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Rebels out to break records

COLUMBIANA — The Crestview boys 400- and 800-meter relay teams will carry some added motivation with them down to the Division III state track meet this weekend.

In addition to earning a high finish, both Rebel teams will zeroing in on the school records for their respective events when they take to the track Friday at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

“We’ve been dying to get them,” Crestview freshman Ethan Powell said. “I think they’re both well within reach. We came really close last week at regionals, and I think we can pull it off this weekend.”

The 800 team of Powell, junior Jayce Meredith and seniors Mitch Lindsay and Dan Moore qualified with a third-place finish at last week’s Massillon Perry regional. Their time of 1:31.07 is close to the record of 1:30.70 set in 2011 by the team of Nick Blower, Jake Mellinger, Kris Simpson and Kody Simpson.

The 400 team of Moore, Powell, junior Dylan Huff and senior Luke Wickline qualified fourth at the regional with a time of 43.59 seconds. The school record of 43.51 was also set in 2011 by the same foursome.

“Getting the school record is something we’ve talked about pretty much every week,” Wickline said. “We’ve been getting better all season and I think this is the week we can finally do it.”

The Crestview 800 team finished seventh at the state indoor meet, but started out the year with modest expectations.

“Us talking about getting the school record kind of started off as a joke for us,” Lindsay said. “We were 3 or 4 seconds behind it at first. But by the time the county meet came around it was down to two seconds and it’s been dropping ever since. Now it’s become a real possibility and we’re taking it seriously.”

Both teams showed steady improvement during the weather-hampered first month of the season, but things really started to come together at the Columbiana County Meet on May 1 when they each claimed first-place finishes at the expense of county power Salem.

“That meet showed everyone the ability we had and gave us a tremendous amount of confidence,” Lindsay said. “That’s when the idea of going to state started popping into our heads.”

“Salem is the best of the best around here,” Crestview coach Greg Woolman said. “At the start of the year, I didn’t think we had the times to get to state, but after seeing both teams beat Salem at the county meet, I thought we had a chance.”

A big part of their success, according to the Rebels, has been striking the right balance between hard work and fun. That was evident on Tuesday as they appeared very loose while getting ready for practice.

“If you just look at the way we act during practice you might not think we’re a successful team. We’re really just a bunch of goofballs,” Lindsay said. “But we put in a lot of work going back to the indoor season. It’s all paid off for us.”

It doesn’t hurt that the team members enjoy hanging out off the track just as much as competing on it.

“As a group, these are some of the closest-knit guys I’ve been around since I started coaching,” Woolman said. “They do everything together.”

“Every one of these guys is fun to hang out with,” Wickline said. “They all have something unique about them, which keeps things interesting.”

As a freshman, Powell said fitting in with the upperclassmen has been seamless.

“It hasn’t been difficult at all,” Powell said. “The guys who were here before me have been really accepting. It feels like we’ve been on the team together for years.”

As they prepared for their biggest meet of the year, the Rebels were aware things are going to feel different this season, but were trying to keep an even-keel.

“It’s definitely going to be more serious than any other meet we’ve run in, but we’re still going down there to try and have fun,” Wickline said.

“We’re not really changing anything about the way we prepare this week,” Powell said. “What we’ve been doing has obviously been working so far.”

Notes

¯ The 2011 Crestview 400 relay team finished third at state, while the 800 team finished eighth. They are the only Crestview relay teams to ever place at state.

¯ The boys Division III 800 relay state semifinals are set for 10:40 a.m. Friday. The semifinals for the 400 relay will follow at 10:55 a.m.

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