COLUMBUS - Meshawn Graham expects plenty of fireworks today during the Division I state track meet.
The Bowsher junior anticipates being right in the thick of all the excitement scheduled to take place at Ohio State University's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Graham, a 200-meter state champion two years ago as a freshman, displayed plenty of speed and plenty of poise during preliminary competition yesterday as she qualified to run in the finals of the 100, 200 and 400 meter finals.
The Division I meet starts at 1 o'clock.
Graham finished first in each of her heats, including a time of 11.91 for the 100, the best qualifying time recorded.
"It's going to be some great competition tomorrow," said Graham, who posted times of 24.25 in the 200 and 54.68 in the 400. "We'll have to see how it all plays out.
"Everyone laces up their shoes the same way."
Pulling off a triple victory will not be easy. Anthony Wayne's Erika Schmidt poses as a legitimate threat in the 100 and 200, while two-time defending state 400 champion Jessica Beard of Euclid is the favorite over one lap. Beard, who recently announced she will attend Texas A&M in the fall, set a state record of 53.29 in her preliminary heat.
The Division I competition was delayed a half-hour because of rain and lightning in the area. However, it didn't seem to have much of an effect on the meet.
Schmidt, who qualified for the finals in four events, turned in yesterday's fastest 200 heat of 23.89. The Generals sophomore ran fourth in her heat of the 100 (12.15).
"I am happy as long as I am racing in the finals," said Schmidt, who ran a leg on the Generals' qualifying 800 (1:41.49) and 1600 (3:55.87) relay teams.
"That's all that counts."
Two-time 100-meter state runner-up, Aeric Clay had a similar approach. The senior won his boys 100 heat in a swift 10.74 to hold off Middleton's Scott Johnson (10.78).
St. John's Jesuit's Jalil Carter ran fourth in the heat in 11.03 and was sixth in his 200 at (22.29). Anthony Wayne's James Cross finished sixth in his 200 heat (22.38).
Bowsher's Clay, who will attend Eastern Michigan University in the fall to play football, has his eye on a title.
"I'm ready to roll," said Clay, who had never won a preliminary heat here before. "I'm ready to go. This is the most I've ever been focused in all of my life."
St. John's DaJon Booth will run in the 110 hurdles finals after finishing third in his preliminary heat in 14.79.
Central Catholic's Samuel Hogue III continues to look as if he's been running the 300 hurdles for many more years than this season. He reached the finals by winning his heat and topping all qualifiers at 37.83.
"I just tried to go out and attack the first hurdle and run hard through the rest of the race," Hogue said.
The Central senior also stood out from the rest because of his haircut that featured a design of the state of Ohio and the word "Toledo" on the back of his head.
"I thought it would be a neat idea for state," he said.
Southview's Samuel Hixson just missed qualifying for the 300 finals after running fifth in his heat (39.34).
Among the Division I field events finals that took place earlier in the day, Whitmer's Derek Hopkins cleared 14-8 to earn a fourth-place tie in the pole vault finals with Hilliard Darby's Jacob Holton. Findlay's Richard Mills cleared 14-4 for ninth.
Whitmer's Jeremy Jones earned an eighth-place finish in the long jump with his best effort of the day measuring 22 feet.
St. John's Chris Lemon, Matt Lemon, Benjamin Schoonmaker and Joe Miller finished 12th in the 3200 relay (8:00.63). Cleveland Heights won the race by recording a state record time of 7:41.17.
Central's Dane Sanzenbacher raced to a time of 48.30 in a 400 preliminary to earn a spot in today's finals. Clay's Nick Tammerine finished fifth in his race in 49.96.
Sanzenbacher, Hogue, Cedric Bouyer and Michael Krieg will compete in the 1600 relay final after placing fourth in their heat in 3:20.
In other girls competition, Perrysburg hurdler Courtney Weiss, at here first state meet, qualified for the final in the 400 by finishing fourth in her heat in 44.92.
"I really just wanted to run a good race today," Weiss said. "As long as I ran a good race it really didn't matter where I finished."
Central's Sharise Calhoun qualified for two finals after running fourth in the 100 hurdles (15.02) and anchoring the Irish's 1600 relay team that posted a fourth-place heat effort (3:55.26). But she ran seventh in her 300 hurdles heat (46.53) and Whitmer's Courtney Siebenaller finished sixth in her heat (44.94).
"I qualified for the finals in the 100-meter hurdles, so I'm happy about that," Calhoun said.
Anthony Wayne's Ashley Zaper finished eighth in the high jump after clearing 5-4.
Bowling Green's Christy Titus, Barbara Powers, Alyssa Glenn and Andrea Renny ran 10th in the 3200 relay in 9:36.62, and Central's Kaitlyn Krizman, Emma Kertesz, Kristyn Tusin and Anne McCarthy were 14th in 9:45.15.
Bowsher's Nicole Grzybowski (113-5) and Ashley Harris (111-8) finished 13th and 14th, respectively, in the discus.
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