Up until last weekend, the Francis Howell Central boys track team had just one win in a big relay meet.
That all changed for the better in a big way last weekend at Fort Zumwalt East. Buoyed by strong performances in the relay events and help from the field events, the Spartans captured the Fort Zumwalt East Lions Relays last Friday with 122 points. Fort Zumwalt East was second with 119 points, while Holt (95), and Fort Zumwalt West (85) rounded out the top four teams in the boys division.
Fort Zumwalt South finished in eighth place with 47 points.
The win was just the second win of the season in a relay meet for the Spartans, who won at Francis Howell North Knight Relays on March 31. It came at an opportune time.
“It was another victory for the boys and it was a good time to have it,” Francis Howell Central coach Bob Bruer said. “This is a really good group that’s really bought in to what we’re doing and we’re excited about them.”
Howell Central was able to hold off Zumwalt East in large part thanks to sophomore distance runner Cameron Schwab’s 1,600 medley relay anchor leg. Schwab, took the baton handoff on the anchor leg against Zumwalt East senior standout Austin Perkins. In the final turn of the race, Perkins beared down on Schwab from behind but Schwab found one more gear, and held off Perkins to help cinch the team title for the Spartans.
“Cameron had about a 10 to 15 meter lead on Perkins and the start of the leg (Schwab) and was able to fight him off,” Bruer. “He heard the footsteps which prompted him to kick it into another gear and held Perkins off all the way through the finish line.”
Fort Zumwalt East had a decent day in the sprint relays as the Lions finished third in the 4 x 100 relay (45.13) and 4 x 400 relay (3:36.41)
The Spartans relay teams were strong again and the 4 x 100 relay team took first with a time of 43.38 while the 4 x 200 relay team was second to Fort Zumwalt South. The 4 x 400 relay team finished second to St. Charles West.
Field events and the 4 x 800 relay also yielded top finishes for Howell Central.
“One of the things we really like about our team is it’s not just the relays but the field events people like the pole vault and the high jump also help us out and give us a strong overall group,” Bruer said. “We have conference coming up in a couple of weeks and this (win) gives us to the confidence to do well in conference and then going into sectionals and then you have state.”
In the girls division, Fort Zumwalt West won the team title for the second straight season. The Jaguars topped the meet with 127 points. Runner up Holt had 99 points, followed by Francis Howell Central (93) and Fort Zumwalt South with 73 points.
The Jaguars distance group was dominant as they won the 1,600 medley relay (4:26), 3,200 relay (10:12), 6,400 relay (23:54), and the 1,600 relay (4:13).
Zumwalt West also fared well in the sprint relays with a second place in the 4 x 100 meter relay (51.95) and a victory in the 4 x 400 meter relay (4:13.42).
Although Fort Zumwalt South was not a contender for the team title, the Bulldogs still managed to break another record thanks to fabulous freshman sprinter Alicia Burnett.
Burnett, who only participated in the 800 relay in the meet, helped the Bulldogs to a victory there.
Burnett, along with Sophia Popp, Chloe Shafer and Alexis Walker set a new school record, winning the race in 1:46.