Summer track and field meets — it’s the new norm

J. Patrick Eaken

Summer high school track meets have become the new normal — if there is a new normal. Problem is, there are still not that many track meets going on.
On Thursday, July 16 Genoa hosted “Summer Fest 2020”, which allowed any high school athlete graduating in the years 2020-2024 to compete. It is one of a few held this summer, but there were none in the spring because the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are not that many (meets). That’s why I did it. I had many people email me from many states,” Genoa track coach and organizer Luke Hodulik said.
Athletes were so interested in competing that they came from a school in southern Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky, and also from schools in Chicago and Flint, Michigan.
Hodulik said 56 athletes competed, most in multiple events, which included field events, but no running events. Events included the shot put, discus, long jump, high jump, pole vault and triple jump, which is now allowed in OHSAA events.
“I think it was awesome. Everything was smooth, all the spectators, coaches and athletes adhered to the guidelines. It was good. Everyone had a good time,” Hodulik said.
“A lot of the kids were really happy to be able to do something. That was the biggest thing, and you could see that based on how far some of them came. I had a lot of them begging me to do another one, you know.”
Eastwood track coach Brian Sabo emailed The Press, saying his school is not planning to host a meet, “but is considering.” Hodulik is hoping that he can put together a running-event only meet but adds that time may be running out. Hodulik hopes that other schools follow Genoa’s example after the spring season was canceled.
“It went well. I think probably the takeaway is all the officials were complimentary. The biggest takeaway from everybody, the most feedback that I got, was that we should try to almost use it as an example of what is possible. We know we have all the guidelines and restrictions that are necessary, but at the same time, we’re looking for solutions for what we can still do,” Hodulik said.
Local schools listed included Genoa and Eastwood, but athletes making the trip came from Downers Grove North, Patrick Henry, Elmwood, Bryon, Madeira, Leipsic, Bellevue, Columbus Grove, Otsego, Whitmer, Charlestown, Perkins, and Van Buren.
According to Ohio MileSplit, Eastern Illinois University commit Bo Braunecker got his first taste of live action in months at the Summer Fest.
Braunecker, from Charlestown High School, Indiana, captured the discus event victory with a 159 feet, nine inches toss, while Jacob Bechtel, a Perkins grad, earned the shot put triumph with a 52-9½ mark. Bechtel also took runner-up honors in the discus, behind Braunecker with his throw of 154-1. Both efforts represent career bests for Bechtel. 
On the ladies side, Sarah Marvin put on a show in the throwing events. The Byron, Michigan representative handily won the discus and shot put competitions with throws of 150-11 and 48-9½, respectively.
“The one girl from Michigan that came, she was going for the national mark. She didn’t quite get it, but she is still amazing. She won both of the throws by a mile,” Hodulik said.
Hodulik was pleased with the way his own Genoa athletes competed, but admitted the one problem that comes with out of season events. They were also playing other sports this summer.
“They did really well in triple jump, and then they started getting kind of tired. They already ran too much — my two jumpers, in particular, have been having soccer practices every day, so they were dead,” Hodulik said.
Genoa winners included junior Ethan Wilson, who won the triple jump with a leap of 39-6¾ and freshmen Lily Frias won the high jump at 4-6. Eastwood sophomore Julia Sabo won the pole vault with a nine-foot leap. Eastwood and Genoa had 10 athletes each competing.
(— includes press release from Ohio Milesplit, a cross country and track website. Click link below to see meet results and press release.)
Results From Genoa Comets Summer Fest


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