It was quite a NHC meet Friday at New Haven High School for Eric Claxton. The Carroll senior distance runner set the tone, made a statement midway through the championships and then got in the last word as the Chargers won the title for the second straight year.
Carroll won only six of the 14 events, but scored a perfect 18 points in both the 800 and 1600. The Chargers finished with 170 points to Homestead's 161.
“We have a great distance program and every meet starts with the 3,200 relay,” said Carroll coach Nathan Fitzgerald. “We tell all our team to watch that race and it gets us going. It sets the tone for the entire meet.”
Claxton anchored Carroll's winning 3,200-meter relay before coming back and winning the 800.
“In the relay, I was just running to stay in the lead and get the win,” Claxton said. “I needed to be ready for the 800 later. It was just as important to win that event.”
When he stepped off the track after his victory in the 800, little did Claxton know that his most dramatic moment was yet to come. In the meet's final event, 1,600 meter relay, Claxton was called for emergency duty as the anchor.
“When (Alex) Crabill went down in the 200 with a pulled muscle, we were really worried,” Claxton said. “So I ran anchor. I was just thinking the whole lap that I had to win it for Alex.”
In the meet's most exciting race, Claxton came from behind to overtake Homestead's Jordan Davis. Claxton's 400 meter split in the race was 49.5 seconds, a full second faster than he'd ever run before.
“I can't believe how that race turned out,” Claxton said. “The whole place was going crazy, people running back and forth to cheer. We were shoulder to shoulder the whole way. It was incredible.”
The team victory wasn't official until Carroll's Tony Armstrong was finished winning the pole vault with a mark of 14-feet.
“What a way to win the meet,” Fitzgerald said. “There were events where we didn't get the points we should have, but then we had some unexpected efforts also like a freshman, Kaleb Johnson, winning the high jump and another freshman, Sam Anderson, getting second in the long jump.”
One other effort that Fitzgerald wasn't counting on was Kevin Salter's leg in the 1600.
“Kevin wasn't supposed to run, but when Crabill goes down, he's up,”Fitzgerald said of Salter. “Then he runs a great leg, overcomes some adversity, and finishes strong. It gave us a chance to win.”
Homestead won seven events and was led by Trevor Stanley who won both the 100 meter dash and 300 hurdles along with placing third in the 200. Also winning for the Spartans were John Lark (200), Jordan Davis (110 hurdles), Zach Swarts (shot put) and Brayden Law (3200). They also won the 400 relay, which included both Stanley and Lark.
Other event winners were New Haven's Adam Hoffer (400) and Brandon Fluker (long jump) and East Noble's Jacob Brown.
Wayne sprints to SAC title
Shamarcus Ford won the 200 and Carrington Robinson won the long jump and they combined to help Wayne win the 1,600 relay and the Summit Athletic Conference title at Northrop's Spuller Stadium.
Ford also placed second in the 100 and 400 for the Generals who edged runner-up Bishop Dwenger, 116-112.
The Saints had three winners: Jarod Schipper (pole vault), Greg Tippmann (800) and Luke Miller (1600).
South Side, which placed third with 94 points, also had four winners: Adrian Mable (110 hurdles), Shaton Harris (100), Aaron Thomas (high jump) and Nathan Braster (shot put).
Other event winners were Concordia's Jacob Reinking (3200), Northrop's Tyshon Billingsley (300 hurdles), North Side's Tyvon Kelley 400.