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District 1 Championships: Dock sweeps 2A titles; Wild, winning day for CB West Boys 4×8

Dock Mennonite's Austin Kratz takes home gold in the Class AA 100-meter dash at the District 1 Championships on Saturday, May 19, 2018. (Mikey Reeves/For Digital First Media)

CALN >> Austin Kratz broke a 37-year-old record in the 100-meter dash on Friday, then came back on Saturday and broke a 37-year-old record in the 200.

He anchored the first-place 4×100 relay and also took home the gold in the long jump.

Long before all that, the best sprinter and jumper in Dock Mennonite history did some pretty nice recruiting.

“I got Nick Smith out — he was a baseball player, and Praise Zoegar, I got him out — he was a transfer,” Kratz said. “This year, we were able to get a lot more people out. And it was really cool because in our 4×100, we have two kids that I was able to get to come out for the team, that weren’t gonna run track.

“Being able to come out and do so well, and have everyone else do so well today was amazing.”

The sight of Kratz rocketing down the Coatesville straightaways was a good metaphor for the weekend: the Pioneers pulled away from all competition, scoring an overwhelming 155 points to win the District 1-2A title. With the Pioneer girls also capturing the team title, Dock made it a clean sweep in the Class 2A competition.

Dock’s Austin Kratz crosses the finish line in the Class AA 4×100 relay at the District 1 Championships on Saturday, May 19, 2018.  (Mikey Reeves/For Digital First Media)

“At the beginning of the spring, with how well we did in winter, we set our goals on winning states,” said Kratz, who won a total of four district gold medals over the weekend. “We did everything we needed to and now we know we have a good chance next weekend.”

The Cheltenham girls captured their sixth straight district crown in Class 3A while Coatesville leads the pack on the boys side. With the pole vault event postponed to Sunday due to the weather, it is possible that either Neshaminy or Bishop Shanahan could come away with the team trophy in Class 3A.

Class 2A was a different story, as Dock dominated throughout. Church Farm was the Pioneers’ closest competition with 83 points.

Medals piled up in a hurry for Dock.

The 4×1 team of Zoegar, Smith, Austin Nice and Kratz went a sizzling 42.89. Dock also got second in the 4×8 (8:45.49) as well as the 4×4 (3:31.41).

Alex Martin won his second gold of the weekend, throwing the discus 145-8; Smith won the 110 hurdles (15.60) and 300 hurdles (40.82); Thomas Schreiber got third in the 110 hurdles (16.29) and third in the 300 hurdles (43.40); and Ian Anderson was fastest in the 800 (2:01.24).

Upper Dublin’s Madison Langley-Walker (right) and Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Taylor O’Brien battle it out during the District 1 Championships on Saturday, May 19, 2018. (Mikey Reeves/For Digital First Media)

And then there was Kratz.

The Arizona State-bound senior won the 100 with a 10.54 then won the 200 with a 21.04, replacing the previous record of 21.3 by Roger Johnson of Darby Township back in 1981.

“It’s huge redemption. For me, coming into this year, it was a big thing for me, making it to districts and making sure I didn’t false start,” Kratz said, referring to last year’s DQ in the 200. “Being able to run and break the record, it was a big weight off my shoulders.

“(Last year at districts), I dropped the baton in the 4×1 and false started in the 200. It was kind of something I had in my heart the whole time. I couldn’t believe I lost my team the title. I’m supposed to be a leader. I’m supposed to be somebody that they can depend on, and I put it on myself. So this year, being able to come out and win it, it was a big deal.”

The Pioneer girls racked up 156.5 points, outscoring defending champion Saint Basil (121).

“The girls really pulled it together,” said Pioneers coach Tim Eger, who has guided the Dock girls to four district titles in the past five years. He has also directed the boys squad to two titles in the past three years and three titles in the past seven seasons. “Last week’s win for the girls (at BAL’s) against Lower Moreland, a phenomenal triple A squad, was big. The girls were battle tested. They came out here and did a phenomenal job.”

Jenkintown’s Josh Jackson competes in the Class AA 3,200 meter-run at District 1 Championships on Saturday, May 19, 2018. (Mikey Reeves/For Digital First Media)

Abbie Woods won the triple jump (36-8.75), sophomore Kate Landis won the javelin (95-10), Elle Bergey was fastest in the 400 (1:02.75) and Audrey Schweizerhof went furthest in the shot put (32-3).

And then McKenzie Swartley raced to a pair of golds, in the 1,600 (5:25.07) and 800 (2:27.88).

“Abbie had a phenomenal round of jumps in the triple, and McKenzie, she’s just a monster,” Eger said.

“I was really pumped about the mile,” Swartley said. “I’m glad I could help and I’m glad we won (the title).”

It all added up to quite a memorable day for Dock.

“Credit to the squad, for recruiting and getting people out,” Eger said, “but we are graduating a lot of seniors so they’re gonna be hard to replace.”

Buck Wild

It was a crazy start to the Boys 3A 4×800 relay, especially for Central Bucks West’s Ben Bunch.

“I never have hit the ground before,” the Bucks’ leadoff man said flatly, “and now I can say I have.”

Bunch took a spill, but got back up and put West in position for the victory (7:54.50).

“Everyone was a little antsy on the start,” Bunch described. “There were four of us on the starting line and I was the third guy in. There was definitely some pushing at the start. Everyone had high emotions. So I just had to bounce back. And I wouldn’t want any other three guys coming after me to back me up.

“I definitely had a plan coming in,” he said. “I knew how I wanted to go out. It just goes to show you, it doesn’t always go according to plan. You need to be able to bounce back. And even though my second start wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be — I went out a little slow, I’m happy with how I bounced back.”

Central Bucks West’s Brian Baker runs in the Class AAA 4×800 relays at the District 1 Championships on Saturday, May 19, 2018. (Mikey Reeves/For Digital First Media)

West seemed determined to overcome anything, including the rainy weather at the start.

“When we got off the bus today, the first thing that our coach (Greg Wetzel) said was ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people,’” Bunch said. “We’re training in the snow, training in the rain. We’re never inside, so that just goes to show you the type of coaches we have and the type of high school we come from.”

Bunch handed off with confidence to Owen Shields, who filled in quite nicely for Jake Claricurzio, who would go on to get a silver in the open 800.

“I knew I could step up to the plate,” Shields said. “During our workouts, I was able to follow their pace.”

Shields had the Bucks in contention, and then Luke Fehrman put West in front for good.

“I was glad that I had somebody in front of me,” Fehrman said, “because I do like to chase.”

The chase was soon over, and Brian Baker brought it home, assuring the Bucks finished ahead of rival Pennridge (7:57.50) and defended their 4×8 title.

“The start was really tough. It happens sometimes, it’s part of the sport. I told my guys ‘this is a test, and we gotta step up,’” Baker said. “Credit to Ben, he wiped it off, went out and raced. I was really proud of him. I told him after the race that he really showed up today, stepped up to the challenge.”

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