Wilkes, Lake relay teams sprinting past opposition

J. Patrick Eaken

        Lake track coach Jason Schober says sophomore sprinter Xayden Wilkes “has had a great start” and the coach can back that up. So can Wilkes.
        Wilkes has placed first in the 100 meter dash at all three invitational meets the Flyers participated in, first with Lake’s 4x200 relay team at three of them, first with the 4x100 in two meets, second in the 4x100 in two meets, second in the 4x400 in three meets and second in the sprint medley at Maumee. 
        At the 10-team Liberty Center Invitational, Wilkes won the 100 in 11.4 seconds, nipping Sylvania Northview sprinter Tommy Burke (11.5).
        As a freshman, Wilkes was honorable mention all-league with the 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams. 
        Wilkes is one of 19 returning lettermen on this year’s Lake squad. They include seniors Kaleb Rucker, Cole Eby, Brian Haslinger, and Sam Scifers.
        Juniors are Joe Clay, Macen Kos, Caleb Day, Zach Buschmann, Chris Gurney, Mason Miller, and Kohl Weis. Sophomores include Figgy Garcia, Gerrit Kistler, Conner McClellan, and Tyler Temple. 
        Day, Wilkes, Garcia, Eby, and Rucker came into the season Lake’s top sprinters.
        “All have been extremely hard workers and have timed at the top of every sprint. They can do a lot of great things,” Schober said.
        Day, Rucker and Garcia were honorable mention All-Northern Buckeye Conference selections with the 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams, and Garcia was HM in the 400 meter dash in the league and districts, qualifying for regionals. Rucker was also a second team All-NBC honoree in the long jump, placed fourth at the district meet and qualified for regionals.  
        At Liberty Center this year, Garcia, Rucker, Day and Wilkes won the 4x200 relay, finishing in 1:35.87 and edging Northview (1:36.85). Garcia, Eby, Day and Wilkes followed that up by taking the 4x100 in 45.72 to defeat the host school, LC (46.05).
        At the eight-team Rossford Invitational, Garcia, Ebby, Day and Wilkes won the 4x200 in a meet record time of 1:35.7, breaking a mark (1:37.3) set by a Rossford team in 2021. Sylvania Southview was second in 1:36, which would have also been a record.
        Schober says distance runners Macen Kos and Connor McClellan “are young and hard working.”
        “I think they will only get better and better throughout the season. Micah Balsmeyer was also very impressive in junior high as well as in cross country,” Schober said.
        The Flyers are getting some success from their field events, too.
        “We have some good young throwers in Wiess and Gerrit Kistler,” Schober said. “Rucker has have been very impressive in the long jump so far and Joe Clay has been improving in the high jump every week. Haslinger has been very consistent at pole vault as well.”
        It is a mix that Schober feels he can work with.       
        “We have a lot of young guys that I think can make our relays a strength. It’s mine and our coaches’ jobs to put them in the right spot,” Schober said.
        “We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores that I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do over the course of the season — Wilkes, Garcia, Balsmeyer, Ian Ferris, Greyson Reed and McClellan just to name a few.
        “So far it seems everyone is buying in and improving from when we first started. We have around 50 guys out. We showed a lot of improvement across the board last year and we’re hoping for similar capabilities this season.”
        Last year’s team was 3-4 in league dual and tri-meets and 5-4 overall.  Lake finished ninth out of 15 teams at the Lakota Invitational, seventh out 10 teams at the Liberty Center Invite, ninth out of 16 teams at the Gibsonburg invite, fifth out of nine at the Otsego Invite, 10th out of 11 teams at the Oak Harbor Invite, and sixth at the Northern Buckeye Conference meet.
        Entering his eighth season, Schober’s teams at Lake are a combined 17-24 in dual and tri-meets, plus two team trophies at invitational events.
        “We have had a great group of kids over the years and a great coaching staff each season. We’ve built long lasting relationships with both,” Schober said.
        Schober started his coaching career as an assistant at Woodmore for four years followed by three years as an assistant Lake before becoming head coach. He has also coached football for 20 years as an assistant, including four years at Woodmore, one at Cardinal Stritch, 13 at Lake, and most recently two years at Rossford.


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