An unlikely local trio could make the Division I boys discus competition rather interesting during the state track and field championships today and tomorrow at Dayton's Welcome Stadium.
Bowsher's Keith Dankert, Northview's Andrew Nicholas and Whitmer's Darnell Randolph are not considered favorites in the event. Actually, they're longshots in the competition that commences tomorrow afternoon approximately at 2:30.
Yet, the three seniors found out at the regional that anything is possible.
“It's just a matter of trying to connect on one of those big throws on the day that counts the most,” Northview coach Ross Deye said.
Reynoldburg junior Justin Kershaw owns the top throw heading into the state meet - 174 feet. Cincinnati Moeller senior John Harper has a throw of 173 feet.
Neither Dankert, Nicholas nor Randolph has recorded a single toss measuring 165 feet. However, their coaches have already witnessed the unexpected recently when they finished 1-2-3, respectively, at the regional in Amherst.
Dankert won last week with a toss of 154-2. Nicholas placed second (152-9) and Randolph third (152-0) for a Toledo-area sweep.
“It was pretty impressive to have Toledo finish 1-2-3 in the regional,” Bowsher coach Keith Hershey said.
Dankert has thrown as far as 164 feet this season after barely being able to toss the saucer-shaped object in the low-150 range a year ago. His best in practice this year traveled 170 feet.
Making his second straight trip to state in the discus, it's Dankert's first as a regional champion. Last year he was fourth in the regional.
His victory at Amherst represents the first regional title for a Bowsher boys track team member since the 1980s.
Based upon other state qualifiers, Hershey has his thrower finishing somewhere from “eighth to 10th” place. But there's potential for more.
Dankert's unexpected regional victory supports the idea.
“He's got the capability,” Hershey said. “We think he can place in the top four if he has a good day.”
Nicholas, 5-11, 181 pounds, is far from the most imposing figure that will stand in the discus ring. He's relied on technique to get him this far. He defeated Dankert and Randolph in the district meet en route to his first state meet.
“He's been working a solid year to get to where he's at,” Deye said. “When you stack him up with the other guys in the discus, he's small. But he's really quick and he's probably the fastest in the ring.”
Northview's record-holder in the discus at 154-1 is aiming for the stars.
“I refuse to believe that you have to be well above six feet tall to be a good thrower,” Nicholas said. “Of course, I have to work harder and throw more. The work I put in is in the circle, not in the weight room.
“I'm surprised and really glad I made it this far. I know it's going to be tough. I'm thinking if I can pull it together and get everything down, I've got a [throw of] 160 in me.''
Randolph is also gearing up for his first discus experience at the state meet. The 6-5, 185-pounder is also preparing to compete in the state high jump after finishing second at the regional by clearing 6-5.
Whitmer coach Greg Kubicki calls Randolph the best athlete he's ever coached.
“You don't see too many high jumpers throwing the discus 150 feet,” Kubicki said.
Randolph has more to deal with than just competitors in Dayton. He's also facing a scheduling problem as both events start at the same time. Furthermore, the discus will be taking place on a field outside Welcome Stadium.
Arrangements have been made so Randolph will be taken back and forth from each event by a golf cart. Kubicki said the unique situation shouldn't hurt Randolph.
“I'm not sure if there's ever been a high jumper qualify for discus at state,” Kubicki said. “But he's done this all year. The same thing happened at the district and regional. He's got to worry about himself and not all the other things. So far, he's done a good job with that.”