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Tigers’ Cordell, 1,600 relay team earn state berths

PIQUA — Tradition is everything to those who step on the track at West Liberty-Salem.

WLS-boys-relay

West Liberty-Salem’s Conner Karg takes the baton from teammate Kelvin Shank during the boys 1,600 relay at the Division III regional meet Saturday in Piqua. (EXAMINER PHOTO | AARON LaBATT)

The Tigers’ boys track and field team was determined to keep their rich history alive here Saturday at the Division III regional meet inside Alexander Stadium.

It has become an expectation to advance to the state meet in the 1,600 relay, and so it was not so much a surprise, but a sense of pride that came over the Tiger boys when the meet had concluded.

The group of senior Ross Hickenbottom and juniors Taylor Cordell, Conner Karg and Kelvin Shank had accomplished their mission and are now headed to Columbus after placing second in a time of 3:24.95.

“In my eight years as head coach, I can’t remember not making it to the state meet in the 1,600 relay, except for one year,” said WL-Salem boys head coach Bart Zirkle. “It seems like when the kids come to West Liberty they know it’s an honor to be chosen to run in the 1,600 relay.”

Cordell also qualified as an individual after finishing second in the 110 hurdles in a time of 14.95.

The top four placers in each event advanced to the Division III state track and field meet in Columbus on Friday and Saturday.

Minster held on to win the regional championship, edging Lima Central Catholic 81.5-71. Lehman Catholic tied Covington for third with 51 points each, Fairlawn was fifth with 36 points and WL-Salem was one point back in sixth with 35 points.

The 1,600 relay was an exclamation point to the end of the meet for the Tigers. Zirkle was thrilled with their second-place finish in 3:24.95. The foursome was close to a regional title, as the winning team posted a time of 3:24.80.

“They did a great job. At the Ohio Heritage Conference meet they ran a 3:32 and here at regional they ran a 3:24. We didn’t put Taylor in it until district because we felt it was necessary to put our best relay together. They ran inspired and are getting better.”

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