Area contingent set for state meet

For 34 area track and field athletes, the season has come down to one weekend.

The quest to get to Columbus for the Ohio State Track and Field Championships has been accomplished.

However, none are content with just heading to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University this weekend. The next goal on the list is to reach the podium and possibly bring home the coveted the state championship.

That mission for the podium resumes Friday morning and continues Saturday. The meet begins with Division II field events and Division III running events at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Division II running begins at 1:30 p.m. and Division III field events will be completed on Friday. They’ll begin at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The remaining Division II field events get things started at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Division III’s running finals begin a half hour later. The Division II running finals begin at 1 p.m.

Once again this year, the OHSAA is utilizing all nine lanes at Jesse Owens Stadium, meaning nine will advance to the finals, but only eight will score for his or her team. Also, the top two finishers in each heat, plus the next five fastest times, regardless of heat, will advance.

New for this year, is the addition of four events for wheelchair competitors. Those are are the 100, 400, 800 and shot put. Those events will all be contested on Saturday.

IN DIVISION II, St. Clairsville’s boys, fresh off their second consecutive regional championship, will take a solid collection of individuals to the state meet.

Leading the way for Coach Ben Frye’s team is junior jet Jaylon Brown, who will compete in two individual events and anchor the Devils’ 4×1 team.

Brown, an all-Ohioan as a frosh, is competing in his third state track meet. He’ll run the 100 and 200 meter dashes after winning regional crowns in both events.

In the 100, Brown posted an 11.08 and that ranks him seventh overall entering the weekend. He’ll be running in Heat 2, Lane 5. The defending state champion, Lamar Hargrove, will be in his heat in Lane 3.

In the 200, Brown blazed the track for a career-best 21.82, which ranks him third overall after regional competition. His team puts him in Heat 2, Lane 5.

The aforementioned Red Devils’ 4×1 captured the regional crown last Saturday as well. The team, which sees Jay Gosett, Isiah Green and Jesse Smith joining Brown, ran a season-best 43.79 to prevail.

That places the squad in Heat 1, Lane 5 with the 12th best time.

Junior Michael Eaton, an all-Ohioan in swimming, will make his state track debut in the pole vault. He soared over 14-feet to finish second. The pole vault in Division II is an absolute log jam, but five vaulters in the field have cleared 15-feet entering the weekend.

Eaton is scheduled as the 16th jumper in the competition, which will begin at 12-ft-6.

Running in Saturday’s 800 meter run final, for the second straight season, is senior Drake Walker. He was second in the regional, posting a 1:56.19 and is seeded eighth this weekend. He’ll begin the race in Lane 5.

The Lady Red Devils will also be well-represented and led by a defending state champion.

Senior Alyssa Robinson is about to embark on her third and final state championship meet and is seeking her third trip to the podium in her specialty, the shot put.

Robinson, who is bound for Penn State University, won the iron ball gold medal last season on the final throw of her competition when she marked at 44-ft-10.

She’ll enter the state meet seeded second with her regional mark of 42-ft-6 1/4. She’ll also enter undefeated for the outdoor season. Her best this season is 46-ft-7. The best mark from the regional is 44-ft-2 3/4.

Robinson will be the final thrower of the second flight in the competition, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday.

On Friday, Robinson will compete in her first-ever state discus competition. In a bit of a slump for much of the platter season, Robinson busted out a throw of 112-ft-2 to earn her trip to state.

Robinson will throw seventh in the first flight and is seeded 13th.

Senior Amy Castle, who is bound for UNC Asheville, will compete in both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. In the 1600, Castle is seeded 13th after posting a 5:16.62 in the regional.

Having already qualified in the four-lap race, Castle captured the double-qualifying with a 11:38.80, which puts her ninth in the field.

She’ll be joined in the 3200 by senior ace Juliana Madzia. An all-Ohioan in cross country last fall, Madzia will seek her first trip to the podium on the track. She posted a 11:26.42 to win the regional title last weekend and is seeded fourth in the event.

The Lady Red Devils’ sprint relay teams have also come on strong throughout the tournament.

The 4×1 team of Kennady Walker, Claire Slavik, Ayla Stewart and Audra Vrotsos posted a time of 50.69 in the regional to earn the trip. The squad will run in Heat 1, Lane 7 and are seeded 15th.

The 4×2 team, which has sophomore Alli Greenwood competing in place of Slavik, turned in a solid 1:46.69 to qualify. They’ll seek a berth in the finals from Heat 2, Lane 3. St. C. owns the 14th best time entering the meet.

Martins Ferry’s boys have five competitors making the trip to compete in three events.

Senior strongman Sean McGee will put the finishing touches on a brilliant prep career in his specialty, the shot put.

After placing fifth last season with a put of 54-ft-8, McGee is back in the field seeking another trip to the medals’ stand. He qualified after finishing fourth in the regional with a put of 52-ft-5.

McGee, who is seeded 11th this year, will take part in the first flight as the eighth thrower in the event, which is in the first wave of field events.

On the track, the Riders’ all underclass 4×2 team of Brian Styles, Hunter Hill, Andrew Watts and Jack Fitch turned in a silver-medal winning performance at the regional with a time of 1:31.51.

The foursome, which will all be making its debut at the state meet, will try to qualify in Heat 2, Lane 3. They own the 14th best time coming into the meet.

The same team advanced in the 4×100 with a time of 44.27. That squad will run in Heat 2, Lane 1 and have the 16th time.

Union Local will send a pair of individuals to the state meet, both of whom are making their initial trip.

Senior hurdling ace Collin Jones reached the state meet in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles after narrowly missing a trip last season.

Jones also achieved a personal best mark in getting to this point. At last weekend’s regional in Athens, Jones skimmed eight hurdles in 39.90 to finish second.

His reward is a berth in Heat 2, Lane 3 of the qualifying round. He owns the 12th best time in the field.

Sophomore Kylie Russell is entered in the pole vault competition. She qualified with a 9-ft-9 clearance. She’s one of just three competitors in the field under 10-feet. She’ll be the second jumper in the competiton, which is scheduled to begin at 9-ft.

Harrison Central’s crack 4×4 team will be in the state field for the second straight season with some new faces taking part.

As Ken Parker’s career as head coach winds down, he’ll send his foursome of Blake Yoho, James Thompson, Dakota Malcomb and Josh Moore into the fray. The squad won the regional title last weekend in Athens with a 3:28.67. They’ll run in Heat 1, Lane 5.

The foursome owns the 13th best time in the competition.

IN DIVISION III, the delegation isn’t as large in terms of numbers, but it’s still a high quality collection of talent.

River senior Cassidy McCullough is looking to put the finishing touches on a brilliant prep career this weekend.

The West Virginia Wesleyan-bound McCullough qualified in three events for this weekend and all are on the track, meaning she’ll be a very busy young lady on Friday morning.

McCullough’s day will begin with the 100 meter dash. She finished second in the regional at Fairfield Union with an impressive 12.45 clocking. Her reward is a spot in Heat 1, Lane 3 with the fifth-best time in the field.

A short-time later, McCullough will be on the track as the defending champion in the 300 meter low hurdles.

McCullough cruised to the state title last year, winning by more than half a second. She’ll be challenged to repeat as she enters with the second best time in the field.

At the regional, McCullough posted a 44.97, which is just a hundredth of a second slower than what she won the state title with last year and also a hundredth back of the fastest qualifier. Since she has the second-best time, McCullough will run in Heat 2, Lane 4 of the semifinals.

The biggest test of the semifinals will come in the 200 meters. McCullough has been splendid in the event all season. However, just 20 minutes separate the first heat of the low hurdles and the first heat of the girls’ 200, meaning a quick recovery will be needed.

McCullough ran a 25.59 to win the regional title last weekend, which puts her in Heat 2, Lane 5 for the semifinals with the sixth-best time overall.

Shadyside’s Tara Tollett had a trip to Columbus to remember last season. Taking part in the 3200 meter run, the Ohio University signee turned in an impressive 11:06.63 to take the silver medal.

After enduring an up-and-down regular season, Tollett has been running well in the postseason. She finished second in the regional at Lancaster in 11:22.74, which is currently ranked fifth in the field.

Tollett will begin her final eight high school laps in Lane 4 on Saturday afternoon.

Bridgeport’s Briana Massey is another who got her feet wet in Columbus last season and is looking to improve. She’ll have a chance to do so in the same event.

After sneaking into the state meet last season, Massey turned it on in the final 100 meters to finish second to McCullough in the 200 meter dash in a time of 26.50. That puts her 14th overall in the field this weekend and she’ll begin in Heat 2, Lane 3.

The Martins Ferry girls, who had a fine season, ran into tough times at the Navarre Regional in their second season in Division III.

However, the Lady Riders did manage to get their solid 4×2 squad to the state meet.

The foursome of Sarah Applegarth, Sunshine Wrenn, Ashley Griffith and Talyr Jenkins finished fourth in the regional in a time of 1:47.50.

That earned Ferry a spot in Heat 1, Lane 1 and is the 14th best time in the field.

The lone area boy to make the Division III field has been one of the area’s premier competitors all spring.

Using his fifth place finish in the 2012 regional at motivation, Barnesville senior Jacob Anderson has ran like a man possessed in the 300 intermediate hurdles.

Anderson, who won the OVAC title, has dropped time with regularity this season, including last week’s run in the regional at Navarre when he finished second overall in a personal-best time of 38.61.

The West Liberty signee owns the fourth best time in the field, which includes one competitor who went under the 38-second barrier. Anderson’s quest for the state final will begin in Heat 1, Lane 6.