Ottawa — The Free State High boys track and field squad ran away with the team title at the Ottawa Relays on Friday despite winning just four of 18 events.
"We're pretty balanced and that's something we always try to work on," Free State coach Steve Heffernan said following the seven-team meet. "This is a meet where people can come out and get some experience and maybe won't have the opportunity later in the season. ... For this to happen and to win this meet is always kind of a feather in the hat for our guys' team."
The Firebirds' Keron Toussaint had a stellar day on the track as he anchored the winning 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter relay teams and finished second individually in the 200.
However, things weren't easy for Toussaint in the 1,600 relay, the final event of the day. He started the final leg in a virtual tie with the Olathe Northwest's Ethan Holloway, who beat Toussaint by .07 seconds in the 400 at the Class 6A state meet a year ago.
But in the final 100 meters Toussaint made sure he didn't fall victim to Holloway once again.
"I could have had him at state last year but messed up, so it was a different year, a whole new season. ... I know I'm not going to ease or let up and let anyone beat me this year," Toussaint said.
The 3,200 crew of Toussaint, J.D. Wiebe, Dale Coons and Jake Jordan finished with a time of 8:36.8 - two seconds ahead of the Blue Valley team.
Gabe Moss won the 3,200 by 10 seconds after he finished just two seconds out of first in the 1,600.
Todd Lee had Free State's lone winning finish in the field events with a mark of 12 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault.
"That vault was just one inch off our school record, and to do it in the second meet of the season we think he's going to break the school record," Heffernan said of Lee, who is in just his second year of vaulting. "Not only is that great now here, but that's great for down the road when we get to league, regionals and state."
For the girls squad, Kyra Kilwein had a strong showing in the 3,200, claiming first with a time of 12:04.2 - 10 seconds ahead of the next runner - while teammate Jeannie Reems finished fourth.
Kilwein and Reems also were part of the Free State 3,200 relay team - with Julia Guard and Haley Harrington - that finished at 10:30.1 and took first.
While Free State was strong in the long-distance events, Mill Valley's Justin Woods stole the show when it came to the short track. Woods set Ottawa Relays records in the 100 and 200 dashes.
His time of 10.6 in the 100 was just 0.2 ahead of teammate Matt Sittenaur, while he barely clipped Toussaint with a 21.9 in the 200 - all this with a bum ankle.
"Earlier this week I rolled my ankle, so I wasn't up to par yet," Woods said. "But with my ankle hurt and me doing what I did today, I thought I did good overall. It was a tough day with a lot of competition, and I knew coming into the meet that it wasn't going to be easy."
Woods also ran the last leg on the winning 400 relay team consisting of Josh Grimes, Nick Woods and Matt Sittenaur. The race was the first the foursome has run together at a meet, and things already are going smoothly. They set a new school record.
"We actually got our exchange down the first time we handed off. It's like we're meant for each other," Justin Woods said. "But there's a lot more meets to go, and we haven't reached our peak yet, so we'll see what we can do."
However, Woods' performance wasn't enough for the total team results as the boys finished in fourth place.
The Mill Valley girls, on the other hand, won the team title in a landslide with a total of 133, with second-place Blue Valley accumulating 96 points.
Jasa DuMontelle was the only individual first-place finisher. She took the high jump by clearing 5-0. Mill Valley's 400 relay and 1,600 relay teams came out on top as well.