Two schools headed in different directions, yet both are aiming for the same destination.
Gallia Academy is sending a trio and Eastern will have a pair of girls competing this weekend in the 2021 Ohio High School Athletic Association Track and Field Championships being held, by division, throughout the greater Columbus area.
All five local qualifiers are newcomers to the state meet. The Blue Angels have a finalist competing on Friday and a pair of finalists going on Saturday in the Division II tournament at Pickerington High School North, while the Lady Eagles have a finalist and a qualifier waiting for them for Friday in the Division III meet at Westerville North High School.
Senior Sarah Watts, sophomore Callie Wilson and sophomore Chanee Cremeens are representing GAHS at the state level this weekend, a first for the program since Madi Oiler appeared for a third straight year back in 2017.
Oiler and Mary Watts, one of Sarah’s sisters, collectively paired up in the 2015 D-2 state meet — the last time that Gallia Academy had multiple athletes in the same year.
Watts — a 2-time state qualifier in cross country and a state qualifier in indoor track — enters the D-2 1600m final on Saturday with the ninth fastest time (5:13.46) in a field of 16 competitors. Watts was third at the Region 7 meet to qualify.
Cremeens — who captured her first OVC title in the shot put this season — enters the D-2 discus final on Friday with the 12th best throw (119-7) in a field of 18 competitors. Cremeens was the Region 7 runner-up and set a personal record with her qualifying distance.
Wilson — who set the school record in the pole vault (11-4) this spring — earned one of the two at-large bids in the D-2 pole vault after placing sixth last week in the Region 7 meet with a height of 10 feet, 6 inches. Wilson enters the D-2 final on Saturday with in a 3-way tie with the 10th best qualifying effort out of 18 competitors.
Senior Layna Catlett and sophomore Erica Durst are representing EHS this weekend, which will be the first time that the Lady Eagles have had multiple state participants in the same year since Alia Hayes and Laura Pullins teamed up in the 2017 D-3 championships.
The Lady Eagles will also have an entrant in the D-3 state tournament for a 10th consecutive year, dating back to the 2011 campaign. No tournament was held in the spring of 2020 due to coronavirus.
Catlett — a 3-time discus champion and 2-time shot put champion within the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division — enters the D-3 discus final on Friday with the 14th best throw (113-3) in a field of 18 competitors. Catlett was second at the Region 11 meet to qualify.
Durst is the only non-finalist headed into the weekend as the sophomore enters the 400m dash qualifier on Friday with the 14th fastest time (1:00.70) out of 18 competitors. Durst needs one of the top nine efforts from the three semifinal heats to qualify for Saturday’s final.
Top eight finishes in any event are needed to score team points and reach the podium at the state level.
The Division I meet is also being held on Friday and Saturday at Hilliard Darby High School.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.