ATHENS St. Clairsville won the Ohio Division II Eastern Regional team track and field boys title Saturday at The Plains High School with 48 points, beating second-placed Cambridge by six points.
"It was a great day," said Red Devils coach Ben Frye. "Days like this don't come around very often. We're very pleased and a little bit pleasantly surprised with today. We were just trying to get kids to Columbus.
"We really didn't anticipate something like this. This is something that we thought we were an outside shot, at best.
St. Clairsville’s boys captured their second straight regional championship Saturday at the meet at The Plains High School in Athens.
Union Local’s Kylie Russell reacts with coach Chase Clark after learning she’s qualified for the Division II?state meet in the pole vault.
HARRISON CENTRAL’S Josh Moore runs the anchor leg on the Huskies’ 4x4 team which captured the Division II regional championship Saturday at Athens High School in a time of 3:28.67. Moore was joined on the team by Blake Yoho, James Thompson and Dakota Malcomb.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE’S Audra Vrotsos reacts as she crosses the finish line on the anchor of the Lady Red Devils’ 4x2 with a second-place finish in the Division II?regional at Athens High School Saturday afternoon. Vrotsos was joined on the team by Kennady Walker, Ayla Stewart and Alli Greenwood.
"I'm so proud of these kids and what they accomplished. We had a lot of big-time performances today, by both our girls and boys. "
Junior Jaylon Brown led the way with wins in the 100 (11.08), 200 (21.82) and anchored the winning 4x100 relay team with Jesse Smith, Isiah Green and Jay Gossett in 43.79.
"This is wonderful," said Brown, who finished fourth in the 200 at the state meet as a freshman. "Last year was a letdown for me. My freshman year I qualified in four events (for Columbus) and last year I came out and didn't qualify for anything (due to injury).
"This year I'm doing my best to get back on that podium."
St. Clairsville's Drake Walker finished second in the 800 with his 1:56.19. Indian Creek's Max Lewis qualified fourth in 1:58.26.
The Red Devils' Michael Eaton qualified for the state meet on Thursday with a third-place finish in the pole vault at 14-feet.
St. Clairsville senior Juliana Madzia took the 3200 with an eight-lap time of 11:26.42.
"I wanted to go out in 5:30 for the first mile, try to do the next two laps pretty hard and then see what I could do after that," she said. "I would have liked to have run 11:05, but it's pretty hot today."
She now looks forward to Jesse Owens Stadium as she tries to add to the all-Ohio honor she earned in cross country.
"Next week is pretty important because I'm not running in college, so it's kind of my last hurrah," she said.
Senior teammate Amy Castle had an impressive double as she extended her season to Columbus by qualifying in the 1600 (third, 5:16.62) and 3200 (fourth, 11:38.80).
"I wasn't sure about the 1600," she admitted. "I have been hurt the last couple of weeks, so it was 50-50 if I would qualify. I am thankful for that kick in the last 200.
"As for the 3200, my parents have a saying, 'the rest is just gravy.' I'm very happy that I am going to Columbus in two events."
St. Clairsville's Kennady Walker, Ayla Stewart, Alli Greenwood and Audra Vrotsos qualified in the 4x200 with a second-place finish in 1:46.69. Walker, Stewart, Claire Slavik and Vrotsos then finished third in the 4x100 in 50.69. Both are season bests.
Vrotsos anchored both races and crossed the line both times with a big smile on her face.
"I knew that we had made it in two events and it's a really great feeling to get back to Jesse Owens again," she said. "We were striving to do our best and we just focused on our race and really nothing else.
"We work pretty hard in practice on our handoffs because we know how important that is."
She also missed a trip to Columbus last year after making it there as a freshman and sophomore.
"I really wanted to make it back there my senior year because it's such a great feeling," she said. "It was a real disappointment last year to go and watch.
"As a senior, to finish it off at Jesse Owens is a great feeling."
Red Devils senior Alyssa Robinson will also double dip in Columbus after placing third in the discus at 112-02. She is also the defending state champ in the shot put.
The St. Clairsville girls finished fourth with 54 points.
The Harrison Central foursome of junior Blake Yoho and seniors James Thompson, Dakota Malcomb and Josh Moore are regional champs with their 3:28.67 in the 4x400.
"This is the best feeling ever, the best," said Yoho.
"I was staring at the guys in front of me with an angry passion in my heart trying to catch them," said Thompson.
"We're chasing after a (school) record right now and we have one more shot at it," said Malcomb. "This is our coach's last year, so we have to give it all for him. He wants to end on a good note, so being regional champs and going to states is a good way to start that."
Moore received the baton in third place.
"You always have to run like you're in second, no matter what," he said. "You have to finish first at the end, but whether you're in first or second or wherever you are, you have to run like you're in second.
"It's awesome to be able to go back to Columbus."
Union Local senior Collin Jones continues to improve in the 300 hurdles. His 39.90 was good for second place and his first trip to Columbus.
"That race was huge, it's what I've been working for all year," he said. "I really wanted the win, but just the fact that I qualified made it just as good.
"I just want to keep dropping time. I broke the 40-mark and I just want to keep going down. I'm happy with it."
Jones went to Columbus his freshman year as an alternate, but never raced.
"Just to be able to see what it is in Columbus is amazing," he said. "It's a whole different atmosphere."
Union Local sophomore pole vaulter Kylie Russell, a neophyte to the sport, is also heading to Columbus after a mark of 9-foot-9 to place second.
"This is my first year, so being able to go to states is just an amazing feeling," said a smiling Russell. "I didn't have any nerves. I was pumped and excited and ready to go."
She has come a long way in a short period of time.
"My goal at the beginning of the year was to get to districts to get a height, really," she said. "I've never done this before. But, to go to states my first year, I'm just really excited.
"I have a great coach in Chase Clark. He's taught me everything."
Martins Ferry junior Brian Styles and sophomores Hunter Hill, Jack Fitch and Andrew Watts qualified for next week in the 4x200 (second, 1:31.51) and 4x100 (fourth, 44.27).
"We came in here today to do our best," said Styles. "We wanted to do anything we could to make it to state. Coming into the season we knew our goals would be high. We tried to set them to be realistic, but, at the same time, to be able to push for something.
"Next week we'll see what we can run and hopefully we can make it on the podium."
Joining the sprint relays will senior Sean McGee. After failing to qualify in the discus on Thursday, McGee got the job done in his specialty, the shot put. He placed fourth with a put of 52-ft-5 and advanced to his second consecutive state meet. He was all-Ohio last year.
Indian Creek senior Alex Young continued his amazing run to Columbus as the baseball player turned track athlete clocked a 49.91 to win the 400.
Classmate and teammate Frank Kamarec had been talking to Young about running. So, about a week after the baseball team was eliminated from sectionals, Young traded baseball spikes for track spikes.
"The (track) coaches told me I had to come qualify, so I qualified and went to districts semifinals and finals and now regional semifinals and finals," he said.
Young has run 50.21, 50.98, 49.83, 49.91.
It appears Young will have the seventh-fastest timed heading into Jesse Owens Stadium.
Also qualifying for the Redskins was Max Lewis, who clocked a 1:58.26 to place fourth in the 800.
"I knew I was going to have to run faster than I ever had before," said Lewis, who set a personal best. "The kid in the lane I started with is the kid who won it (Hillsboro's Jarrod Hart in 1:55.66). I knew he was up there with Drake Walker. I thought if I could stick with him I would be OK and it worked out in the end."
Other locals also qualifying were:
Steubenville's Toshchel Demus (fourth, 100 hurdles, 15.45), Joey Nodianos (third, 110 hurdles, 15.15), Elise Watts (fourth, long jump, 15-6.75),
Robert Hayden (second, 100, 11.27), Hayden, Garon Lytle, Nodianos and Perrier Coleman (fourth, 4x200, 1:32.24), Watts, Demus, Cierra Macon and Shilynn Crawford (fourth, 4x100, 51.05) and JaQuan Lavender (third, 400, 50.81).
Edison's Katelyn Pollock (third, long jump, 15-11).