PDT Sports Writer
COLUMBUS — Scioto County was represented in four events during the first day of the 2013 OHSAA State Track and Field Meet at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The following is a recap of how the athletes fared in their events:
Pyles, Jenkins miss out on finals
Wheelersburg had a pair of seniors competing in Division III events that were running concurrently on opposite sides of the facilities.
At the discus ring, Ross Pyles competed in his first state meet and finished 14th with a best throw of 140-01. After greatly improving from his first throw, Pyles was glad to finish his high school career at the state level.
“Being up here, it was real fun and a real new experience,” Pyles said. “…You get nervous, there’s a lot more people here than what you ever see at a regular track meet.”
Along with playing on the football team this fall, Pyles will also throw at Ohio Wesleyan.
At the long jump pit, Zach Jenkins improved nearly a foot between his first and third jumps but nearly three inches was the difference making advancing to the finals and being eliminated.
Jenkins, also in his first state meet, went from 19-10.75 to 20-7 but finished 10th overall in the prelims. The top nine advanced to the finals as Leipsic’s Derek Steffan advanced with a jump of 20-9.25 for the final spot.
“That was my best this year so I guess that I can’t really ask for much more,” Jenkins said.
Their coach, Josh McFadden, said it was tough to follow both athletes simultaneously but he felt both performed admirably.
“It was something that they had worked for the last three years,” McFadden said. “It was something they really wanted and they’ve been so close.
“They both had been to the regional track meet and hadn’t made it. So for them to at least be one of the top 16 guys in the state of Ohio in the division is a pretty huge accomplishment.”
Minford 400 relay finishes 14th in prelims
A year after missing the state meet, the Minford 400-meter relay team returned to Columbus for the third time in four years with four fresh faces.
The team of Chris McCallister, Zach Farrar, Grant Piguet and Sean Berry ran a time of 44.36, good enough for 14th in the Division II prelims.
McCallister said he knew that his run out of the blocks were essential to giving his team any chance of advancing. As a sophomore, he felt the stage brought more adrenaline.
“It was pretty intense coming in as a sophomore and it was also pretty intense starting off with about the same amount of people that (were) at regionals just on the fence looking at me,” McCallister said.
Farrar, one of two seniors on the squad, was a midseason replacement.
“I remember at the beginning of the year, (coach Jesse) Ruby said we were going to the state in the (400 relay),” Farrar said. “He said it all year, even before the season even started, he said that we’re going to go back. I really didn’t believe him and I wasn’t even really in any care because I wasn’t on it but then he put me on it and I was okay.”
Piguet, whose older brother J.P. helped the 400 relay squad to a fourth place finish in 2011, said there was a sibling rivalry between the two prior to the race.
“He just really motivated me because he said that he’s faster than me,” Piguet said. “I had to prove him wrong on that.”
Berry finished his final high school race with a flurry but admitted the anchor leg is where teams save their best for last. He said qualifying 15th and taking the seventh lane in the first heat the previous two trips were signs they were hoping would be fruitful once more.
“When I was standing there, I was marking off my steps from my exchange zone,” Berry said. “I looked over and I saw the anchor leg for one of the other schools was the kid who won the 100 (dash) today and ran a 10.6 so it was a little intimidating having to run against people like that.”
Ruby said it’s another step to growing a budding mainstay at the state level. This year’s group revealed how they were able to overcome obstacles such as a change in chemistry.
“They’re just hard workers and they work well together,” Ruby said. “They can handle adversity and they took advantage of the opportunities they were given. We’ve improved a lot in the last three weeks.”
The Falcons conclude participation Saturday as Kenton Gullion competes in the high jump.
Hodge stumbles in 100 hurdles
Matt Hodge has encountered some bad luck in the boys Division III 110 hurdles the last two years in the postseason.
After being disqualified in the event during last year’s district meet, the Valley junior was disqualified as he failed to stay in his lane and fell during his semifinal heat.
He qualified for the state meet with a time of 14.52 seconds, third-fastest for the heat he was competing in and sixth-fastest overall for the division.
“I felt real good coming in,” Hodge said. “During my race, my start was good. I don’t know what the heck happened.”
Hodge cleared the first half of the obstacles with no issue before he was unable to complete the final few sets as he swerved from his No. 2 lane assignment.
“I just needed to finish,” Hodge said. “…The finals race is all I’ve wanted to do for the past two years.”
His coach, Darren Crabtree, understood fate wasn’t on his athlete’s side.
“It’s disappointing to see him finish with the way his season was,” Crabtree said.
It was the second-straight year Hodge, Valley’s lone representative this season, made it to the state meet. Last year, he finished third in the 300 hurdles with a time of 39.34. This year, he was unable to advance in the same event as he finished eighth in the regionals.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or email@example.com. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.