Mike Casapini has worked with the area’s top throwers for more than 30 years.
This season, nine of his students — including five from Muskingum County schools — will take part in the Division I, II and III state meets today and Saturday at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
Tri-Valley junior Collin Prouty and sophomore Kaylee Antill will compete in the Division I discus, Philo senior Elijah Talk will throw the shot put and Maysville senior Alex Presley the discus in Division II, and Rosecrans senior David Cline is taking part in the Division III shot put.
Tri-Valley junior Jade Hawkins also will take part in the Division I pole vault.
All five throwers have worked with Casapini throughout their careers, and most take part in his weekly throwing sessions on Sundays at Zanesville High School.
Antill is the only thrower returning to the state after earning All-Ohio honors in the discus in 2012 with an eighth-place finish. That experience showed she has the ability to compete in the top division.
“It prepares me for the competition I will see,” Antill said. “I have the confidence of being there before, and I want to throw to the best of my ability.”
Working with Casapini and her Tri-Valley coaches have prepared Antill for this moment.
“We’ve found small things that can make a big difference,” she said. “I’m blessed to have great coaches and all this support of my family and friends.”
Prouty ended 2012 with disappointment after failing to advance to the state in the shot put or the discus. He began this year with a renewed focus to reach that level.
“One of my main goals entering the season was making it to state, and it feels good to be there,” he said. “I’m hoping to get on the podium. In practice, I keep checking on my technique. I keep pushing myself and I have a good throw in me.”
Talk, who was a Division II district champion, is considered one of the frontrunners to make All-Ohio. However, it is not about what he has thrown now, it is about what he could do.
“I know I haven’t thrown my best yet so there is a lot of room for improvement,” Talk said. “If I throw like I know I can, I can climb up the standings and reach the podium.”
Facing competitors such as Talk has prepared Presley for this moment. He is coming off third-place finishes at the regional and the district meets and his self-confidence has been boosted.
“My first two years I tried to develop into a runner. But as a junior I focused on throwing,” he said. “I made a big leap this season. The MVL is harder than the districts and regionals, and I know I can compete with anyone.”
Cline is one of many participants in Division III from Rosecrans. Despite being a rookie in Columbus, he is not a novice when it comes to the meet itself.
“I actually went (to the state meet) last year to watch the girls because Coach (Mike) Bullock recommended me to go up and get a feel for things,” he said. “I know what to expect now and I don’t have to worry as much about the environment.”
The senior wants to make his final high school sporting event memorable.
“It is an honor to throw against the best in Ohio,” Cline said. “I’m anxious to throw, and my goal is to make it on the podium.”
Hawkins just started pole vaulting in June 2012. She is ready for what is expected to be an amazing experience.
“I’m new to everything,” she said. “There are a lot of people and it is extremely loud so you need to be focused on your event. I’m just ready to compete.”