pishotti and Colton Ainsley, PV's Scott Hogan; girls pole vault - Lakeview's Jackie Smith and Abby Townsend, Shonce.
OTHERS: Girard's girls lead Lakeview in the team standings, 37 to 27. Justine Kagy and Makayla Trebella have the top times in the 400 heading into Saturday's competition with 1:01.01 and 1:01.58, respectively. On the boys' side, Lakeview leads United, 37-20.