There will be 62 individual athletes and seven relay teams competing at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium this week for the state track championships in Divisions I, II and III.
One state champion returns in Archbold’s Dakota Stamm in the girls’ Division III 400. It will not be easy to repeat, though, as Stamm comes into the meet with the second-fastest time at 56.58. Abby Suszek of Willoughby Cornerstone Christian comes in with the fastest time at 56.18.
Ayersville’s Noah Fisher placed second in the Division III 3200 last year. After winning a state title in cross country last fall, Fisher is gunning for his first individual outdoor track title.
“I expect the title to come down to Fisher and Mapleton’s Drew Roberts,” said Ayersville coach Dan Mix. “There are five other guys who could push the pace for five or six laps and I hope they do. The faster the pace, the better chance Noah has of winning. Noah needs to come off the first lap at a controlled pace, so that he will have a kick left at the end. I believe that Noah is ready for the race.”
On the girls side, Mix has two individuals and one relay competing. Individually, Nicole Fishpaw will compete in the 100 and Teryn Bour will compete in the 400 and 200. Also, the 800 relay will compete, because of a qualifying time, after finishing fifth at regionals. The relay team made it, despite suffering through a bad handoff.
“Without a bad handoff, I think this relay team can get into the top three at state,” Mix said. “Teryn had her best 400 race of the season last week and if she does that again, she can finish in the top four. For Nicole in the 100 and Teryn in the 200, the goal is to make it into the finals. Then, anything can happen.”
For the Defiance boys, Mhalicki Bronson will be making his second state trip in the Division I 3200. He failed to place in the top eight last year. This time around, he holds the fourth fastest time, with a personal-best 9:16.21. Bronson will compete in the next to last boys race on Saturday, around 6:35 p.m. (The boys 3200 will immediately follow the girls Division I race, which starts at 6:20 p.m.)
“Mhalicki needs to run his typical race and he should be near the front of the pack,” said Defiance boys and girls coach Steve Wahl. “He is as tough as any runner I’ve seen in a long time and tough people succeed at the state meet. He knows he has the ability to run at this level. He just needs to correct a couple of minor mistakes he made and if he does, we look forward to a great race on Saturday.”
The Defiance girls have one relay team, the 3200 relay, and one individual, Shay Soukup in the 800. The girls relay, which comes in with the second fastest time, will run at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.
“This group (the 3200 relay) has had a great year so far, and deserve to end their season in Columbus at the state meet,” Wahl said. “They are peaking at the right time and I know they are all excited about this weekend. Three of them ran in Columbus last year and quite frankly, they did not run a great race. They are looking forward to representing themselves much better this year. They all know their roles: Lauren (Morales), a solid, competitive first leg and get us in it. Emily (Wahl), maintain our position. Then Katie (Crites) and Shay, catch up (if necessary), and bring it home. Looking at the times coming in, we are right there, but we know those times really mean nothing and it will boil down to who is really ready to run that day. Which teams can handle the pressure and the excitement will be the ones at the top of the podium.”
Soukup has the ninth-fastest time coming in, but is just one second away from finishing fifth.
“The girls 800 looks to be a really competitive field (and) there does not appear to be a huge spread in the times coming into the race between the fastest and slowest times,” Wahl said. “Shay will need to run a solid first lap and will need to make sure she is in position to give herself a chance in the last 50 to 100 meters of the race.”
Also in Division II, Napoleon’s Caitlyn Good will compete in the discus at 9:30 a.m. on Friday and Kaelynn Glanz will be in the 100 hurdles prelims at 2 p.m. Friday. The goal is to make it into the top eight, for Saturday’s finals.
“My throw at regionals in the discus was six feet less than my best,” Good said. “If I can get back to around my best throw (130-3), I can make the podium.”
Bryan has one girl, Taylor Peters (pole vault) and two boys, Tyler Manon in the 400 and Keegan Brown in the discus.
Peters, who will compete at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, placed 10th in the pole vault last year.
Manon has the second-best time in his prelim heat at 3:10 p.m. Saturday. Brown, who will compete at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, comes in with the 11th-best regional throw. However, if Brown can reach his season best of 186-8, that throw would put him right in the mix for a state crown.
Also competing in Division II will be Ottawa-Glandorf’s Grace Hoffman in the girls discus (seventh-best throw going in), Wauseon’s Xavier Torres (long jump) and Swanton’s Dylan Gilsdorf (1600). The long jump will take place at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
In Division III, Holgate’s Raena Willett will compete in the girls 1600 on Saturday at 10:05 a.m. She competed in the 800 last year at state and finished 10th. This year, Willett comes in with the third fastest time in the 1600 at 5:11.12. Kalida’s Kenzie Fortman, with the eighth fastest time and Leipsic’s Lola Wensink will also compete in the race.
“Raena’s going to have to run fast, because there are two girls who come in with a 4:55 time and another at 5:00,” said Holgate coach Scott Giesige. “But I think she has a (good) chance of making the podium.”
The Archbold girls have the third best time for Friday morning’s 3200 relay final, which will take place at 9:30 a.m.
Archbold also has the third-best time for Friday’s prelims in the 800 relay and the top time in the 1600 relay. Also, Gwynne Riley has the second best time going in, for Saturday’s 800 final and Kylie Sauder has the fifth-best time in the 800.
Leipsic’s Carlee Siefker has the best leap in the long jump, after jumping a regional-record 18-10.75. Also in the girls long jump, which begins at 1 p.m. on Friday, are Tinora’s Lexi Wachtman (eighth-place going in) and Hicksville’s Harlee Shuman (ninth). Shuman placed seventh in the state last year.
Columbus Grove’s Alyssa Ellerbrock, third in the state in the 3200 in 2018, and Erin Downing (ninth-best time) are both competing in the 3200. Also in the 3200 are Hicksville’s Makayla Sullivan and Ayersville’s Emma Doster.
Grove’s Madisyn Maag has the fifth-best throw in the discus and the eighth-best throw in the shot put. Rylee Sybert, fifth in the 200 last year, is fourth currently in the 200 and 10th in the 100. Grove’s 3200 relay will also be competing.
Patrick Henry’s Trista Fintel has positioned herself well, with the second best throw in the discus and third best in the shot put.
Also in possible position to place are Kalida’s 400 relay (first) and Hannah Berheide (fifth in the 200), Continental’s Katie Keller (fifth in the 300 hurdles), Ottoville’s Quinley Schlagbaum (seventh in the 300 hurdles) and Paulding freshman Claire Schweller (ninth in the pole vault).
Other Division III competitors are: Liberty Center’s 3200 relay, Burgin Bachman (100 hurdles) and the 1600 relay, Antwerp’s Heather Oberlin (shot put), Swanton’s Hannah Grabke (pole vault) and Bobbie Oberle (100 hurdles), Paulding’s 1600 relay, Delta’s Cassandra Lee (300 hurdles) and Hicksville’s Riley Figgins (high jump).
In boys Division III, Liberty Center’s 1600 relay has the second-fastest time going in and the third-best time in the 3200 relay, while Nathan Meller has the second-best time in the 800 and Wes Kundo the seventh-best in the 800. Kundo placed seventh in the state last year. Also, the Tigers’ 800 relay will be competing, as will Zach Bowers in the 400.
Kalida’s Josh Verhoff is looking good, with the second best time in the 100 and best time in the 200. Kalida’s 800 relay has the fifth best time.
Others who appear to be in contention to make the podium are: Columbus Grove’s 3200 relay (sixth), Delta’s Hunter Tresnan-Reighard (fifth in the discus and eighth in the shot put), Evergreen’s Reece Serna (third in the 200 and seventh in the 100), Fayette’s Brett Merillat (third in the 800) and Evergreen’s Mason Loeffler (ninth in the high jump).
Other area Division III competitors are Pandora-Gilboa’s 400 relay, Travis Maag (100 hurdles and 300 hurdles) and Bryce Basinger (100, 200 and long jump), Tinora’s Isaiah Colon (400), Delta’s Nate Kohlhofer (shot put), Patrick Henry’s Cam Gebers (shot put) and Columbus Grove’s Gabe Clement (pole vault).