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Three Grizzlies claim titles on first day of MWL track championships

SPRINGFIELD — The first day of the Midwestern League Championships proved to be a pretty good one for the Ashland High School boys and girls track and field teams.

Three different Grizzlies won individual titles and Ashland almost nearly had a fourth win as competition at the two-day MWL district meet got underway on Thursday afternoon at Springfield High School.

Ashland senior Lili Richards captured the shot put title for the second straight year, with her second attempt of the day going 35 feet, 4 1/2 inches, beating the closest competition, Kate Bakken of Springfield, by nearly two feet.

Ashland junior Hazel Richards won the 3,000 meters with a time of 10 minutes, 4578 seconds, leading a group that saw three Grizzlies finish in the top five. Fellow junior Alex Hague finished in third (10:51.10), while sophomore Cassidy Caprari came in fifth (11:09.90).

Richards became the first Grizzly to win the 3,000 in 12 years. The last one to win it was Richards’ current coach, Natalie Chirgwin (née Hemphill).

Senior Ian Rinefort rounded out the trio of victorious Grizzzlies on Friday, taking the boys pole vault event at 13-02.

Ashland sophomore E.J. Holland was just edged out by 0.27 seconds in the boys 3,000 race by Marist senior Jerik Embleton, who won the race with a time of 8:35.46.

The 3,000 was the lone track event that held its final race on Thursday, with prelims taking place in every other concentration. All other finals will be held at the second day of the MWL Championships on Saturday, which begin at 10:30 a.m. at Springfield.

Contact Danny Penza at 541-776-4483 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.