RICHMOND DALE — The Northwest Mohawks — specifically seniors Gabe Morrell, Josh Shope and the most decorated Landen Smith —are used to running hills.
But, on the flat track surface of Southeastern High School on Thursday, that Mohawk trio —along with junior Mason Breech —made their way to the top of the regional mountain.
That’s because the quartet of Shope, Breech, Morrell and Smith —in yet another new Northwest record time of a blazing eight minutes and two seconds — captured the Division II Region 7 championship in the 4x800m relay, as Smith and Shope are headed back to the coveted state meet for a third and final time.
As the opening day of two of the regional meet’s running events at Southeastern got going, it was no surprise that Northwest won the 4x800m going away.
Three years ago, Shope and Smith made up half of that unit that finished fourth at the regional —and returned their sophomore season along with Morrell and the graduated Chase McClay two years back to take home regional runner-up.
That same foursome, at the state meet, made all-Ohio by placing seventh —but no doubt Northwest with this year’s bunch could definitely be considered one of the state title favorites.
After all, two seconds shy of an even eight minutes is motoring around the track for an even eight laps.
Northwest, which won its second consecutive Division II Southeast District championship a week ago, won 10 team points with the top-flight 4×800 performance.
The regional runner-up, Union Local (8:13.44), was 11 seconds back —followed by fellow state qualifying clubs River View (8:16.96) and Warren.
The Lady Mohawks will also have a previous all-Ohioan make one final state appearance —as the Division II girls high jump runner-up of two years ago is coming back to suburban Columbus.
Haidyn Wamsley, who jumped five feet and six inches two years ago inside Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, was the fourth-place finisher on Thursday —clearing five feet and two inches.
She jumped 5-6 at the state two years back before breaking her own school record and winning the district championship at Washington Court House with a jump of 5-7 and one-quarter, and actually passed on jumping 5-3 at Southeastern.
She cleared 5-2 on the first attempt but missed all three attempts at 5-4, as Maddie Gill of Wheelersburg and Lily Harriott of Warren tied Wamsley with 5-2 —but Wamsley had fewer misses, actually none, on that tiebreaker.
Gill finished fifth with one miss and Harriott had two, thus clinching a state spot for Wamsley — and collecting the Lady Mohawks five team points.
Abby Wheeler of Minerva won the regional championship by jumping 5-4, followed by runner-up Camden Black of Meadowbrook and third-place Lexi Tucci of Sandy Valley at 5-3.
Wamsley also advanced to Saturday’s finals for the girls 100m hurdles, running a 15.42 in the preliminaries — and trailing only Odessa Smith (15.38) of Morgan and Southeast District champion Lauren Jolly (15:35) of Wheelersburg.
The highly-decorated senior Jolly, who with Wamsley competes in the long jump championship on Saturday, competed in three events on Thursday — and also advanced in the 300m hurdles by posting the seventh-fastest time (47.79).
The top two in each heat of the semifinals followed by the next four fastest times qualify for the finals.
And, Jolly almost made it to the finals in all three events — as she clocked in with the ninth-fastest time in the 200m dash at 27.27, needing a 26.88 to advance.
In addition to Jolly in both and Wamsley in one hurdles races, two boys sprint relay teams qualified for the finals —the Northwest 4x400m and the Portsmouth 4x100m.
Northwest’s group of Breech, Morrell, the anchor Shope and opening leg Brayden Campbell crossed the line with the third-fastest time in 3:33 —while the Trojans’ tandem of Dante Hamrick, Beau Hammond and seniors Omarian Martin and Chris Duff were seventh (44.9).
The top eight placers in each event all earn points on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 point system, as junior Karley Kouns of Wheelersburg wound up with one girls team point by placing eighth in the shot put (34 4-1/4).
Combined with Gill’s fifth-place in the high jump, the Lady Pirates put up five points for day one.
Those not placing in events on Thursday were Campbell and Duff in the boys long jump, the Lady Mohawks including senior Ellie Curtis in the girls 4x800m relay, senior Caleb Crabtree in the boys discus, and junior Ava Jenkins in the high jump.
Four sprint relay teams did not qualify for the finals — the Wheelersburg girls in the 4x200m, the Wheelersburg boys in the 4x100m, and both Mohawk men’s clubs.
Individuals which did not qualify included Minford senior Drew Skaggs in the boys 110m high hurdles, Hamrick and Martin in the boys 100m dash, and Northwest’s Jay Jenkins in the 300m hurdles.
As for Wamsley and the Mohawks’ 4x800m boys, the first of their final Northwest career events will be on Friday at Pickerington North High School — at 10 a.m. in the high jump for Wamsley and the 4x800m at 2:15.
But first things first on Saturday, it’s Day 2 of the regional —with field events finals beginning at 11 a.m.
The Southeast District girls discus champion, senior Justus Steward, will throw — while it’s primarily a jumpers galore.
Duff and Casey Doerr of Wheelersburg will go in the boys high jump — while Wamsley, Jolly, Jenkins and Gill go in the girls long jump.
Jolly and Wamsley will run the 100m hurdles finals at 12:30, followed then by a run on runners —as Junie Allen of Minford for the girls (1:05) and Morrell and Smith for the boys (1:15) go in the 1,600.
Shope and Breech for Northwest will run the 800m at 2 p.m. — followed by Allen at 2:15 and Smith and Minford senior Dutch Byrd at 2:30 in the 3,200m run.
In between and among, Portsmouth’s boys in the 4x100m are at 1:30, Jolly in the 300m hurdles is at 1:45, and Northwest’s boys conclude the meet in the 4x400m at 2:55.
A complete list of results can be found at www.baumspage.com.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved