County has best showing at state
COLUMBUS — Columbiana County stocked up on medals at the state track meet over the weekend.
County athletes collected five state titles — the most in the 112-year history of the OHSAA state meet. There also were two state runners-up and two third places for a total of 14 state placers.
“I knew we had some good kids,” Wellsville coach Randy Thrasher said. “They all did well. Sometimes you get a lot of kids going and they fade out. They didn’t this time. They all stepped up.
Crestview senior Dominic Perry repeated as the Division III state shot put champion and Wellsville junior Justin Wright had a dramatic victory in the Division III long jump for the county’s first two titles.
“I think Dominic slept with his medal,” Crestview coach Greg Woolman said. “He still had his on from the night before.”
There were three more champions on Saturday as Wright ran away with the 100-meter dash title.
Crestview seniors Dylan Huff and Jayce Meredith and sophomores Ethan Powell and Brandon Yanssens followed by winning the Division III 800-meter relay in a state meet record time of 1:27.71 and added the 400-meter relay title minutes later.
“I knew they would be good, but I didn’t know how good,” Thrasher said. “They improved a lot this year.”
The most state titles in a single meet for Columbiana County before this year was four — coming in 2009, 1984, 1923 and 1921.
“We started going to these bigger invitationals and people learned who we are,” Woolman said. “People started to notice how good they are and how fast they are. It’s been along time coming for some of them.”
Wright and Huff were joined as state champions by Springfield senior Garrett Walker in the Division III 400-meter dash. They were the top three runners out of the Springfield district.
“The Walker kid he’s a special type of athlete, too,” Woolman said. “It says a lot for our area, having kids like Justin, Dylan and Garrett who are ridiculous athletes.
The Crestview boys finished as the Division III state runner-up in the team standings with 36 points. Only the 1984 Class A state champion Leetonia Bears scored more in county history with 46 points.
“I told Dylan, “You deserve everything you get. There’s no better way to go out your senior year the way you did,’ Woolman said.
“With Dom, it’s just expected. That’s how dominant he’s been since a freshman.”
Wellsville matched its highest finish at state with a fourth in the team standings thanks to Wright’s 28 points.
” I thought there was an outside chance we’d finish in the top six,” Thrasher said. “Aything can happen down there and it usually does.”
“Wellsville finished fourth and Dylan said it was Justin who finished fourth,” Woolman said. “He could score 40 points by himself next year. He’ll be the favorite in three of the events. In the high jump, if he gets a little form, he could jump 6-5. He’s a very special athlete.”
“He supports us and we support him,” Huff said. “Our friendship has strengthened the last few meets.”
Wright is only the second county athlete to capture at least two golds and one silver as an individual in a state meet.
Paul “Boots” Hawkins won three field events in both 1921 and 1922.
“Justin talked all the way home about the long jump and the 200,” Thrasher said. “He wants to break that (200) record next year.”
After the most successful state meet in county history, there will be no way to match it next year.
“You never know,” Thrasher said. “We might be shocked next year.”
Crestview junior Sidney Rambo became the first girls in school history to place at state without much fanfare.
She took third place in the Division II discus (133-feet-6) on Friday. Most of the attention was on the Crestview boys and their three state champions.
“It’s funny because she’s just been steady and consistent. She got a little bit better every time,” Woolman said. “She got overshadowed a little bit by the boys. And also (Salem state runner-up Caitlyn Marx). It’s a tough shadow to get out of.”
• Marx’s second-place finish in the Division II discus is the highest by a Salem girl in the field events.
The only Salem girl to place higher in any event at the state meet is Theresa Kaine, who was first in the Division II 3200 run (11:19.29) and second in the 1600 run (5:09.73) in 1991.
Ironically, her son, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary senior Collin Scahill, ran against the Salem boys in the 3200-meter relay Friday. The Irish finished in 10th place, three seconds ahead of the Quakers in 13th place.
• The Salem girls scored nine points this weekend, bettered only by the Quakers’ teams in 1990 and 1991 that scored 18 points each year.
• United junior Jaret Hahn finished fourth in the Division III 110 hurdles, joining Jordan Johnson (2008), Steve Baker (2010) and Riley Fillman (2015) as United hurdlers with top four state finishes.
• One of the biggest surprises was Beaver Local freshman James Monte in the Division II 110 hurdles. Coming in with the 13-fastest time, Monte had a great start to take second place in his heat in Friday’s preliminaries. He was the only freshman or sophomore in the field.
“The Monte boy surprised me a little,” Thrasher said. “I didn’t know he could develop as quickly as he has.”
Monte finished sixth in Saturday’s state finals.
• One of the most memorable moments of the state meet was Wright winning the long jump in dramatic fashion.
“Definitely the long jump,” Thrasher said. “Justin sure looked terrible. The 23 footer was a surprise.”
Officials announced he was in 10th place after the preliminaries. Actually he was tied for ninth, giving him three more jumps. He was dressed and ready to leave when he found out he was getting three more jumps. His parents were waiting for him the parking lot until they were told to come back.
Wright leaped into third place on his next-to-last jump with a 22-1 and had a personal-best 23-3 1/4 on his last try. The last jumper, Chillicothe Southeastern junior Lane Ruby, just missed passing Wright by going 23-2 1/2.
• “Track has become more important around here,” Thrasher said. “It’s kind of a surprise to me. I don’t think kids have taken it quite as seriously. I think there is more interest in track here at Wellsville recently.”
After Wright came home Saturday with two state titles, some underclassmen were calling the coach Saturday night and Sunday about getting ready for next season.
“I’ve gotten phone calls from some of the younger kids, ‘When are we going to start working out?'” Thrasher said.