THE PLAINS, Ohio — For Meigs, Gallia Academy and River Valley, there were no tickets punched to next week’s coveted state track and field meet.
At least not on Thursday anyway.
However, that trio of Division II clubs did keep their state dreams alive —by advancing to the finals in several events on Saturday.
In addition to Saturday’s scheduled final events, two seniors and two Meigs relay squads qualified for the Division II, Region 7 running finals —as the annual two-day regional meet began on Thursday inside Athens High School’s sparkling Rutter Field.
There were also some scheduled finals, including Gallia Academy’s girls and boys teams in the 4x800m relay, but neither distance unit advanced to the state.
Instead, the success was in the sprints —starting with GAHS senior Madi Oiler in her trademark 300m hurdles.
Oiler, a two-time state meet qualifier in the 300m, won her heat in the semifinals — and advanced to Saturday’s finals with the second-fastest overall time in 45.40 seconds.
She trailed only Karlie Zumbro of John Glenn by a mere one and five-hundredths of a second (44.35), as the top two placers in each heat followed by the next four-fastest times qualified for the finals.
Oiler also competed in the 100m hurdles, but finished with the 11-fastest preliminary time and did not advance.
She also anchored the Blue Angels’ 4x400m relay — with fellow senior Mary Watts (third leg), freshman Brooke Johnson (second leg) and junior Hailey Deem (opening leg) —but GAHS did not qualify for the finals.
In the boys high hurdles, River Valley senior Isaiah Beach boasted the seventh-fastest semifinal time in 15.97 seconds — and qualified for the weekend.
For the Meigs girls, the Lady Marauders’ 4x100m relay team was the second-fastest in the first heat and the fourth-fastest overall in 50.58.
The foursome of seniors Devyn Oliver (first leg) and Sky Brown (third leg) and sophomores Kassidy Betzing (second leg) and Taylor Swartz (anchor leg) returned for Saturday’s one-lap dash.
Betzing, Swartz and Gallia Academy’s Alex Barnes were all expected to compete in the long jump on Saturday, as Betzing was last year’s regional runner-up — and this year’s district champion in that event.
Swartz was the district runner-up behind Betzing, as both actually qualified for Thursday’s 100m dash semifinals, but neither competed.
Betzing, in fact, was also the district champion in the sprint.
The other Marauder relay quartet to qualify for the finals was the boys 4x200m, which had the sixth-fastest time in a minute and 32 seconds.
The group included sophomores Jacob Perry (first leg) and Cole Adams (second leg) — and seniors Grant Adams (third leg) and Nate Hoover (anchor leg).
The Marauders’ 4x100m also ran — and included Perry, the Adams pair and Lane Cullums — but did not advance to the finals.
Also competing, but not advancing, from the semifinals were River Valley senior J.D. Dummit in both hurdles races — and River Valley freshman Savannah Reese in the girls 400m dash.
In fact, in all three events, Dummit and Reese recorded the 14th-fastest times.
In events which were finals, Meigs senior Jared Kennedy leapt once in the boys long jump — recording a 20-foot, three-inch leap.
However, he suffered a knee injury in the competition — and unfortunately could not continue.
Kennedy’s injury also impacted the Marauders’ 4x400m relay, which did not compete as a result.
He was scheduled to join the anchor Hoover, Grant Adams and Zach Bartrum.
In the meet-opening 4x800m relay —both Blue Angel and Blue Devil squads competed — but the girls group of Watts, Deem, Johnson and senior Mesa Polcyn placed 13th (10:34), while the boys bunch of Isaiah Lester, Caleb Greenlee, Kyle Greenlee and Kaleb Crisenbery ended up 11th (8:26).
The top eight placers in each event earn points, but only the top four advance to the state.
For River Valley, sophomore Eric Weber was 14th (128-feet, nine-inches) in the boys discus, while sophomore Kelsey Brown was 14th (30-feet, 1/4 inches) and senior Brianna McGuire 16th (29-feet, 2 1/2 inches) in the girls shot put.
In addition to the qualifiers from the semifinals — along with the girls long jumpers — Saturday’s other participants included Meigs’ Bailey Caruthers and Devon Hawley in the boys high jump, Meigs senior Jesse Donahue in the girls discus, River Valley’s Nathaniel Abbott in the boys mile, Crisenbery and Lester in the boys 800m run and Watts in the girls 800m run.
A complete list of results can be found on www.baumspage.com.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106