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Published: Sunday, 6/6/2010

St. John's Riffle captures Division I discus crown

BLADE STAFF

COLUMBUS - Although Cody Riffle is regarded as one of the nation's top throwers, the St. John's senior entered his final high school event having never even been the best in his state.

"That's kind of ridiculous to think about," Riffle said.

There is no reason to think about it any longer. After finishing second in the shot put earlier yesterday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, Riffle, with one more crack at a state championship, prevailed in discus with a top throw of 189 feet, three inches.

Ranked third nationally in discus and fourth in shot, Riffle, a University of Michigan recruit, said his career would have "definitely" been incomplete without conquering Ohio.

His shot put throw of 68-7.75 was his personal best but was not good enough to top Canfield's two-time champion Dustin Brode who set a new Division I record at 71-7.5.

Riffle's best discus attempt at last year's meet, when he finished runner-up, traveled about two inches farther than yesterday's winning mark. Distance, though, was not the goal.

"Kind of an average throw but it did the job," Riffle said. "I'm just happy I finally got a gold medal at state."

Warren G. Harding won the D-I boys meet, topping Trotwood-Madison, 47-44. With 56 points, Reynoldsburg won the girls crown, and Rocky River Magnificat followed with 35.

Northview senior Meredith Wagner entered her final competition attempting to add a 3200 title to the cross country championship she won in the fall. Leading most of the race, Wagner fell behind on the final lap and finished second to Cincinnati Glen Este's Michelle Thomas, whose time of 10:46.59 bested Wagner by about four seconds.

"I was hoping for first but I can only do so much," Wagner said. "That was the outcome, and second is not bad at all."

Thomas and Wagner were running nearly stride-for-stride to begin the final lap, and although Thomas pulled ahead soon thereafter, it wasn't until about 200 meters remaining when Wagner realized a comeback was out of the question.

"I kept giving it my all, and I was like, no, come back here," Wagner said.

Central Catholic senior Gerren Duhart finished sixth in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, and he admittedly wasn't happy about it. In the shorter race, Duhart stumbled on two hurdles, which he said has been a recurring problem. He also had trouble with a hurdle in the 300, which is generally a clean race for him.

"The fact that I did stumble in both races kind of makes me feel I would've had better places, if not won both races," Duhart said.

Perrysburg's Cameron Gardner took fourth in the 100, and judging by her immediate reaction of joyfully hugging her coach, it was clear she was thrilled with the placement. Gardner, who will compete at Cincinnati next year, posted a time of 12.22, which was one one-hundredth of a second behind the third-place finisher.

"My goal was to just run well and get in the top four," Gardner said. "Despite the slippery track [caused by intermittent rain] I think everything went well."

Entering his final career pole vault competition, Springfield's James Howe had hoped to jump 15 feet and finish fifth - and that's precisely what he did. Howe consistently topped his previous career high of 14-3, first jumping 14-4, then 14-8, and finally 15-0.

Howe said his day was especially gratifying because he's been battling an injured back that required a month of physical therapy.

"This year has been tough, so it's nice to come through with something like this," he said.

In the meet's final event, Notre Dame's 1600 relay couldn't maintain a lead going into the final lap and finished fourth.

Also earning D-I state placement were: Fremont Ross' Justin Hines (fourth, 110 hurdles) and its boys 800 relay (eighth); Whitmer's Craig Nowak (high jump, eighth); Northview's Alison Work (eighth, 800); Bowsher's Jade Brown (fourth, 200) and Anthony Wayne's Brittany Green (sixth, long jump).

-Ryan Autullo



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