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EC Track Members Hit Columbus, Make Statement
Most sports at Elyria Catholic finished before Elyria Catholic High School let their students out for the summer season, but a select few student weren't done with their sport season yet. The Elyria Catholic Boys and Girls Track and Field teams had representatives in the State tournament in Columbus this past weekend. For the Girls, it was the 4x100 relay team of Juniors Karissa McGrath, Brandy Daniels, Kalynn Daniels, and Sophomore Danielle Dziak that made it to the big stage. For the Boys, it was the Sophomore pole vaulter, Lucas Ball.
On Friday (the State semi-finals), the Girls relay team finished 3rd, which allowed them to move on to the State finals the following day. Come the following day, the Girls relay team finished 3rd overall in the state tournament making Elyria Catholic history.
"It's a really great feeling to have even made at as far as state let alone getting third place. It was a great way to start the summer off." Junior Brandy Daniels states.
Not only did the girls place 3rd in state, but the four girls broke a school record. The relay team had already made EC history by being the first girls relay team to make it to states, but they broke the 50.3 second school record clocking in at 49.72 seconds.
"We have been striving all year to get under 50 (seconds), so reaching that goal today by so much was amazing." Dziak shared, "That was probably the best thing about the race. We were so surprised to learn our time, more than a second faster than the record set by last year's relay team."
Brandy Daniels and Danielle Dziak say that chemistry helped them get as far as they did in the post-season.
"We've all come so far as teammates, and now have a really strong friendship. We always enjoy being around each other and having fun together. The friendship that we've built helped us connect and work together as well as we have." Brandy Daniels explains.
"I think we pair together so well because we are all easy to get along with and bring out different sides of one another." Dziak shared, "Brandy and Kalynn are kind of one in the same very energetic, fun, and loud while Karissa and I are a bit more low key. We are always making jokes, and I think that takes the pressure off and makes everyone feel more at ease and comfortable. We all know when to focus and look to each other for support. The days we spent together this weekend even further bonded us together."
This past experience was unique for Dziak, due to her being the only underclassman out of the four girls. "I think I may have been a bit more nervous than the other girls, but the difference was not really noticeable. The three of them are just like big sisters taking care of me. I never felt any more pressure than expected because of my age. "Brandy Daniels also explains what it was like sharing this moment with her twin sister, Kaylnn. "It was great to be able to share this with my sister because not everyone can have that chance to be able to run and share the same experiences with their sibling."
The same group of girls broke the school record for the 4 x 200 relay clocking in at 1:48:07 at Regionals and placed 6th with that time. The record was set in 1984. "Setting the school record from 1984 was really cool. We were not able to qualify for the state meet with that time, but it was enough just to set the record." Dziak said. "Overall we just had really great coaches and kept working hard to achieve our goal of getting to state this year. Since none of us are seniors, hopefully we will have a chance to do this again next year and go for the gold." Brandy Daniels cared to say.
On the Boys side of things, pole vaulter Lucas Ball made state for the second year in a row, only as a Sophomore. Ball pole vaulted 13' 6" in the State meet and placed 8th. "My overall experience is great (at states), I didn't really have the jitters as much as I did last year because I knew what the atmosphere was like." Ball said. "A lot of things go through my mind as I'm running down the runway preparing to vault. The environment is great. Hearing all the fans screaming, it gives me the chills. It's just amazing." Ball described.
Ball had also broken a school record on his road to states "I broke the record for the third time this year, but this one was the best. I ended up clearing fifteen feet on a fifteen foot pole, which means the pole was lower then the bar. After I did that all my emotions let out. I was so happy."
Lucas Ball also took time to explain how he prepares for pole vaulting, because it is such a unique sport.
"Preparing for can be difficult but simple at the same time. Only because a lot can happen from running, to planting, and then to swinging up to get over the bar. Every year I focus on one thing to make better. So in practice we really hit that one spot hard and keeping doing it until it is perfect."
Not One, but Two, Lou Rotunda Award Winners
This past year was a first ever in Elyria Catholic history.
"Mr. EC" himself, Mr. Lou Rotunda, was not in attendance with us at the baccalaureate mass, and the award ceremony. Mr. Rotunda passed away last August, but his legacy, and famous award still lives on in the Elyria Catholic Community.
A new tradition has been started at Elyria Catholic where a past Lou Rotunda Award winner will now present the award that year's winner. The EC community invited 2010 Lou Rotunda Award winner Spencer Roule to present the award to this year's recipients.
For the fourth time in the award's 52 year existence, the award was shared between two male athletes, Ryan Lutke, and Joe Dempsey. Dempsey was the boy's track captain, basketball captain, and football captain this past year. Lutke was a two time boy's soccer captain at Elyria Catholic, he also participated in boy's swimming this past year.
Dempsey and Lutke know of Mr. Rotunda's great legacy here at Elyria Catholic, and both even mentioned they were pallbearers at Mr. Rotunda's funeral.
"Mr. Rotunda was a fiery man of passion and success. He loved winning; in fact, he even thrived off of winning. Sports were his passion and he cared dearly about all of Elyria Catholic's teams." Dempsey stated, "He would write our football team letters before games giving encouragement and providing the perspective of an ultimate competitor.
Dempsey even had the opportunity to meet Mr. Rotunda as an underclassman. "As a sophomore on the Varsity basketball team, I visited him at the Abbewood in Elyria where he stayed and listened to the pearls of wisdom that came from his mouth. He always seemed to know what he was talking about and know what it took to win. I enjoyed all the time I spent in his presence. I am honored to receive the Lou Rotunda Award with the name of such a great man with a historic legacy."
Lutke said that although he never met Mr. Rotunda, Mr. Rotunda still served as a great role model for him. "Unfortunately I never got the chance to actually meet Mr. Rotunda. I knew who he was and I was familiar with his history with our school, but sadly I never had the opportunity to meet him. I was asked to be a pallbearer for his funeral this past summer and was honored to serve in that capacity. As an athlete at Elyria Catholic, Mr. Rotunda will always be a role model for me."
Both men were very excited and honored to win such an award, and are very humble to be a part of Elyria Catholic history. "I could not have been more honored in any other way than winning the Lou Rotunda Award. One can simply look at the list of previous winners and see great athletes and great men up and down the list." Joe Dempsey said. " The award means so much to me. Ever since I have had knowledge of the award, I have strived to do my best to win it."
"I couldn't believe it. I was absolutely stunned. This award is especially significant because it is a tradition at EC that Mr. Rotunda began, and now it will continue in his memory."
Lutke shared, "The time and energy that Mr. Rotunda put into strengthening the name of EC Athletics is so admirable and I am very grateful and very honored to be considered among some of the athletes who have displayed the same dedication that Mr. Rotunda did."
Neither Dempsey nor Lutke minded sharing this award with one another, both have powerful respect for each others athletic, and academic ability. "Joe is an incredible athlete." Lutke said right off the bat, "He knows what it takes to be a serious student athlete and I have a lot of respect for him. I am very fortunate to receive this award with him. He is a good leader both on and off the field and he has put his heart and soul into sports at EC for the past four years."
"Winning the award with Ryan is a great privilege." Joe said, "Ryan is a great soccer player, hard worker, diligent student, and an even better person. He is certainly worthy of the award and I am thankful to be able to be recognized along with him."
Lutke is attending Slippery Rock College to play soccer next fall. "I would like to say thank you to all of the people who have supported me in my four years at EC: my mom and dad, my teammates, coaches, family and friends. I could not have become the person I am today without them." Lutke said gratefully, "I would like to especially thank my sister Courtney (EC '10) who set a great example for me in her high school years and gave me footsteps to follow in."
Dempsey will attend John Carroll University this upcoming school year in University Heights, Ohio. "I would like to thank God for making everything possible for me. I would also like to thank my parents and brother for their endless support and my grandma for being the ultimate fan. I would like to thank all of my coaches along the way for giving me the opportunity to do my best and believing in me. Also, I would like to thank the entire Elyria Catholic community for giving me a home away from home and supporting me on and off the field, court, or track."
Official Elyria Catholic Sports Reporter
Jake "Scoop" Hromada '14
Elyria Catholic High School
725 Gulf Rd., Elyria, Oh 44035 | Phone: 440.365.1821 | Fax: 440.365.7536