McDonald track and field sweeps districts

NEW MIDDLETOWN – Patrick Kunkel has been running the 4×400-meter relay most of the season.

The 3,200. Not so much.

Friday, it was a different story for the McDonald High School senior.

The distance runner, who will run for the University of San Francisco next year, was thrust into the 3,200 for Friday’s track and field meet at Springfield High School.

With McDonald leading by a couple points heading into the 3,200, it was a power play that worked.

Junior Bobby Johnson won the race (9:36.36) and Kunkel took third (9:42.99), which gave the Blue Devils 16 points and essentially the victory heading into the 4×400.

McDonald won its sixth straight Division III Springfield District title, this one over South Range, 129-109. United was third with 63 points.

“I’m kind of glad my coach shoved me in the race,” Kunkel said. “I’ve been doing a lot of the 4×400 this year and not too much of the 3,200. Early in the season I did want to get a PR (personal record). That was my PR. I haven’t run that hard since my sophomore year at regionals.”

The Blue Devils were getting points from more than the 3,200. Kunkel won the 800 and 1,600 and McDonald advanced two 400 runners to next week’s Navarre Regional. The top four in each final advanced to regionals.

“We didn’t even know Patrick was going to run until about a week ago,” said Johnson, who finished second in the 1,600. “He was set on the 800, mile and stuff. That’s huge, between the 400 guys getting third and fourth, we got some good points out of that.”

McDonald had its 4×200, 4×400, 4×800 relays and a couple throwers in Jacob Foster and Christian Smith advance, along with high jumpers Matt Seitz, who won the district title, and teammate Zack Conley was second. Both jumped 6 feet.

“They’re both doing really well this year,” McDonald boys coach Lou Domitrovich said. “I think they’re capable of some great things in the next two years. They’re a little rusty right now. They haven’t jumped well the last couple of weeks.

“We’re training hard and next week will be the tell-tale sign for them.”

As for the girls, they advance all four relays – 4×100, 4×200, 4×400 and 4×800. The 4×200 team of Frankie Humphries, Iva Domitrovich, Sara Joseph and Joya Humphries won district.

McDonald’s throwing tandem of Jai’Lyn Mosley and Tory Ross took first and second, respectively, in the discus and shot put.

Then, it was topped off by freshman Heidi Hoffman winning the 3,200 and taking second in the 1,600.

“It feels amazing. I’m happy with how I did and how our team did,” Hoffman said.

The Blue Devils handily won the meet for the second straight season, dominating second-place United, 141.5-69.

“I’m happy with our team performance,” Hoffman said. “We’ve all worked together and hard. I’m happy with all the girls on my team. We work together so well. I’m so proud of my team.”

These two district titles tell more than just district wins for each team, Domitrovich said.

“It speaks volumes of the boys and girls teams,” he said. “It speaks even more so of how good our program is, from the junior high all the way up. We have great junior high coaches. If you don’t have a feeder system, your varsity programs are nothing. We have a great feeder system – people that are devoted at that level and just do an amazing job.”

HURDLING FOR TWO: John F. Kennedy sophomore Chad Zallow and freshman Morgan Rice won both of their hurdling events.

Zallow took district titles in the 110s and 300s for the second straight year. Zallow ran a meet record 14.36 in the 110s, breaking the old mark set by Mineral Ridge’s Levi Leigh in 2004 of 14.55.

Then, he ran 39.12 in the 300s.

“That felt really good,” Zallow said. “I’m just getting ready for regionals. I just come out in the finals and see what I can do. Going for some good times and see what I can do for the next two weeks – regionals and state meet.”

Rice, who has running well all season, ran 15.26 in the 100s and 46.02 in the 300s. But running in temperatures in the 40s was not to her liking.

“I’m really glad I did,” Rice said of the wins. “The 300 was tough. The cold was terrible.”

She’s been running with LaBrae senior Megan Gunther, who trains with Rice. Both are under hurdles coach Jeff Jenkins.

“She’s like a teammate to me, even though we’re not on the same team,” Rice said. “We’ve always trained together. She’s always been good, so she’s always pushed me. That’s definitely helped.”

TOO MANY STEPS: John F. Kennedy’s 4×200 team of Rob Seger, Carl Zallow, Zach Watt and Chad Zallow won a district title. Watt took second in the 400 and Carl Zallow won the 100.

Kennedy qualified in the 4×100, but Carl Zallow opted out of the 200 to run in the 4×400.

The 4×400 ran a season-best time of 3:24.4, which is unofficial. Minutes after the race, JFK coach Robert Andrews was called to the official’s tent where he was told his relay team, one the tops in all of Division III, was disqualified for a lane violation.

The JFK contingent waiting the verdict was despondent. Even the girls 4×100 relay team, which advanced to regionals, wanted to offer their spot for their boys 4×400 team.

According to the meet officials, one of the JFK relay members had more than three consecutive steps outside his lane line. Ohio High School Athletic Association rules state that any runner on a relay cannot have more than three steps on or outside the lane. If so, it is grounds for disqualification.