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Published: Sunday, 6/6/2004

McCann boosts Tinora

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

COLUMBUS - The main goal of Tinora s Kevin McCann going into his final track and field meet was to “just have fun,” and he had plenty in yesterday s Division III state championships at Ohio State University s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

McCann, also a first-team All-Ohio football running back who will play linebacker in that sport at the University of Findlay, placed among the top five in four individual events and came within two points of winning the state team title by himself.

At 6-1 and 205-pounds, McCann is fairly bulky for a sprinter/long jumper. But he added a D-III long jump title (21-11) to his crown in that event in the D-II state meet in Dayton last year, and placed second in the 400 (49.46), third in the 200 (22.59) and fifth in the 100 (11.25), just missing track s version of hitting for the cycle (1, 2, 3, 4).

“I had personal goals I wanted to achieve,” McCann said, “but I ve been talking with my coaches all week and decided to just have fun.

“In the long jump, they say it only takes one jump and that was the case today. I was a little disappointed because I wanted to hit 23 [feet], but I guess you can t be too disappointed with a state championship.”

McCann said he was tired after placing second in the 400 with the 200 still to run, but got some incentive.

“I m warming up and I heard [over public address] that we were tied for first [team standings] at that point. That gave me a little boost of energy.”

The senior s 28 points placed Tinora second behind D-III team champion Dayton Jefferson Township, which had 30 points. Defending boys team champion Columbus Grove was fourth this year at 24 and Stryker, paced by Ohio State-bound senior distance star Braden Martinez was seventh at 20.

Martinez first challenged the small-school 1600-meter record by placing first in 4:17.43 (record is 4:14.20), then completed a two-year quest by breaking the state 3200 mark with a 9:17.84 in defending his 2003 two-mile title. Jake Haughn of Mount Gilead had set the record (9:20.92) in beating Martinez in the 2002 state 3200 race.

“This is what I ve been looking forward to since my sophomore year when Jake Haughn beat me,” Martinez said of his record. “I knew it was going to happen someday. Today is that day.

“I felt strong. I wanted to get out and set a real hard, strong pace, and I did that. I thank the Lord for giving me such a great day to run. It really cooled down here for the last few races.”

On the girls side in Division III, Toledo Christian sophomore Bethany McGraw and Woodmore freshman Emily Pendleton brought home individual field-event titles.

McGraw, who missed qualifying for the state 100-meter event by a hundredth of a second at regionals, narrowly missed yesterday s 200 final after placing fifth in preliminaries here on Friday.

That left the long jump and, on her third and final attempt, McGraw hit the takeoff board almost perfectly and nailed a personal-record leap of 18-51/2 to win her first state title.

“I was a nervous wreck all day,” McGraw said of the competition. “My finger nails are gone. I just prayed hard.

“Hitting the board [deep] is the big thing. You need that to get your grip, and that s where all of your height and momentum come from. I hit the board about an inch from the end. You can t get much closer than that. I was about two inches from the state record [18-73/]], and I kind of wanted to get that this year. But that leaves something to improve on.”

Pendleton - who has been training and competing since seventh grade in the discus under her father, former Fremont Ross discus man Mike Pendleton - did not match her impressive 152-1 from the regionals. But her 141-9 yesterday was easily good enough for first ahead of runner-up Jessie Tanner of Newark Catholic (134-6).

Pendleton felt she dealt well with the pressure of her first state meet.

“I just tried to zone everyone out and just concentrate on what I had to do, which was really big,” Pendleton said. “I knew I had a shot at it.”

A lack of physical size mattered little to the Wildcat freshman.

“She s not really big [for a discus thrower] and I wasn t either,” Mike Pendleton said. “So, I ve tried to stress technique and form, and she s a real good listener.”

Other girls champions from northwest Ohio were Ottoville senior Brittany Klima, who broke her own state pole vault record (10-10 last year) by clearing 11-6 yesterday, and the 800-meter relay team from Carey.

Minster took the girls team title with 47 points, 11 better than runner-up Gates Mills Hawken. The top northwest Ohio team was Ottoville, which was seventh at 20 points.

Maumee Valley tied for 12th in the boys meet with 17 points, and senior Jamie Afridi played a part in every point.

Afridi, who anchored the Hawks eighth-place 3200-relay team Friday, yesterday placed second in the 1600 (4:21.23), took fifth in the 800 (1:57.59), and anchored Maumee Valley s fifth-place 1600-relay finish.

“Division III always has great kickers and a lot of races come down to the kick,” Afridi said of his 1600 race with Martinez. “It s whoever wants it more, I guess.

Other D-III athletes who placed in the top four individually: (Boys) Brandon Kistler, Old Fort, third in 100 and fourth in 200; Jason Bumb, New Riegel, second in 3200; Jason Ordway, Holgate, third in 3200; Danny Woods, Columbus Grove, fourth in 110 hurdles; Blaine Maag, Columbus Grove, second in discus; Dan Beach, Arlington, third in discus; Eli Nichols, Seneca East, third in pole valut; Brett Heitmeyer, Ottoville, third in long jump.

(Girls) Kesha Brooks, Liberty-Benton, fourth in 800; Jessica Ordway, Holgate, third in 1600; Carime Reinhart, Hopewell-Loudon, second in 3200 and fourth in 1600; Audra Brown, Ayersville, fourth in 3200; Brittany Wells, McComb, fourth in 100 hurdles; Ashley Crigger, Liberty Center, fourth in discus.



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