Four Red Devils earn a medal in Division II
COLUMBUS - Getting onto the podium that sits on the infield at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium during the state track and field meet is the goal.
The goal was accomplished several times over again by Ohio Valley Division II athletes Saturday afternoon on the campus of sun-splashed The Ohio State University.
St. Clairsville, which won the regional title last weekend in Athens, enjoyed a much better showing than it did after winning the regional crown a year ago.
Junior blazer Jaylon Brown made sure of that. On top of the team showing, he made amends for his own showing, which resulted in nary a medal after placing in the 2011 state meet as a frosh.
"Last year was a letdown and I've been saying all year that I wanted to get back onto the podium this year," Brown said.
Brown accomplished his goal. He actually accomplished something new in the process. He got to the podium twice. He placed third in the 100 and fourth in the 200, earning all-Ohio for the second and third times in his career.
"The feeling of being up there stayed with me since my freshman year and not being up there last year just pushed me harder," Brown said.
Brown's 100 meter dash time was 11.01 and reached the podium for the first time.
"Coming into the state, I was ranked sixth, so to move up three spots is a great feeling," Brown said. "I showed I was a lot faster than I could be."
And he came back later and ran the 200 in 22.50, but that time didn't sit well with him.
"I probably could have done a little bit better because I don't think I was warmed up enough," Brown admitted. "I feel like if I could have warmed up better, I could have done better, but I am still proud of what I've accomplished."
Senior middle distance ace Drake Walker made the most of his final appearance at the state track and field meet.
Walker, who is headed to Ohio University and doesn't plan on running competitively at the college level, earned his first all-Ohio finish. He ran two brisk laps in 1:55.56, which was good enough for fifth place overall.
"I knew I'd definitely have to get out fast because it's so hard to pass (people) in the 800," Walker said. "I just wanted to get into a good position and hold on, which I was able to do."
Walker called the trip to the podium, "amazing and one of the best feelings ever," after finally earning all-Ohio.
"I was disappointed last year, so running in fifth place was good," Walker said. "I am happy with my time, but really, I was more concerned about my place than my time."
The Lady Red Devils' dynamite distance duo of Juliana Madzia and Amy Castle arrived on the scene four years ago as part of the state runner-up St. C. cross country squad.
"We've really come full circle," Madzia said. "We were so young (on that cross country team) and still learning. We've stuck together, trained together and now here we are."
The best friends and training partners spent their final prep race in Columbus and ended up standing right next to one another on the podium following the 3200 meter run. Madzia finished fifth in 11:20.52 and Castle was seventh in 11:23.43.
"Being able to stand next to each other on the podium was a really, really great way to end our careers," Castle said. "It was just great."
Madzia, who is headed to the University of Cincinnati as a student, used a strong final lap to run herself back into a medal.
"For a second, in my head, I was thinking there's no way I can do this, but this was it," Madzia said. "I realized I had to push through it to get onto the podium and be where I wanted to be."
Castle, who opted to drop the 1600 to concentrate on the 3200, was solidly in the field throughout.
"It was a tough decision not to run the 16, but I wanted to play it safe and there's a lot more room for error in the 32," Castle, who will run at UNC-Asheville, said. "I wanted to make the podium, so I thought it was a better race for me."
Indian Creek's Alex Young had never been to the state track meet in any capacity prior to this week.
He not only got to the meet, but he headed back to Jefferson County with a fifth-place medal in a blazing time of 49.65. Keep in mind, this was just the sixth time Young had run the race. He joined the team after the Redskins were eliminated from baseball.
"I am more than happy," Young said after the awards' ceremony. "To be able to represent the Ohio Valley and run against such great competition has been an honor. I knew this was a big event, so I am just happy that I got here. The last three weeks have just been incredible to even think about. To come from playing shortstop to finishing fifth in the state in the 400 is just amazing to me."
Steubenville's Robert Hayden placed eighth in the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.35.
Big Red's girls got on the board when talented frosh Elise Watts placed fourth in the long jump. She improved her mark by nearly two feet from regional. She marked the sand at 17-ft-4.
Union Local's Kylie Russell took part in the pole vault competition Saturday morning.