TIFFIN – Old Fort’s Adam Alexander was already experiencing the requisite nervousness, excitement and angst Wednesday that go with competing in the pole vault at the Division III regional level.
Then, the sophomore found himself in a six-way jump off for the final spot advancing to state.
“The vault-off started at 12-10,” said Alexander, who cleared 12-6 for the logjam. “I felt like I was all the way over but I hit (the bar) with my chest. (A competitor) missed and we went back and forth. Finally, he missed and I didn’t and it was a relief.”
Consistency was a key for Alexander.
“Coming in, I knew there was a big group around 13 (feet),” he said. “I knew I needed to jump every height without a miss or I wouldn’t make it (out). I didn’t miss until 12-10. I had so much support from my friends and family yelling — it was great.”
Alexander works with Liberty-Benton throws coach Tim DeCooman. DeCooman actually trains several of Wednesday’s vaulters.
Stockaders coach Tony Miller is a former vaulter and Alexander’s biggest impetus for participation in the sport is brother Nathan. Nathan was second at state in the vault last season.
Adam appreciates that despite Nathan’s status among the state’s elite, Nathan always had time for his little brother.
“I always looked up to him,” Alexander said. “He was an amazaing vaulter but he helped everybody as much as he could. He never left me dry and I want to be like him.”
Alexander continued to wear a huge smile long after his event was complete Wednesday.
“I feel blessed to make it out,” he said. “This was the most intense, fun meet I’ve ever been to. It’s a moment I won’t forget.”
Margaretta’s Trent Balduff was third in the pole vault to move on to state while Austin Moore was third in the long jump finals to advance.
Katie Blohm was first in the 100 hurdle prelims at 15.59. She was also seventh in 300 hurdles prelims to advance to Friday.
Blohm couldn’t believe her eyes Tuesday as the numbers she was looking for felt like a punch to the stomach when she found them.
“I looked on MileSplit and I moved down in ranking from last year,” she said. “I was disappointed and I wanted to reclaim my place among the good hurdlers here. I want to make it to state and celebrate with them.”
Blohm was ranked second in both hurdle events last season but was fourth in the 100 and ninth in the 300 prior to Wednesday. Blohm advanced to state in both hurdles last season.
Blohm satisfied her objective to make some noise Wednesday and continues to fine-tune technique.
“It’s exciting and nerve-racking,” she said of Friday’s seed. “The coaches have been helping me work on my finishing touches … my lazy trail leg and snapping down my lead leg.”
Margaretta’s Beau Beechler was fourth in the 110 hurdle prelims to advance to Friday. Derrick Abbott, Andy Riesterer, Stephen Freeh and Moore finished fifth in prelims for the 4X100 relay.
Gibsonburg twins Colleen and Kendall Reynolds advanced to the finals in the 100, 200 and 400. Colleen was first in the 400 prelims.
Lakota’s Cariss Reese was third in 300 hurdle prelims to advance.
Joey Fisher was second in 300 hurdle prelims to move on to Friday. SJCC’s Alex Veleba, Matt Fox, Fisher and Mitchell Gonya advanced finishing sixth in the 4X200 relay.
“I’m anxious and kind of nervous,” Fisher said. “I’m hoping for the best. The 300 is my favorite event. The last couple weeks the coaches have been working with me on my trail leg. For districts and (Wednesday) my form has been very clean. I just want to make it to state (for the first time). I don’t care what event.”
The warmer the weather, the better Woodmore senior Andrew Shrewsbury feels. The conditions were hot and humid Wednesday as Shrewsbury finished second in prelims for the 100 and 200 to advance to Friday.
Shrewsbury, one of the top Division III sprinters in the state entering the campaign, has battled a lingering knee injury this season.
“A lot better compared to a few weeks ago,” Shrewsbury said of his knee. “My knee is loosening up. I’m doing some stretches. We’re still not sure what it is. I take it one race at a time. With my health, I’m pretty much day-to-day.
“I’m not going to let my knee bother me. It’s mental. If I feel good mentally, I’ll feel good physically.”
Shrewsbury did not compete in his individual events at Northern Buckeye Conference Championships but did run on his relays. His intention was to help the team as much as possible.
“Track is an individual sport but the team is what brings us together,” he said.
Shrewsbury hopes to benefit from his experience reaching Columbus in the past.
“Now that I’m back to running I can do well at state and hopefully get on the podium in the top three,” he said. “I’ve been there so I know ho to run and what to expect.”
Michael Travis, Malachi Brown, freshman Zach Sandwisch and Shrewsbury were fourth in 4X200 relay prelims to advance.
“We want to get to state,” Sandwisch said. “We have two seniors, one junior and a freshman. We want to go to state for the seniors and place in the top five.”
Sandwisch was fifth in 400 prelims to advance.
“I’m happy to make (finals) as a freshman,” he said. “Deric (Anthony) pushed me throughout the year. He switched to middle distance to make us better. I’ll push harder (Friday). Lane 2 is a rough lane but I’ve got some more in me and I’ll push it out.”
Travis, Brown, Anthony and Ryan Sandwisch were eighth in 4X400 relay prelims as the Wildcats used a sub for Zach Sandwisch. Travis missed advancing by one spot finishing ninth in 110 hurdle prelims.
Megan Pendleton (37 feet, 1.75 inches) and Mikayla Baer (33-6) each established a personal best to finish fifth and 12th, respectively, in the shot put finals. Pendleton had the best series of throws in her career in the event.
AMHERST – For the third year in a row, Fremont Ross’ Jared Ballenger qualified to the state meet.
Ballenger had a throw of 164 feet, five inches in the discus.
The girls 4 x 100 relay team of Ariana Spencer, Mariah Mathews, Cassie Woleslagel and Elayna Ackerman qualified to Friday’s finals. Ackerman also qualified as an individual in the 100 meter hurdles, but finished 14th in the 300 hurdles. Woleslagel finished 10th in that event.
Shanquise Mills finished fifth in the long jump at 22-1. The top-seeded 4 x 200 relay team of Jacob Luc, Dylan Starks, Drew Starks and De Churchya finished 15th after Luc pulled a hamstring in the first leg of the race.
Jessica Schell will throw the discus and Spencer will long jump Friday.