VINCENT - At approximately 1:54 p.m. on Friday, the Warren boys 4 by 800 meter relay team is hoping to be standing on the podium at the Ohio state track meet in Columbus.
The foursome of Sam Goodman, Brent Ash, Colton Cantley and Matthew Neehouse is scheduled to run at 1:45 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State, with the goal of placing eighth or higher to claim Division II All-Ohio status.
"We've got to stay focused and push ourselves," Goodman said.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Warren’s 4 by 800 meter relay team, from left to right: Sam Goodman, Colton Cantley, Matthew Neehouse and Brent Ash.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Goodman (left) and Ash exchange the baton during a handoff drill at a practice in Vincent Wednesday. The relay team will compete at the state meet Friday in Columbus.
Warren ran the 4 by 8 in eight minutes, 18.45 seconds to finish third at the regional meet in New Concord last week. That time is their best of the season, but head coach Al Riffey thinks they can improve on that.
"I think they're capable of under 8:10," Riffey said.
That's probably what it will take for the Warriors to have a shot at the podium, as 13 of the 16 teams in the field clocked under the 8:10 mark at their respective regional meets.
The Warriors aren't afraid of the challenge, though.
"It's gonna be a lot of fun," Ash said. "A lot of competition."
Leading off for Warren will be Neehouse, a sophomore. Neehouse joined the 4 by 8 team midway through the season and the foursome has competed together since and developed some chemistry on the track.
"Being a sophomore going to state is pretty cool," Neehouse said. "We're just gonna go up there and try to perform our best, do what we can, do well, run fast, run our (personal records)."
After two laps, Neehouse will give way to his classmate Cantley. Cantley is the younger brother of former Warren standout Tyler Cantley, an all-stater himself. The younger Cantley remembers watching his older brother at the state meet as a kid and relishes the opportunity to experience it as an athlete.
"About six years ago I was watching my brother run there," Cantley said. "I was short and fat. I didn't ever expect myself to be up there. It will be kind of the roles turned because my brother will be up there watching me. It will be exciting to see my family up there supporting me."
"I feel like I need to just go out and run my hardest. We've put in the effort and we deserve to be there. I feel like if we go out and do our best, we can show everybody that really can perform well there and we deserve to be there."
Cantley, after half a mile, will hand off to Ash, another sophomore. Along with the 4 by 8, Ash also went to the regional in the 1600 meter run. He finished fifth, one spot short of qualifying for state. In fact, all four of Warren's 4 by 8 members qualified for the regional in individual events. Cantley competed in the high jump, Neehouse ran in the 800 and Goodman joined Ash in the 1600 and was also in the 3200.
It's a relay team that consists of four good athletes. They only qualified for state in the one event, but that could serve as an advantage as they can now put all of their focus in one event.
"When you only have one event to focus on, you can sell out there and be done," Ash said.
Finally, Ash will give the baton to Goodman for the final two laps. As a junior, Goodman is the most experienced athlete on the relay squad and is somewhat of a leader on the team.
"I do feel responsibility as the leader," Goodman said. "I feel like there is (pressure) but I've become accustomed to it."
All in all, the group is ready to compete and Riffey is confident in his runners.
"These guys are gullible enough to listen to the things that I tell them," Riffey said. "They've applied some lessons pretty well to get this far.
"The expectations are up there. Absolutely, they can get on the podium."