With the OHSAA Track and Field Championships approaching almost as fast as some of the local sprinters streaking for the finish line, it’s time for the cream of the crop to make yet another stride toward the top.
It’s regional week and, with plenty of county athletes poised to perform, it could be an exciting one with more than a few standouts primed to punch a ticket to next week’s state showcase.
Headliners start with the Uhle brothers, who are set to compete in their trademark event, the pole vault, today at Pickerington North’s Division I regional. Chris, of course, is looking to get back to the state meet to defend the title he earned after clearing 16-9 at last year’s championship. Joey, though, is looking to bump his brother down a notch and taste the title himself. Joey, who nabbed runner-up honors at last year’s state meet after clearing 16-0, won last week’s district battle by breaking the OHSAA all-time record (set by Chris at the aforementioned state meet) thanks to an effort of 17-0.
All that being said, the two shouldn’t have much trouble getting out of the regional and qualifying for the state competition. The real question, though, is just how high will they get?
Olentangy’s Josh Perry, who enters the Pickerington regional as the top seed in the long jump (22-5 Â¾), also has a solid shot at advancing. The junior finished second in the state a year ago with a leap of 22-10. Big Walnut’s Tyler Fifer will be competing in the event, too, entering with a seed mark of 21-9.
Other boys set to compete in Pickerington include Big Walnut’s Luke Atkeson (110 and 300 hurdles), Nolan Leber (800), Jacob Walaszek (discus and shot put), Fifer (high jump) and its 4x200 relay team (Kenny Brown, Grant Corven, Drew Harmon and Gabe Kitchen); Liberty’s James Pappas (1,600), Andrew Johnston (3,200), Grant Cartwright (discus and shot put) and Chris Uhle (800); Olentangy’s Colin McShane (400), Perry (110 hurdles and long jump), Claude Mbemba (discus), Bryan Young (shot put) and its 4x100 unit (McShane, Buchi Okafor, Anthony Outley and Perry); Hayes’ Matt Swisher (pole vault) and Orange’s Zachary Warner (high jump) and its 4x100 crew (Orisha Nnani, Trey Pride, Larry Rode and Ross Watkins).
Big Walnut’s relay teams headline a talented group of girls set to compete in D-I regional action. The Golden Eagles’ 4x800 (Bethany Bogantz, Brittney Bogantz, Lincoln Green and Catie Craig-Bowden), 4x200 (Jamie Annis, Callie Carioti, Brea Medlock and Olivia Small), 4x100 (Carioti, Julia Evans, Small and Leah Thomas) and 4x400 (Annis, Liz Carty, Medlock and Small) relay foursomes will each be hitting the track with an eye on advancement.
Others include Orange’s Katelyn Daniels (discus, shot put and high jump), Megan Reiter (high jump), Mary McLain (long jump) and its 4x800 quartet (Jillian Barnett, Morgan Browning, Brooke Pulkrabek and Alana Stillion); Olentangy’s Brittney Simmons (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and high jump), Adaora Anunike (discus and shot put), Gabi Smith (pole vault), Whitney Bice (pole vault) and the 4x200 relay team (Ganiru Anunike, Marinice Bauman, Alexandra Hubbard and Courtney Simmons); Big Walnut’s Thomas (100), Bethany Bogantz (800), Small (long jump) and Medlock (400); Liberty’s Halee Wex (discus and shot put), Jordan Waterhouse (shot put) and Melinda Hersey (pole vault); and Hayes’ Lavonia Johnson (discus).
Buckeye Valley, competing in Dayton’s Division II regional set to get underway Thursday afternoon, will be represented by Austin Hilt (300 hurdles and pole vault) on the boys’ side and Kayla Heineike (pole vault) on the girls’ side.