EAST LIVERPOOL -The clock was ticking.
In the end, the 2012 East Liverpool Early Bird Relays finished up just prior to the first flash of lightning as well as the ensuing storm that hit Columbia County.
When it was all said and done, the South Range boys and girls teams swept the meet.
East Liverpool’s Shae Long clears the high jump bar Friday at Mangano Track. (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Joe Savage)
The Raiders finished the boys meet with 52 points to finish more than 20 points ahead of second place. Edison ended up second with 30 points, East Liverpool placed third with 29 points, Indian Creek finished fourth with 27 points and Oak Glen finished fifth with six points.
"We did really well tonight," Edison head coach Jamie Evans said. "I am really excited. I know we came up a little bit short on the girls and boys side, but our girls really stepped it up today. We had some really great performances. Our boys continue to impress me every week. We are getting better and better.
"Like I was telling some of the other coaches I am really proud of them. We had a rough year last year. We had some kids who decided not to come back, but the kids who have stuck with us have really really excelled. They really, really work hard, and they are starting to see some rewards from that, so I am happy about that."
The Raiders won six events. The Wildcats and Redskins won two events. The Potters and Golden Bears each won one event.
South Range won the 4x200 relay (1:37.7), the 4x400 relay (3:41.1) as well as the 4x800 relay (8:59.1). The Raiders also won the 800 sprint medley (1:39.1), the distance medley (11:12) and the shot put (122-04).
Edison won the shuttle hurdle relay (1:08.6) and the high jump (16-04). JD Howell, Tony Pham, Erik Lee and Jake Ross made up the shuttle hurdle team for the Wildcats.
Indian Creek won the field event relay (50.6) and the 4x100 relay (47.4).
East Liverpool won the long jump (53-01.75).
"It's a different type of meet," East Liverpool boys head coach Scott Thornberry said. "It is sort of a fun meet. You don't really get a feel for the teams. We had fun.
"You could tell South Range had some nice runners tonight. It is a good hard work out. The kids get medals. They like that.
"It is back to the drawing board tomorrow. We will get started for the rest of the season, but their were some good performances. We had a few kids step up. Like I said, it is all relays, so it is really hard to get a fell.
"Coach Long and I looked at the splits, and we had some kids run pretty well tonight. I thought Shae (Long) had a nice night, and Justin Watkins ran well for us tonight. There were few kids that ran well. Tommy Mohney is always running hard. Zach English had a good meet, so we are encouraged. A lot of young kids ran and stepped up tonight."
The Golden Bears only took part in the throwing events. Oak Glen won the discus (357-04).
The meet was the Potters third in a week.
"It is tough, but we are getting stronger," Thornberry said. "We have got nice weather, and it is always nice to get out and run against competition. It just makes you better."
The Raiders won the girls meet by 14 points. South Range finished first with 78 points, Edison ended up second with 64 points, Indian Creek placed third with 42 points, East Liverpool finished fourth with 36 points and East Palestine finished fifth with 20 points.
"These relay invitationals are a little different," East Liverpool girls head coach Tonyea Roberts said. "The events are ran in a different order, and the sprint medley is different and the distance medley is different, so it is a unique event.
"The girls have to sometimes run a little more frequently the distances than what is usually asked of them, so the meet is difficult to put together."
The Wildcats and Raiders each won five events. The Bulldogs and Redskins each won one event.
Edison won the field event relay (58.9), the 4x100 (54.00), the 4x200 (1:52), the 4x400 (4:25.3) and the 800 sprint medley (1:58.9).
For the Wildcats, Tori Turnbull, Kaylinn Drabick, Andrea Artman and Maddie Williamson made up the field event relay team. Bethanie Bube, Kylie Long, Ashley Borsch and Nhung Tran made up the 4x1 team. Katelyn Pollock along with Borsch, Long and Tran were on the 4x2 team. Pollock, Long, Bube and Borsch made up the 4x4 team. Tran, Bube, Borsch and Pollock took part in the 800 sprint medley.
"As far as the girls side goes, we won five out of the eight relay events on the track," Evans said. "We had a few mishaps that might have cost us a little bit, but overall our girls performed extremely well.
"Katelyn Pollock jumped 5-4 tonight which is her personal best. She is only an inch away from our school record.
"Our 4x2 shaved three seconds off of their time. The 4x1 had their best time of the year. We won the sprint medley which is something we usually don't get to run, and it is interesting. We won the field event 4x1. It is interesting watching those handoffs and the girls who usually don't get to run all the time on the track like that.
"I am really proud of our kids tonight, the boys and the girls. I don't think we could have ran much better than we did.
"Hats off to South Range. They have got a really good team. We don't get to run against South Range and East Palestine very often. I know there is a lot of good tradition up here in Columbiana County and up north. It was nice to see a little bit of that tonight.
"Like I said, I wish we would have won, but I'm happy with where we are at. I couldn't be prouder of our kids tonight because they really competed, and that is what we have been talking about all year is compete every day, get better every day and this is one of those days we definitely did that."
South Range won the 4x8 (10:58.5), the distance medley (14:12), the shuttle hurdles (1:14.3), the shot put (82-01) and the discus (246-08).
East Palestine won the high jump (14-06).
Indian Creek won the long jump (39-00.75).
"The girls love running this meet," Roberts said. "We want them to have fun, but at the same time of course we still want them to do well in each of their events."
The East Liverpool boys will not be competing at the Ward Invitational today. Both Potter teams are scheduled to compete Tuesday at Buckeye Local and then Thursday at county-rival Beaver Local.
Roberts said it is tough competing in so many meets so close together.
"Yes, we have a pretty tough schedule," she said. "It seems that once the season is started we are just meet after meet after meet after meet. It makes it hard on the girls. It makes it difficult if there is like a relay handoff we need to fix it makes things hard, but we have to go with what we have got. We will try our best."