Nothing against dad, but Yariel Soto would rather follow his mom’s lead.
The Centerville freshman did just that during Friday night’s Edwin C. Moses/Dayton Relays at Welcome Stadium. He was part of the winning high jump relay, anchored the sprint medley relay to second and ran on the fourth-place 4x400 relay.
- VIDEO: Centerville freshman Soto doing it all for Elks
- GALLERY: Edwin C. Moses/Dayton Relays High School Track Meet
That’s the kind of youthful speed and all-around ability that his mom flashed while a top sprinter in their native Puerto Rico.
“Mom was Puerto Rico’s top runner in high school,” he said. “My dad was a country guy, but he was able to catch her.”
As usual, the Elks swept both the boys and girls team titles. Centerville overwhelmed runner-up Wayne 94-62 to win the boys championship for the sixth straight season. Centerville also beat second-place Troy 84-61 to win its fourth straight girls title.
The Elks, with more than 200 runners on the team, are as loaded and deep as previous state-contending squads. The addition of Soto means the Elks could have a breakout performer for several more seasons. He clocked a 49.03 split in the 400 last week and set a freshman triple jump record of 40 feet, 10.25 inches. No wonder he wants to pursue the decathlon in college.
“I love this,” he said. “I just want to get some more records in the book and leave a name for that freshman title. There’s going to be some people out there but you’ve just got to run hard and train hard.”
Centerville boys coach Matt Sommerlot challenged the Elks after Wayne (boys) and Gahanna Lincoln (girls) won Elks Relays titles last week.
“We challenged the kids this week to come back,” he said. “It was good to be able to see them under the lights and perform like that.”
• Troy sophomore Christine Moser quickly warmed up to the various disciplines of the pole vault: speed, strength and agility. That’s why she dropped all other events to concentrate on her specialty since she began vaulting as a middle schooler.
“It’s very technical and it’s a sprinting event,” she said after clearing an individual best 10-6. “I’ve been lifting all winter. Our school record is 12-4, so my ultimate goal as a senior is to get 12-6.”
Moser topped out on her second attempt and missed three times at an elusive 10-9 (“I’ve been so close all season,” she said. Moser and freshman teammate Lilli Cusick (9-0) combined to tie Wayne’s Graysen Simmons (10-0) and Codi Scogin (9-6) at 19 feet, 6 inches.
• Canceled meets and poor baton handoffs have been too frequent for Stivers. That’s why a win in the girls 4x100 relay (50.01) was especially pleasing.
“We’re working on exchanges because the first couple of meets we didn’t do so good and the outcome showed,” Stivers senior anchor Armani Richardson said.
Richardson has been accepted to Tennessee State and hopes to run for the famed Lady Tigerbelles.
“I’m a Lady Tiger now so I’m just trying to continue my Lady Tiger path,” she said, laughing.
• Beavercreek junior Ben Ewert has fully recovered from a foot injury last season that hindered him through the season-ending state meet. He ran negative 400 splits and sped to a 1:58 anchor in leading the Beavers to a first in the 4x800 relay (8:22.08).
The injury “really hindered me for the state meet and I didn’t do very well,” he said. “I wanted to come back as a junior and redeem myself. So far, so good.”
Ewert’s best race is the 1,600 or mile. He also favors Louisville and Syracuse at the next level. His parents ran and met at Syracuse and eventually relocated to Beavercreek with a transfer to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.