ONTARIO — Shelby’s Haylee Baker is hitting her stride at the right time.
A week after being selected the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference girls track athlete of the year, Baker won a district championship in the 400 meter dash during the final day of the Division II district meet at Ontario High School on Saturday.
Her winning time of 59.12 seconds was just off last week’s MOAC-winning 58.57. The junior has her sights set on the school record of 57.5
“I’m trying to get the school record and I know these are the times to do it because I’m actually being pushed,” said Baker, who helped the Whippets to a third-place finish in the team standings with 64.33 points. “It’s going to be hard, but it’s definitely doable.”
Findlay Liberty-Benton won the girls team title with 113.5 points. Huron (103) was second.
Locally, Shelby led the way in the girls standings. Galion (60) was fifth, while Ontario (56) was sixth and Clear Fork (28) was 11th.
On the boys side, Huron won with 96.5 points, followed by Vermilion (93) and Liberty-Benton (84). Shelby (83.5) was fourth, while Ontario (65.5) was fifth. Galion (37) was was ninth, Clear Fork (19) was 11th and Wynford (10) was 12th.
The top four finishers in each event qualified for next week’s Division II regional meet at Lexington.Baker wasn’t the only Whippet to strike district gold Saturday afternoon. Kayla Gonzales won the 1,600 while Huck Finnegan won the 3,200.
Gonzales won the mile in 5:15.26, holding off Ontario’s Brie Trumpower (5:16.23) in a sprint to the finish.
“It definitely pushes me a lot because it’s a very friendly competition. Everyone pushes each other,” Gonzales said. “I’m happy with that. It was a good race.” Finnegan had an easier go of it in the 3,200. His winning time of 10:03.40 was almost seven seconds faster than runner-up Tyler Knestrick of Liberty-Benton.
“I think I took the lead with about 800 (meters) left,” Finnegan said. “I knew (Vermilion’s) Luke See had already run the mile. He was matching every move I tired to do but then I took the move I wanted to finish the race.
“Coming into this my legs didn’t feel the greatest. I just wanted to see what they were doing and if I felt good I would push the pace.”
The area's other district champs Saturday were Galion's Samantha Comer in the 100 hurdles (14.84) and Ontario's Logan Costa in the 100 dash (11.34).
The Lexington regional meet begins Thursday and concludes Saturday.