By ANDREW WILLIAMS
COLUMBUS — Three was a popular number at the Division III state track and field championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Friday as a trio of area athletes closed out their 2014 seasons by earning third-place finishes in their respective events.
Patrick Henry’s Marcus Myers (discus), Liberty-Benton’s Zach Garver (high jump) and Bluffton’s Clay Wilson (pole vault) each placed third on a day when all Division III field events and running semifinals were contested.
Running event finals in Division III will begin at 9:30 a.m. today. The meet will conclude with the Division I boys 1,600 relay at 7 p.m.
Myers, who finished 15th at the state meet a year ago, was on a personal mission for much of the season. Unsatisfied with his previous performance on the state’s biggest stage, he made it a goal to get back to Columbus and improve his finish. It’s safe to say he accomplished that.
“It’s definitely a relief,” Myers said. “I definitely wanted to redeem myself from last year. I didn’t throw the way I wanted to today, but I improved from last year. I improved by over 30 feet from last year and it’s all about improvement from last year.”
Myers’ best throw of the day was 162-10, which measured a little more than seven feet shorter than his regional-winning toss of 170. But as Myers pointed out, it was unquestionably better than his mark of 132-3 from a year ago.
“It’s definitely satisfying, especially to get on that podium finally,” he said. “Being senior year and I’m moving on, I just wanted to finally get that goal and finally get up there and experience what it’s like to be top eight in the state.”
Garver only completed his second year as a track and field athlete at Liberty-Benton. Having not picked up the sport until his junior year, he said he never expected to make it to the state meet, much less place third in an event.
His runner-up finish at regionals with a jump of 6-6 made him believe he could do well at the state level, and he backed up that belief by clearing 6-6 again Friday.
“I knew coming in I had one of the top heights,” Garver said. “So obviously it was a goal to get on the podium and I really wanted to compete well and I think I really competed well today.
“Watching the guys warm up, I’m like ‘I can compete with these guys.’ I was really confident coming into this meet. At regionals I kind of jumped the same way. I just kind of went over (the bar) effortlessly. It seemed to work well and I just tried to stick to what I did.”
Wilson also made his first appearance at the state championships and exceeded his expectations in the process.
Coming out of the Tiffin regional, which produced the top four qualifying heights entering the state finals, prepared the junior for the difficult competition he faced Friday.
By clearing 14-4, he secured himself a third-place finish and a place near the top of the podium. It was more about the experience itself to Wilson, though, and he was excited regardless of the outcome.
“I’m just really happy that I made it down to state,” he said. “That’s already, in itself, a big accomplishment so I was happy with that. My performance today, I really couldn’t be any happier. I made the podium, top three, that’s really all I could ask for all season.”
Liberty-Benton’s B.J. Lawson and Chase Cook finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the long jump.
Lawson set a new school record by four inches with a leap of 22-7. Cook, who placed in four events at the state meet last season and battled a hamstring injury most of the year, recorded a mark of 21-6 to finish his career with the Eagles.
“It is a great honor,” Lawson said of breaking the school record. “We have, in our past, a lot of really great long jumpers. Coming into the season that’s not something I was expecting but it feels really great now. It’s hard to put into words really.
“I think a big thing is the atmosphere. It’s a different feeling from any other meet. The adrenaline kicks in a lot earlier. You’re thinking about the meet from the start of the week.”
Cook, who will continue his career at the University of Akron, said making one final trip to the state meet brought mixed emotions. But he was glad he got to share it with teammates and was able to end things on a positive note after the uncertainty he faced this year.
“Being on the podium four times last year was a great honor,” he said. “Being on the podium for the last time was a little bittersweet. The part I really loved was being on the podium with my teammate B.J. I’m so proud of (him). Last year I wouldn’t even have thought he’d be here. New school record by four inches and he’s only a junior.”
Carey’s Jacob Goble finished seventh in the shot put with a toss of 52-2, while the Columbus Grove quartet of Bryce Sharrits, Colton Grothaus, David Bogart and Alex Giesige took seventh in the 3,200 relay in a time of 8:08.58.
In Division II, Ottawa-Glandorf’s 3,200 relay squad of Brad Recker, Sid Moening, Trevor Ellerbrock and Matias Trampe-Kindt placed sixth in 8:03.19.
Patrick Henry’s Zach Nye advanced to the finals of the 110 hurdles after posting a preliminary time of 14.77 seconds. The senior will also run in the finals of the 400 relay along with Jacob Ehlers, Mitchell Bonner and Donny Johnson after the team ran a 43.79 in the semifinals.
Bluffton’s 400 relay (43.79), 800 relay (1:29.30) and 1,600 relay (3:21.46) squads all earned a spot in the finals based on preliminary times. Noah Stratton, who will run the anchor leg of the 800 and 1,600 relays, will also compete in the 400 after recording a time of 49.62 seconds in the semifinals.
Ada’s Matthew Wilcox ran a 50.04 to also qualify for the 400 finals today.
OTHER AREA BOYS FINISHES
PV — 12, Laubenthal (O-G) 13-6.
PV — 12, Cornwell (L-B) 13-0. 3,200 RELAY — 14, Riverdale (Pever, Evans, Lauck, Fox) 8:22.44. 110HH — 14, Murriel (Leip) 15.55. 800 RELAY — 11, Hopewell-Loudon (Velasquez, Gase, Breidenbach, Tooker) 1:32.58. 200 — 10, Little (Blu) 22.83. 12, Ma. Wilcox (Ada) 22.95. 1,600 RELAY — 15, Liberty-Benton (Boehme, Conkle, Lyberg, Snook) 3:31.51.
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