MADISON TOWNSHIP — Kari Eckenwiler’s encore may be even better than the opening act.
The Richland Bank Athlete of the Week, Eckenwiler won three events and was seven-hundredths of a second from joining Madison teammate Taylor Huff as a four-time champ at the season-opening Madison Invitational at STARTEK Stadium on Friday.
A sophomore, Eckenwiler struck gold in the 300 hurdles and the long jump and ran the leadoff leg of the winning 400 relay team. She finished second to Ashland’s Katie McQuillen in the 100 hurdles as the Madison girls easily won the team title.
“Kari had a very good night, but that comes as no surprise,” Madison coach Andrew Saris said. “She had a great freshman season for us last year, so we are expecting big things from her.”
Eckenwiler was selected the Ohio Cardinal Conference girls track and field overall athlete of the year after leading the Rams to their first ever OCC title last spring. She qualified for the highly-competitive Division I Amherst regional in the long jump and both hurdle events and as a member of the 400 relay team.
With the return of Eckenwiler and the addition of Huff, a sophomore who has verbally committed to play soccer at the University of Tennessee, the Rams are in position to defend their OCC title and make some noise in the postseason. Madison will again compete in the Division I tournament.
Eckenwiler and Huff are members of Madison’s ultra-talented sophomore class.
“A lot of those girls who were freshmen last year are a little more experienced and they are trying to be leaders,” Saris said. “Combine those girls with a group of upperclassmen and you’ve got the makings of a solid team. I was really impressed with all of them.
“We had a lot of great performances between Kari and Taylor and Phyllis Stanfield and Chesney Davis Emily Atwell and Adrianna Russell. I could go on and on.”
When the final scores were announced Friday, the Madison girls collected the team trophy and took a victory lap together.
“What’s awesome is watching them get the trophy as one team,” Saris said. “They are all together. That is pretty special.”