RICHMOND DALE — On Wednesday, it was all about Benjamin.
Valley senior Ryan Benjamin that is.
That’s because Benjamin, the standout Indian thrower and Walsh University signee, became the first Scioto County track and field athlete to qualify for the state meet — as he finished fourth in the boys discus throw as part of Day 1 of the regional meet on the campus of Southeastern High School.
With the top four placers in each event at the regional meet moving on to this year’s state competition, Benjamin beat the fifth-place thrower by almost eight feet —as his top toss of 146 feet and three inches vaulted him into fourth, and punched his ticket to the Division III state meet at Westerville North.
This will be his first state experience, as the 2020 Ohio High School Athletic Association spring sports seasons were canceled because of the coronavirus threat.
Benjamin will be joined in suburban Columbus — and unfortunately not at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium where the state meet has been held since 2004 — by regional champion Eric Hurtt of Adena (160-07), runner-up Ben Riegel of Centerburg (158-05), and third-place Mason Kiesel of South Central (149-06).
Benjamin and Valley sophomore teammate Justin Moore made it out to the regional by placing third and fourth respectively at the district meet —as Moore was 11th on Wednesday and did not place by not finishing among the top eight.
Hence, Benjamin has all five of the Indians’ points after the meet’s opening day.
In other finals events on Wednesday, Green senior Ethan Huffman was 10th in the boys long jump —and South Webster was 15th for the girls and 12th for the boys in the 4x800m relay.
The only senior South Webster runner among its long-distance relay units was Rylee Hagen for the ladies.
As for the preliminaries in the running events, New Boston senior De’Von Jones made it a finals-qualifying sweep in the boys sprints.
Jones was seventh in the semifinals of the 100m dash (11.56), and followed that with a sixth-place semifinal performance in the 200m dash (23.08).
Jones was the Division III Southeast District champion in the 200m — as the top two in each heat and the next four fastest times in Wednesday’s semifinals come back for Friday’s finals.
He was the only Scioto County qualifier —either boys or girls — to advance to the finals from Wednesday.
Other non-qualifiers on the boys side included Notre Dame’s Dariyonne Bryant in both the 100m and 200m dashes, South Webster’s Brody Boggs in the 110m high hurdles, and Notre Dame’s sprint relay quartets (4x100m and 4x200m).
For the girls, Valley senior Natalie Buckle — the Southeast District 100m hurdles champion —was 10th in that event in the prelims, and actually ninth in the 300m hurdles.
She finished fourth in the district meet in the 300m, and ran 50.54 seconds in the regional —as it took 50.29 to qualify for Friday’s finals.
Buckle also ran the opening leg for the Lady Indians’ 4x100m relay team, as Notre Dame’s Charlee Lansing and Green’s Katelinn Satterfield —both sophomores —joined Buckle in the 100m hurdles.
For a complete list of Wednesday’s results, and an updated program for Friday’s finals at Southeastern, please see www.baumspage.com.
Benjamin — who will throw the disc at the state meet at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 5 — will attempt to become a double qualifier, when he competes in the regional shot put.
Moore will join him for that event as well, as Huffman comes back for the boys high jump —while Gavin Cayton in the boys high jump and Tabby Whitt in the girls discus throw will represent Clay on the regional stage.
Benjamin, Huffman and Whitt all won district championships in those aforementioned events.
Joining Jones on the track for Friday’s finals will be South Webster junior Caden Conley, who will compete at 7:30 p.m. in the boys 3,200m run.
All field event finals will begin at 4 p.m., followed by the finals in all running events beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved