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Published: Saturday, 6/12/2010

Student-athletes enjoy success in track and field

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The recent high school track and field season was fruitful for northwest Ohio student-athletes, particularly for a stellar crop of seniors.

Twelve area seniors have or plan to sign national letters of intent to Division I college programs, and another, Ottawa Hills' 10-time state place winner Katherine Jamieson, will play field hockey at Michigan State. Throughout their careers, the 13 student-athletes combined for 11 state titles, and in an incredible display of athleticism, they achieved 52 top-eight finishes in 67 opportunities at the state meet.

Jamieson garnered the most state appearances (12) and top-eight finishes (10) of the group, while Eastwood's Justin Welch won the most state titles (four). Nine of them will remain in Ohio for college and two others will head north to Michigan. Liberty-Benton's Seth Butler (Colorado State) will travel the farthest, followed by Welch, who will attend Georgia.

Following is a snapshot for each of the 13 athletes.

Division I

Cameron Gardner,

Perrysburg

College: Cincinnati

State event appearances: Six

Top-eight state finishes: Two. Jr.-Sixth (200). Sr.-Fourth (100).

Personal bests: 100-11.88; 200-24.71

Memory: Having previously only been to state individually, Gardner came from behind in two relays at this year's regionals to secure the fourth and final qualifying spots.

Cody Riffle

St. John's Jesuit

College: Michigan

State event appearances: Five

Top-eight state finishes: Five. Soph-Eighth (discus); Jr.-Runner-up (discus) and third (shot put); Sr.-Champion (discus) and runner-up (shot put).

Personal bests: Discus-203-05; Shot put-68-7.75.

Memory: Riffle avoided being labeled as one of Ohio's top throwers to have never won a state title when captured the discus crown in his final high school event. Riffle is ranked highly in the nation - third in discus, fourth in shot.

Meredith Wagner,

Northview

College: Ohio State

State event appearances: Two

Top-eight state finishes: Two. Jr.-Sixth (3200); Sr. Runner-up (3200)

Personal bests: 3200-

10:46; 1600-5:11.

Memory: The D-I state cross country champion this past fall, Wagner fell just shy of duplicating the feat in the spring, finishing second in the 3200. She'll compete in both sports at OSU.

Justin Hines,

Fremont Ross

College: Ohio State

State event appearances: Three

Top-eight state finishes: Two. Sr.-Fourth (110 hurdles) and eighth (800 relay)

Personal bests: 110-14.07.

Memory: At regionals, Hines missed out on qualifying for four events when he finished two hundredths of a second shy of fourth place in the 300. Instead he advanced in three events, placing in two.

Josh Ballenger,

Fremont Ross

College: Cincinnati

State event appearances: One

Personal best: Discus-164-0.

Memory: Ballenger finished tenth at this year's state meet, two spots away from earning placement.

Darien Spann,

Fremont Ross

College: Akron

State event appearances: Two

Top-eight state finishes: Sr.-Eighth (800 relay)

Personal best: Long jump-22-2.25.

Memory: Spann was part of two state-qualifying relays as a senior.

Division II

Justin Welch

Eastwood

College: Georgia

State event appearances: Six

Top-eight state finishes: Five. Soph-Champion (discus); Jr.-Champion (discus) and third (shot put); Sr.-Champion (discus and shot put)

Personal bests: Discus-202-0; Shot put-63-4.25

Memory: In the final attempt of this year's D-II shot put competition, Welch uncorked a throw of 62-11.75 to deny Sandusky Perkins' Matthew Hoty of his third straight championship. Welch, captured discus titles in his final three years and was at the forefront of the Eagles' team state championships the last two years.

Kendall Homan

Napoleon

College: Youngstown State

State event appearances: Seven

Top-eight state finishes: Seven. Frosh-Seventh (long jump); Soph-Fourth (long jump) and fifth (100 hurdles); Jr.-Runner-up (long jump) and fourth (100 hurdles); Sr.-Runner-up (long jump) and fourth (100 hurdles).

Personal bests: Long jump-18-1; 100 hurdles-14.79

Memory: Homan likely would have won the long jump title this year had Cleveland Collinwood not moved down from D-I. Collinwood's Erin Busbee won the event with a jump of 19-3.75, topping Homan's effort of 18-0.25.

Rachel Huddle, Napoleon

College: Youngstown State

State event appearances: One

Personal bests: 3200-

11:50.31

Memory: Known more for her cross country prowess - four time state qualifier, twice finishing in the top 12 - Huddle was plagued with injuries this spring and did not advance to state. She and Homan will continue an established pipeline from Napoleon to Youngstown State.

Cody Seifert

Eastwood

College: Kent State

State event appearances: Seven

Top-eight state finishes: Six. Frosh-Eighth (800 relay); Soph-Runner-up (800 relay), third (200), fourth (100); Sr. Runner-up (100) and third (200).

Personal bests: 100-10.6; 200-21.76

Memory: Seifert's fear that a tenuous hamstring would wipe out his season for the second straight was never realized. He collected 14 team points at this year's state meet to help the Eagles to a second consecutive championship.

Division III

Katie Reiser

Elmwood

College: Kent State

State event appearances: Six

Top-eight state finishes: Six. Soph-Fifth (100) and sixth (200); Jr.-Runner-up (100 and 200); Sr.-Champion (100 and 200)

Personal bests: 100-12.02; 200-24.76

Memory: At this month's state meet, Reiser won the 100-meter dash and then endured a 30-minute rain delay before returning to the track to capture the 200 crown. Her friendly rivalry with Ottawa Hills' Jamieson spanned four years.

Katherine Jamieson,

Ottawa Hills

College: Michigan State (field hockey)

State event appearances: 12

Top-eight state finishes: 10. Frosh-Fifth (200); Soph-Fourth (400) and eighth (100 and 200); Jr.-Champion (300 hurdles), fourth (100 and 200); Sr.-Runner-up (110 and 300 hurdles) and fourth (200).

Personal bests: 100 hurdles-14.68; 300 hurdles-43.18; 200-25.12

Memory: Arguably the most decorated area track athlete over the past four years, Jamieson set a D-III state record time in winning the 300 hurdles as a junior. The mark would fall a year later. A three-sport standout, Jamieson will play field hockey at Michigan State but has not ruled out also running track for the Spartans.

Seth Butler,

Liberty-Benton

College: Colorado State

State event appearances: Nine

Top-eight state finishes: Six. Frosh-Fifth (800); Soph-Champion (800) and sixth (1600 relay); Jr.-Champion (800) and sixth (3200 relay); Sr.-Champion (800)

Personal bests: 800-1:52.4; 1600-4:21

Memory: An exhausted Butler had to be assisted off the track after winning this year's D-III 800 title. That was the only real drama to him winning his third straight championship.

Contract Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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