Rockets finish second, Wildcats place 4th at regionals

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

What is probably the most successful track and field season in school history has only gotten better.
Oak Harbor, which won league and district titles in the last few weeks, took second at a Division II regional meet, finishing two points behind Perkins, 50-48.
The Rockets were led by Hayden Buhro, who qualified in two individual events and a relay. He was fourth in the 100 meters, finishing in 10.97 seconds; sixth in the 200 (22.03) and was part of the 4x200 relay that included Owen Miller, Judson Overmyer and Garry Brooks and finished third in 1:29.27. Wyatt Augsburger, who is a freshman, placed third in the 300 hurdles in 40.18 and was part of the 4x400 relay team that included Miller, Overmyer and Blake Nickel and finished second in 3:24.63. Miller qualified in the 400 by finishing third with a time of 49.55.
In the field events, Evan Hall broke a record in the shot put by Paul Bowersox that stood for 39 years with a throw of 54 feet, 11 inches – good enough to finish third, and Will Rahm was fourth in the pole vault with a leap of 13-8.
The expectations are high for Rocket coach Andy Augsburger.
“We have eight events being contested. We are extremely excited about eight events. The 4x200 relay team ran a school record on Saturday; the 4x400 relay team ran the fastest time that I’ve ever had since I started in 2008,” said Augsburger, who took over after coaching legend Tom Osborne retired. “Evan and Will have put themselves in position to do really well. Evan is peaking at the right time, Will is doing an excellent job, too. And Hayden, Owen and Wyatt all qualified for individual events. We’re excited to see what it looks like. They’ve done everything they can to get back to this point. It’s looking great.”
Augsburger credits the girls coach, John McKitrick, and the assistants – Cole Weirich, Steve Weirich, Gina Warnke, Beth Hubans, Tim Heffernan, Jeremy Lewis and Ashley Augsburger – for helping to keep the program successful and on the cutting edge. Oak Harbor also has a very good track and field program at the junior high. For Andy Augsburger, staying on top of things is what has made him so successful. He talked about what he does to add wrinkles to his coaching philosophy.
“Obviously, self-reflection is very, very important — what went right, wrong, what training strategies worked, what didn’t. We always look at me being the head coach, how things went, and how they could get better. I like to look up new things. The magazine, Coaches Corner, is sent to me monthly. I like looking up things on YouTube, seeing other coaches and what they’re doing, and on Instagram, I try to get some training techniques from that,” he said.
“This was our first year to have training with Ryan Christie. That was very beneficial. In the winter, the weight room is the go-to for athletes not in a winter sport. We also think about what kind of lifts we should incorporate into the program. We’re trying to make sure our athletes are ready to go for March 25. This area has a wealth of knowledge – coaches that have been successful, and I like to talk to those coaches,” he said.
Last year, Overmyer was part of the 4x200 relay team that was eighth in Div. II. The Rockets also had their 4x100 relay team take second last season.
“I feel I have gotten significantly better,” he said. “I started out not really knowing where I was going to be for the team and during COVID, I trained with more of a focus on the sprinting side and then it was just about getting stroking and working on the small things.
“It’s been so much fun. That’s the aspect of the sport that makes it so much fun for me (running a relay with my friends). Winning is fun and great, but making memories and forming bonds that go far beyond the track makes it that much better,” he said.

Wildcats on top of the world
The other area team that’s on top of the world is the Woodmore Wildcats girls team. After ending Eastwood’s string of 22 consecutive league (SLL, NBC) titles, Woodmore won a district championship and finished fourth at the Division III regional tournament.
Azure Travis continued to dominate, winning the 100 hurdles (15.01) and the 300 hurdles (45.03), and she was part of the 4x400 relay team with Rahzia Rios, Emma Hammer and Ariana Florio that was third in 3:57.37.
Hammer was second in the 800 in 2:16.35, Rios was third in the 400 in 58.70 and Olivia Vogelpohl placed third in the 1600 in 5:10.00. The 4x800 relay team of Vogelpohl, Hammer, Caydie Buchanan and Jordan Beam was second in 9:40.89.
“I expected most of them to qualify, but I don’t mean to sound arrogant. The way they qualified was pretty impressive. You could tell they wanted to get to Columbus,” said Woodmore coach Jim McMahon. “The team scores were an added bonus; scoring 57 points and finishing fourth was pretty impressive.
“Our team loves competing and we’re looking to get to the podium. They know how big of an atmosphere it is and how intense it can be trying to (reach the podium). We have a few girls that have been there before,” he said.
One of them is Travis, who was fourth in the 300 hurdles (44.60) and fifth in the 100 hurdles (15.18) last year in Division III, talked about her team’s performance at regionals.
“As a team, we knew what we had to do,” she said. “We all did really well and without any one person, it wouldn’t have happened. “I’m really excited to get back to Jesse Owens (Memorial Stadium).”
Arguably, it’s been one of the most successful seasons in program history. The ‘Cats won three invitationals this season — the Gibsonburg Invite, the Oak Harbor Invite and the Lakota Invite — and finished second two other times.
“So far, we’ve been pretty consistent. We competed for a trophy wherever we competed,” said McMahon. “When we took the Oak Harbor Invite, we beat teams like Eastwood, Oak Harbor and Margaretta. We are confident with our lineup.”
An accomplished group of seniors — Rios, Vogelpohl, Jordan Beam, Alayna Hahn and Paige Helmke – lead the way. The class has had a great run, winning a league title in basketball and advancing to the regional finals in soccer. “All of the seniors are great role models, great leaders,” said Travis. “I’m glad to have them as a class ahead of me. They’re so versatile; they can do any event, and they inspire the younger classes.”


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