Neither snow, nor cold, nor rain, nor, well just about everything that Mother Nature can send us in a Pennsylvania spring, could keep coach Tom Leeser and his Milton Black Panthers from finally getting a win over a solid Southern Columbia team.
In what coaches had expected to be a close meet when it was first scheduled early in the season, Milton used its depth to roll to a 96-54 Heartland Athletic Conference Division II victory over Southern on Thursday.
The win keeps the Black Panthers unbeaten as they face three meets in two days next week in their bid to repeat as HAC-II boys champions.
The Black Panthers (4-0 overall, 3-0 HAC-II) jumped on the Tigers (2-1, 2-1) early, dominating in their specialties: sprints and relays.
Southern coach Lanny Connor, whose Tigers defeated Danville 91-50 in the other meet in this double-dual, said his team could not recover from Milton’s depth advantage and its dominance in the sprints and relays.
He said that Milton would have swept all three relays had they not run a pair of freshmen in the 1,600 with the victory in hand.
“That’s the killer. It’s one of the things that just killed us. Other than Luke (Rarig), I can’t find a sprinter,” he said, noting that the Black Panthers swept the 100, took one-two in the 200 and 400 and the other two relays.
“Had they loaded the 4x4, that would have been 37 points where they beat us 36-1, so what can I do?”
Leeser said he believes his team is stronger than earlier in the year when it was originally scheduled to run Mount Carmel and Southern back to back.
But he also said he knew his athletes would have to perform well to win what he still thought would be a close meet.
“I thought coming over here we had to have a very good meet. I thought it should be a very close meet. They have good throwers, Rarig in the hurdles and jumps, (Andrew) Steely in the distance events, and they had some other kids scattered in there that were going to score points,” he said.
“Our kids needed to do what they are capable of,” he added.
Milton swept the 100-meter dash, took one-two in the 200, won the 3,200 and 400 relays, and also swept the high jump and pole vault.
Chris Reuss won the 100 in 11.5 seconds and the 200 in 23.0, and anchored the 1,600 relay.
In addition, Zak Lewis took the 3,200 (10 minutes, 53.9 seconds) and ran a leg of the 3,200 and Josh Guthrie edged Rarig in the 300 hurdles to help the winners.
Southern got a pair of wins by Rarig, who returned from an injury to take the 110 high hurdles in 14.7 and the long jump in 20 feet, 2 inches; teammate Steely won the 800 (2:02.4) and 1,600 (4:37.5) while also anchoring the winning 1,600 relay.
Trent Donlan also doubled for the Tigers, winning the shot put (48-4 ½) and the discus (135- 2 ½).
Leeser added, “I’m pleased. I like our team; I like the way our kids approach things. They have fun and they are confident. It’s a good group.”
Southern 91, Danville 50
Rarig won three events for the Tigers in their win over the Ironmen (2-3, 2-3). In addition to the 110 hurdles and the long jump, he also won the 300 intermediate hurdles in 41.0.
Steely won the 800 and ran a leg of the winning 1,600 and Donlan won the shot put and discus.
For Danville, Caleb Jones picked up a pair of wins, taking the 100 in 11.7 and the 200 in 23.7.