The Boston Celtics vs. the Detroit Pistons in

By David Carducci Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The Boston Celtics vs. the Detroit Pistons in the late 1980s. The Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Cleveland Browns in the 1970s and 80s. The Boston Bruins vs. the Montreal Canadiens for most of this century.

More often than not, meetings between those teams included brawls, bloody noses and broken bones.

The rivalry between Field and Crestwood, which culminated Friday afternoon in the finals of the 4x800 relay at the state track and field championship meet in Columbus, is very different.

But then track is a different type of sport.

Field came from behind to win the school's third track state championship with a time of 8:00.93, while Crestwood finished third.

In the end, no harsh words. No dirty looks.

Just a genuine appreciation for the talent on the two Portage County League schools.

"I'm very happy for Field," said Crestwood senior Nathan McClintock. "I think it is neat that we were both down here. And for Field to finish first and us to finish third, I think that says something about the PCL. A lot of people in the state don't even recognize our league."

For the Field runners, winning a state championship was made all the more special by having Crestwood right there with them the entire race.

"We're both tough teams, and having Crestwood here with us made it a lot of fun," said Field's Mike Shriner. "We both definitely have a lot of respect for each other."

That respect comes from the battle the two 4x800 teams have had all season long.

"Every time we ran head-to-head it was tight," said Field coach Bill Huntington. "This made it three out of the last four that we've beaten Crestwood, but every time we've run them it was back-and-forth, back-and-forth."

Those tight races between the two teams prompted Crestwood coach Don Faix to predict "that we'll follow Field all the way down to the state meet," after finishing second to the Field at the PCL championship meet last month.

The prediction held true, with the Red Devils following closely behind the Falcons as they won the district championship at Salem and the regional championship at Kent.

Crestwood followed Field right into the same starting lane _ lane four _ on Friday.

And as expected, the race was a fitting end to the two team's seasons, running one-two for most of the race.

Crestwood's strategy was for Eric Berg to bust out quickly in the first leg _ which he did, holding a lead of between 15 and 20 meters for most of the first two laps.

"But Mike Hall did a good job of closing in the first leg and made it real close at the exchange," said Huntington. "There was no more than a split-second between Berg and Hall."

After McClintock re-built the Crestwood lead after the second leg, senior Chris Hudik brought the Falcons right back in the third.

Hudik, who took the baton in third place, tracked down Crestwood's Dan Lynch in the final turn before handing to anchorman Nate Hutchinson with a five-meter lead.

"As soon as Hudik passed (Lynch) in the third leg, I knew it was over for Crestwood," said Huntington. "I knew once Hutchinson had the baton, he would finish ahead of Crestwood, but I didn't know about either (Dayton Christian or Shelby)."

Huntington was right to worry about Dayton Christian.

As Hall and Hudik had done earlier for Field, the Crusaders anchor David Dingeman made his move in the final turn and eventually pulled even with Hutchinson 40 meters from the finish line.

But luckily Hutchinson had saved enough energy for one final burst to hold off Dingeman by less than three-tenths of a second, 8:00.93 to 8:01.20. Crestwood's team of Berg, McClintock, Dan Lynch and Nathan Harjung finished in 8:02.30.

"I ran really conservatively, and that helped," said Hutchinson. "I was scared of running out of gas, so I just wanted to save energy and I didn't want to lose it at the end."

For all four field runners, the 4x800 victory was the second state championship of the school year after winning the team title at the state cross county meet during the first weekend of November.

"I think the (cross country) victory was more of a surprise," said Hudik. "We came in there ranked 19th in the state."

In the 4x800, the Falcons came in with the second-best regional qualifying time (8:00.75) to Dayton Dunbar (8:00.66).

But Huntington wasn't convinced that made Field a favorite.

"Anything can happen when you get down here," he said. "Benedictine had a team that very easily could have won, and they finished (eighth, 8:07.3). They had the third fastest time coming in, so I would have been happy no matter where we finished ... But this morning the guys had the same look in their eyes like they had at the cross country meet. Like 'we can get this job done.' They were up for the challenge."

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.