Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Blue Devils win Fairview Warrior Relays

Independence’s boys’ track team on Friday found out just how much having depth can help a team in a competitive meet.

The Blue Devils won four individual events on their way to claiming the team title.

“Everything kind of came together,” said Independence coach Craig Polman. “I’ve been working hard to get some people out on the team that should be on the team. That’s the battle. I say every year there’s a conference championship walking the hallways but it’s hard to get the kids to come out and do it. Fortunately I was able to get some people out. This was the first meet that we were really fully there as a team. They really saw what their potential was for the season. That’s good because hopefully it will spark them to continue to be enthusiastic and work a little harder.”

Independence won the high jump relay, long jump relay, distance medley and the 1600-meter run.

“That’s really how you do well at a meet like this,” Polman said. “Everything is a relay and you only have one entry per event. (Winning) is how you get some separation.”

Tyler Polman won the 1600 with a time of 4:43.91. Kevin Clymer was fourth in 4:57.43.

Polman and Clymer teamed up with Colin Jedrzejek and Dominic Durdella to win the Distance Medley in 11:36.27.

“That was probably the turning point of the meet,” Coach Polman said. “It was late in the meet and we won that. Cuyahoga Heights, who we were in a close battle with, was sixth so we picked up nine points on them and were able to hold on.”

Jedrzejek ran the 800-meter portion of the event while Durdella ran the 400, Clymer took the 1200-meter leg and Polman anchored the squad with a 1600-meter run.

“That was a come from behind win too,” Coach Polman said. “We were down about 10 seconds going into the final leg. It was a good battle. Tyler finally caught the kid with about 100 meters to go. We needed every second of that leg.”

Independence’s 800-meter sprint relay team of Jared McCullough, Durdella, Ryan Zygmunt and Sam Belitz finished second with a time of 1:39.77. The 4×100-meter relay team of Kevin Mewhinney, Nick Brunsman, McCullough and Durdella finished third (46.77). The 4×200 relay squad of Belitz, Zygmunt, McCullough and Brunsman also was third (1:36.34).

Belitz and Ben Artrip both cleared six feet in the high jump while Robert Artrip was fifth in the pole vault (10-0).

Brunsman finished second in the long jump with a distance of 19-9 and Mason Crist cleared 18-3.

Ben Artrip had a strong performance in the throws as well. He threw the shot 40-feet, 11 inches and the discus 125-7.

“Sam and Ben high-jumped really well, clearing six feet for the first time this season,” Coach Polman said. “Robert Artrip had a personal best in the pole vault with 10 feet. The long jump relay that won kind of came out of nowhere. That’s been an event we struggled with finding people. Nick Brunsman came out of semi-retirement and long jumped 19-9, which was terrific. Mason was injured so this was his first competition of the season. He did fairly well and Kevin Mewhinney had a season best there. I was looking to field a team that could just get us some points in there so I was kind of surprised they came out with a win. They all jumped very well.”

Ben Artrip was pleased with his overall performance.

“I'd say high jump was the best of the day,” he said. “I had some difficulty finding my steps, but it was great to get over 6-feet again and we got the win which helped the team win the meet. Discus and pole vault both went fairly well as I’m finally starting to get back into form with the warm weather. Shot put has been a little disappointing as I had to switch from the spin to the glide because I couldn't get into a good throwing position. I’m just glad we won the meet. It’s always more fun when you're putting together good strong team performances.”

Independence’s girls’ team was shorthanded as top sprinter Christina Brunsman was out with an injury and top distance runner Dana Zaccardelli was ill.

“Neither participated in the meet and obviously in a relay meet without your best sprinter and distance runner you’re already behind the eight ball,” Coach Polman said. “Our throwers did pretty well. The girls were second in the shot put and the discus.”

Daniela Radujkovic threw the discus 85-feet, 7 inches and the shot 30-11 ½. Lauren Grande threw the discus 84-6 and Martha Clymer had a shot put distance of 28-3 ¾.

“That was Daniela’s best discus throw of the season,” Polman said. “She has thrown the shot further but it’s still early on and we haven’t had good weather until that meet.”

The Blue Devils return to action on Saturday at the Cleveland Heights Weingart Relays.

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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