They say that eight is indeed enough.
For this season anyway, it’s eight Ohio Valley Publishing area participants competing in this weekend’s Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II state track and field meet.
Four ladies from Meigs, three seniors from Gallia Academy and Isaiah Beach of River Valley will partake in Friday’s semifinals and Saturday’s finals —held inside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
Three of the eight are repeat performers, including a pair of Gallia Academy “three-peaters” in their signature events.
The eight also include a pair of past placers, while a pair of senior individuals and one relay team is making their state debut.
The top returnee is sophomore Kassidy Betzing, who returns to defend her all-Ohio status — while aiming for the state championship — in the girls long jump.
Betzing placed seventh in last season’s event with a best jump of 17-feet, two-and-three-quarter inches — which she scored on her third and final preliminary jump.
The top eight placers in each event at the state meet earn all-Ohio honors, and take their place on the OHSAA awards podium.
But already this season, Betzing broke the Division II Southeast District meet record with a personal-record leap of 18-feet and seven inches —en route to capturing both the district and regional championships.
In winning last week’s regional title, Betzing’s best jump was 18-feet, four-and-one-fourths inches, of which she actually tied fellow sophomore Alexis Prater of Ridgewood.
Betzing and Prater both best-jumped 18-4 1/4, but Betzing benefited from her second-best jump — which was 18-feet and one-and-a-half.
Prater posted a second-best jump of one inch shy of exactly 18-feet, but Betzing boasted the tiebreaker — and thus stood atop the podium at meet’s end.
And, she wants to stand atop the state meet podium as well.
Betzing will jump bright and early on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m., and is the second jumper in the first flight of 16 total competitors.
Both Betzing and Prater (18-4 1/4) are entering the competition with the second-best regional jumps, trailing only defending state runner-up in senior Jamari McDavid of Springfield Kenton Ridge.
McDavid, who nearly nailed 19-feet (18-11 1/4) at last year’s regional meet, leads the two-flight field with an 18-feet, eight -and-three-quarter inches leap from this year’s regional.
In last season’s state meet, McDavid and Ellie Ruby of Wheelersburg were tied at 18-feet and one-and-a-half inches, but Ruby’s second-best jump was exactly 18-feet for the championship tiebreaker.
Ruby returns for her junior season, as she and Jenna Frantz of Versailles jumped 18-feet and three inches in their respective regionals.
The only other girl over 18-feet is senior Lisa Bailey of Logan Elm, who hit a regional-best jump of 18-1.
But Betzing will be appearing in two state events this year.
That’s because the Lady Marauders’ 4x100m relay squad qualified for Friday’s state semifinals, finishing a strong third-place in the regional sprint.
The Maroon and Gold group of Betzing, fellow sophomore and anchor leg Taylor Swartz, and seniors Devyn Oliver and Sky Brown completed the lap dash in a fast one-hundredth of a second (49.99) shy of exactly 50 seconds.
Only the foursomes from Steubenville (49.76) and Minerva (49.96), in less than 25 one-hundredths of a second faster than the Marauders, crossed ahead of Meigs.
The top four placers in each event at the regional meet qualify for the state meet.
In the state semifinals, the top two placers in each of two heats —followed by the next five-fastest times —qualify for Saturday’s state championship races.
The Lady Marauders will run from lane 2 in the second heat, as the quartet from Akron Buchtel (48.97) boasts the fastest second-heat preliminary time.
Beachwood, by over a full second, has the fastest first-heat speed at 48.70.
There are actually eight clubs, including Meigs, whose regional runs ranged between 49.56 seconds and 50.02 seconds.
The Lady Marauders will run the 4x100m semifinal on Friday at 2:50 p.m. —and exactly 23 hours later (1:50 p.m.) should they qualify for Saturday’s finals.
For Gallia Academy, senior Madi Oiler is “three-peating” to the state meet in the Division II girls 300m hurdles — after her repeat regional runner-up.
Oiler — after a sixth-place finish in the state two years ago (45.38)— ended up with a time of 44.53 seconds on Saturday, trailing only junior Karlie Zumbro (44.25) of John Glenn.
She had the 12th-fastest time (46.27) in last season’s state semifinals, but is looking for a second and final appearance on the medals stand.
She will run in the preliminaries on Friday at 3:20 p.m., running in Lane 6 of the opening of two heats.
Of the 16 state qualifiers, Oiler enters with the second-fastest time in her heat and the fourth-fastest regional time overall.
Should she advance to Saturday’s finals, she will run at 2:15 p.m.
The only regional times ahead of Oiler (44.53) are those of Zumbro (44.25, Lane 4, Heat 2), senior Emily Marsico of Girard (44.04, Lane 6, Heat 2) and junior Sara Foster of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (43.77, Lane 4, Heat 1).
Besides Betzing and Oiler, Gallia Academy senior Isaiah Lester returns — running individually in the boys 800m run for the third and final time.
Lester, as a freshman, qualified for the state track and field meet — as part of the Blue Devils’ 4x800m group.
The past two years, he placed 15th as a sophomore in two minutes and two seconds — and 13th as a junior in 1:58.
This year, Lester landed the regional runner-up with a time of 1:57.63, trailing only champion Kyle Clellan of Sheridan (1:57.01) — by a mere 62-hundredths of a second.
But Lester won’t be the only Blue Devil in the 800m run — as fellow senior Kaleb Crisenbery qualified in a minute and 58 seconds.
This will be Crisenbery’s first — and final — time advancing to the state in track and field, following his eighth-place finish in the 145-pound weight class of the Division II state wrestling tournament.
He finished fourth at the regional after winning the district —but only trailed the champion Clellan by a second and 11-hundredths.
Both Blue Devils will run the 800 on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., as Crisenbery (Lane 5B) and Lester (Lane 6B) will begin the two-lap race in adjacent lanes — sandwiched around Taylor Hopkins (Lane 6A) of Heath.
Hopkins has the event’s fastest regional time of a minute and 53 seconds (1:53.85).
Also qualifying for the state — for the first and final time — was the senior Beach in the boys 110m high hurdles.
Beach finished fourth in the regional in 15.63 seconds, and will sprint from the difficult Lane 1 in the first heat of Friday’s semifinals.
He will run at 2:10 p.m., followed by a 1:05 p.m. appearance on Saturday — should he advance.
Complete heat and flight assignments, as well as results, of the annual OHSAA state track and field meet can be found at www.ohsaa.org.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106
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