If there's a time to shine in track and field, the time is now.
A year ago, Toledo Christian's Bethany McGraw, Woodmore's Emily Pendleton and Ottoville's Stacey Wannemacher responded well to the call of competition at the state track and field meet. McGraw won the Division III long jump, Pendleton was the state discus champion and Wannemacher won state in the shot put.
Libbey's Danyelle McGary and Rogers' Darryl Elston didn't quite reach the level of celebrating victory at state last spring. McGary was the Division I girls state runner-up in the 400 meters while Elston placed third in the D-I boys 300 hurdles.
Nevertheless, McGary and Elston and dozens of athletes representing northwest Ohio at the state track and field meet today and tomorrow in Columbus will have an opportunity to experience what McGraw, Pendleton and Wannemacher experienced last spring.
"I'm going to go out and try to do my best and go for the gold," said Elston, a senior.
Elston returns to state as a favorite in the 300 hurdles and is also a state qualifier in the 110 hurdles.
"I'm going to try and place high in the 110s and I knew I'd come back this year and try and win the 300s. That was my goal," Elston said.
McGary, a junior, qualified for state this season in the 100, 200 and 400.
Meanwhile, Bowsher freshman Meshawn Graham solidified her first trip to run at state, which takes place at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, by sweeping the 200 and 400 and anchoring the Rebels' winning 1600-meter relay team at the Division I regional meet Saturday.
"I'm excited and I can't wait," Graham said.
St. John's Jesuit's Marcus Waugh looks to improve upon a ninth-place finish at state in the shot put a year ago. He enters the state meet coming off a second-place showing in regional action with a throw of 56 feet, 9 inches. Waugh, who had shoulder surgery in December, believes he's ready to give it his best shot at trying to win a state title.
"I'm starting to get the strength back in my shoulder and I'm starting to get my throwing technique back," said Waugh, who will play football at the University of Cincinnati in the fall. "Last year I was kind of psyched out seeing those guys two times my size throwing right there with me."
Whitmer distance runner Skyler Schmitt, a junior, returns to state competing in the 3200 while sophomore sprinter Aeric Clay also sees the state meet as an opportunity to make his mark.
"This year my goal is to get a medal," Schmitt said.
Maumee senior Michelle Sutherland, who finished as a state runner-up in the high jump a year ago, is making her fourth trip to the state meet.
Whitmer's freshman hurdler Courtney Siebenaller, who advanced in the 100 and 300 hurdles, said her aim is to make the most of the opportunity competing as one of the best in the state.
"I'm kind of nervous going to state," she said. "I'm hoping to at least get to the finals."
Central Catholic freshman Sharise Calhoun qualified for the state meet after placing first at the regional in the 300 hurdles.
"It's sunk in a little," said Calhoun, of advancing to state as a ninth-grader. "I'm going to go in and be humble and just try to run my race.
"I know I'm going to go there and enjoy myself."
In Division II, Eastwood senior James O'Brien looks to make some noise in the 800 meters this year after finishing in the top 10 at state in the 1600 last spring.
Kari Kreutzfeld, a state finalist in the 200 meters last season, Shari Kreutzfeld and Kelly Logsdon lead the way for a pair of Port Clinton relay teams running at state. The Kreutzfelds and Logsdon will each run legs in the 400 and 800 relay while Ashley Taylor runs with the trio in the 400 and Tonya Tigner runs a leg in the 800.
Wauseon's Drew Weber and Port Clinton's Evan Whiting are considered favorites in the shot put after finishing third and fourth, respectively, at state a year ago as juniors. Whiting is also expected to contend in the discus.
Swanton's Abby LaVigne returns to the state meet in the long jump after placing ninth last year.
Rossford freshman Rachel Clay also earned a trip to Columbus after running well all season in the 400. Cardinal Stritch's Nicole Bergman figures to compete in the discus and shot.
In Division III, Columbus Grove's Blaine Maag also returns to the state meet in the shot and discus. He was a finalish in both last season.
Liberty Center sprinter Curt Silveus and Maumee Valley Country Day hurdler Chris Sackmann each qualified for state in two events. Silveus is running in the 100 and 200 while Sackmann goes in both hurdles.
Holgate's Jason Ordway returns in the 3200. He ran third in the event last year.
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