RICHMOND DALE — Don’t tell these Northwest Mohawks it’s too cool or windy to run.
That’s because, on Saturday’s second day of two of the Division II Region 7 track and field meet at Southeastern High School’s R.L. Davisson Athletic Complex, some Mohawk men made good indeed on qualifying for the state meet in individual distance events.
With already Northwest’s boys 4x800m relay team capturing the regional championship on Thursday in a fiery eight minutes and two seconds, three of those Mohawk members — seniors Landen Smith and Josh Shope and junior Mason Breech all advanced individually, including the decorated Smith as a double qualifier for the one-mile and two-mile runs.
For Smith, he was a regional champion in two events —already the anchor leg in the 4x800m on a hot and humid Thursday, then the 1,600m run champion in four minutes and 25 seconds on an unseasonably dreary Saturday.
Smith then completed the state qualifying double —finishing fourth in the 3,200m run and punching his third overall ticket to Pickerington North with the final qualifying spot in 9:47.45.
Chris Tooms, a junior from John Glenn (9:37.36), was the two-mile champion in exactly 10 seconds faster.
In between Smith’s mile and two-mile runs, Shope secured a regional championship of his own —winning the 800m run in a minute and 57 seconds.
In that same event, Breech joined Shope on the awards podium —and will join him in suburban Columbus as another individual state qualifier.
Breech finished fourth in the 800m in 2:00.36, and was only 12 one-hundredths (2:00.48) of a second from placing third.
The top four in each event at the regional meet move on to the state meet, as the top eight in each event at the regional meet earn team points.
Speaking of which, the Mohawks —which won the Southeast District Division II championship at Washington Court House —mustered 44 points, trailing only champion West Holmes (56) and runner-up Lisbon Beaver (51) in the final standings.
Union Local, with 40 points, was the only other club which scored at least 40 on the boys side.
For departing Northwest assistant coach Adam Schroeder, who directs the distance runners and who coached the boys cross country program to back-to-back state meet appearances, he said “Thursday and Saturday sure make coaching fun”.
“There is nothing better than watching your kids perform at the level that you know they are capable of,” he said. “The 4x800m has been on a mission this entire year and they were able to come out on top. I was impressed that they have the right mindset for state. They didn’t celebrate the win much, they went to work the next day because they know they have a chance to win state and that has been a big goal all year. The mile kept my blood pressure up the entire time. After the race was over, I was very upset with Landen’s (Smith) racing tactics and how he relied on his kick so much. I was giving him a stern talk about not making those same mistakes and luckily (Northwest boys) Coach (Dave) Frantz came over and told me not to be too tough since he did just win a regional championship. If he runs a smart race and reacts well to everyone’s move, I don’t think anyone can run a last 400m like him. He has a real chance to pull out a win in the mile. The 800m might have been the most exciting race of the day for me. Josh (Shope) did what he has done all year and that was take care of business and pull out the win. He has been so consistent that I have not worried much about him. State will be a huge challenge as he goes against the best, but he has the speed and endurance to put himself in the race. If he executes his race he can podium and maybe get pretty high on the podium. Mason Breech had the most impressive improvement of anyone. He had a five-second open 800 PR (personal record) to get into fourth place and qualify for state. This year, he finally started believing in his ability and the results speak for themselves. In the last 200m, he kicked past four people to secure his spot. Then Landen did great in the two mile. He hates running it, but he did enough to advance and next week he is going to put it all out there and see if he can make it in the top eight. It is fun seeing those athletes on the top of the podium at regionals, but people do not see or know the sacrifices that they have made.”
However, Smith won’t be the only Mohawk moving on in three events.
He will in fact be joined by his girlfriend and fellow future Shawnee State University student-athlete in track and field Haidyn Wamsley.
Wamsley, already advancing to the state meet by placing fourth on Thursday in the girls high jump, was the runner-up in the 100m hurdles —and an at-large state selection in the long jump.
Wamsley was the third-fastest 100m hurdler in the preliminaries at 15.42 seconds, but ran a runner-up 15.36 time to champion Odessa Smith of Morgan.
Smith, who was 10 one-hundredths (15.26) of a second faster than Wamsley in the finals, was the second-fastest (15.38) in the prelims behind Wheelersburg senior Lauren Jolly (15.15).
More on Jolly shortly, as she jumped with Wamsley in the long jump as well — as Wamsley, the Southeast District champion in the event with a best leap of 17 feet and four inches, was sixth on Saturday at Southeastern with a best jump of 16-2.
However, under the OHSAA’s new at-large statewide selection process, Smith (16-3) and Wamsley (16-2) were the next two top Division II regional jumpers in the entire state beyond the 16 automatic qualifiers —and thus both will jump at Pickerington.
The same holds true for Wheelersburg senior Maddie Gill, who was fifth in the girls high jump and one spot behind Wamsley at the regional meet.
Gill and Lily Harriott of Warren tied Wamsley with clearing 5-2 —but Wamsley had fewer misses, actually none, on that tiebreaker.
Gill finished fifth with one miss and Harriott had two, thus clinching an automatic spot for Wamsley.
It was learned on Saturday, however, that Gill gets to go with the at-large bid.
Gill will be joined at the state by Jolly and fellow Lady Pirate senior Justus Steward, as Jolly placed fourth in the 100m hurdles finals (15.74) — and Steward finished fourth in the discus throw.
She hit 115 feet and nine inches with her best throw —of which there are six total for the nine finalists, three preliminaries tosses and three more for the finals.
Millie Ryan of Warren was the discus champion with a best toss of an impressive 129 feet on her initial throw, while Chanee Cremeens of Gallia Academy (119-07) and Lily Barnes of McClain (119 feet) managed runner-up and third-place respectively.
Emma Brown of Eastern Brown (15.65) joined Jolly, Wamsley and Smith as state qualifiers for the 100m hurdles.
Jolly also placed in two other events —sixth in the 300m hurdles in 48.56 seconds, and eighth in the long jump in 15-10 3-4.
As a team, the Lady Pirates placed 15th out of the 35 which scored points with 19 markers.
Other points earners on Saturday were Portsmouth’s seventh-place 4x100m relay team (Dante Hamrick, Beau Hammond and seniors Omarian Martin and Chris Duff), Minford senior Dutch Byrd’s sixth-place performance in the 3,200m run, and Northwest’s boys fifth-place effort in the 4x400m relay.
The Mohawks —consisting of opening leg Brayden Campbell, Breech, Morrell and Shope —were third in the prelims in 3:33.14, but were 81 one-hundredths of a second away from advancing to the state semifinals.
Northwest’s quartet clocked in at 3:34.95, while the Union Local unit landed the final spot in 3:34.16.
Morrell, individually, was 10th out of 11 runners in the 1,600m run in 4:47.
Another miler, Minford sophomore Junie Allen on the girls side, passed over the 1,600m run on Saturday to run only the 3,200m —of which she finished ninth in 12 minutes and 29 seconds.
Other field-event non-placers were Portsmouth’s Chris Duff in the boys high jump (10th), Wheelersburg’s Gill in the girls long jump (13th), and Northwest’s Ava Jenkins in the girls long jump (16th).
A complete list of results from the Division II Region 7 meet 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