Sunday, Jul 24, 2016
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Local athletes eye state track titles

COLUMBUS - It's not as though winning the Division I state cross country title in November wasn't fulfilling for Northview's Meredith Wagner. It's just that, if she could win a state track and field championship this weekend, it might be more significant.

"Cross country is very competitive, but I feel like in track, there are a lot of people at the same level," Wagner said. "I think it's a little more competitive in track than it is in cross country."

Wagner will enter Saturday's Division I 3200-meter race with the second-fastest incoming time and appears to be the main challenger to North Royalton's Hannah Neczypor, who defeated Wagner by about four seconds at last week's regional.

Competition at Jesse Owens Stadium begins at 9 Friday morning with the Division II field events. Northview's 3200 relay, of which Wagner is a member, will compete in the early evening.

"For the 3200, I'm just ready," said Wagner, who has signed with Ohio State for both track and cross country.

"It's my last race of my senior year, and I'm ready to run well."

Also competing in her final high school competition is Ottawa Hills' Katherine Jamieson, the defending Division III state champion and state record holder in the 300 hurdles. She'll be as busy as anyone at the meet, competing in four events - both hurdle races, the 800 relay, and the 200 - which is the maximum number permitted. Jamieson, who has earned state placement in at least one event in each of the past three years, will get started with preliminary action at 9:30 this morning. Her time of 43.18 in last year's 300 final set a new

D-III state record. She barely missed that mark at last week's regional, crossing the finish line in 43.60.

"I would love to try to break it again, but that all depends on weather and other stuff," she said.

"I'm really just trying to go and defend my title, and if I happen to break the record that would be a cherry on top."

An improbable friendship among D-II throwers will continue this weekend. Eastwood's Justin Welch, Wauseon's Todd Christy, and Sandusky Perkins' Matthew Hoty battled with each other at districts and regionals, and they'll now do the same at state. It has been a fun couple of weeks, says Christy, who finished second in shot put and fourth in discus last week at Lexington.

"Welch and Hoty are always cheering me on. It's just a lot of fun," Christy said. "I like throwing with them."

Will the vast importance of this weekend's meet change the camaraderie between the three?

"I don't think it will change," Christy said. "We'll still be cheering for each other, I'm sure about that. They're all great guys. It'll be a lot of fun."

Welch is the defending discus state champion, Hoty the defending shot put champion.

In D-I, Cody Riffle of St. John's is expected to contend for a state title in both throwing events. His 68 foot, 7-inch mark in the shot put is higher than anyone else's, and his seed of 193-07 in the discus is second to Centerville's Michael Bennett (196-03).

Perrysburg senior Cameron Gardner will be competing in three events, the 400 and 800 relays and the individual 100. She's mostly intrigued by the relays, in which she'll be joined by teammates Andrea Wismer, Alyssa Goins, and Kirsten Goins.

"It hasn't hit me yet that we're actually going to states together," said Gardner, who will compete at the University of Cincinnati. "I'm so used to going by myself. It's going to be so weird having my team down there with me."

Also in D-I, Notre Dame's 800 and 1600 relays are expected to compete for top honors. Comprised of the same four girls - junior Kaila Gardner, sophomores Lexis Williams and Jessika Matthews, and freshman Destinee Battle - both of the Eagle relays enter the meet with the second fastest time, trailing the same four girls from Cincinnati Walnuts Hills.

Gardner will also compete in the 200.

In D-III, Archbold's regional winning relays are ranked second in the 800 and third in the 1600. Nate Hammersmith, who also qualified individually in the 200, envisions considerable in the relay events.

"I don't want to sound arrogant about it, but I have very high expectations about how our team will handle themselves down there," he said. "I think if we run the way we're capable of and trust our conditioning, we're going to place very high on the podium."

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.

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