MHS boys 2nd at Noon Lions track meet

In just over a month’s time athletes from across the state of Ohio will descend on Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University for the state track meet, where they’ll battle to prove who’s the best of the best.

And when those athletes get there, they just might want to take a look back to the Marietta Noon Lions Invitational, because it’ll probably give them a good barometer of how far or high they’ll have to jump and throw, and how fast they’ll have to run.

After all, Tri-Valley junior Kaylee Antill’s discus throw of 140 feet, 9 inches was more than six feet better than the state champion in Division II a year ago. And John Marshall sophomore Torie Derrow’s high jump of 5-6 would’ve claimed the Div. II state title by an inch and been second in Div. I.

Tri-Valley senior Collin Prouty’s discus toss of 175-7 would’ve been good enough for second in the state last season and Jade Hawkins’ 12-0 pole vault would’ve earned second in Div. II also.

Such was the competition that greeted representatives of the 19 schools that participated in one of the largest high school track meets in the history of Marietta at Don Drumm Stadium on Saturday.

“Excellent athletes,” said Marietta girls’ track coach Mollie Schramm. “For this time of year we saw some great competition. Several (meet) records were broken today, especially on the girls’ side.”

With dominating performances in the field events, Tri-Valley claimed both the boys’ and girls’ overall team titles as John Marshall finished runner-up in girls’ standings while the host Marietta Tigers were second on the boys’ side.

“I’m really proud of these guys because it was a balanced effort,” said Marietta boys’ track coach B.J. Mayer. “I’m really proud of how they represented the school and the team.”

The Tiger boys scored in 12 of the 17 events and placed multiple athletes in four, led by freshman Aaron Elliott, who factored in 24.5 of the Tigers’ 84 overall team points as he record a first place finish in the long jump, second in the long jump, fifth in the 100 and was part of the winning 4×100 relay team.

Six and a half points behind the Tiger boys in fourth place was the Warren Warriors, who capitalized on strong performances in the distance races including a first place finish in the 4×800 relay.

“Sam (Goodman) and Brent (Ash) both had good days. The 4×8 team was first,” said Warren boys’ track coach Al Riffey.

While the Tigers and Warriors were towards the top of the team standings, other local schools competed just as hard but couldn’t quite climb the ranks against the larger schools.

For teams like the Fort Frye Cadets and Belpre Eagles the meet was complicated by the presence of the school prom Saturday night, which had some athletes not competing and others a little distracted by the big dance.

“I had some kids do some different events because of prom,” explained Fort Frye track coach Bobbi Webb. “We had them step out of their comfort zone and they did really well.”

The Fort Frye girls fared better than their male counterparts, as they finished eighth overall, just five points behind the Warren Lady Warriors. The Lady Cadets took second in the 4×800 relay while Natalie Hart placed third in the 100 hurdles and second 300 hurdles.

Like the Cadets, Belpre also had numerous athletes out of position due to prom but still fared well on the track, noted coach Chris Palmer.

“Our distance kids had a good day. They’ve had better days here lately, but for us it was kind of a mixed up day because of prom,” Palmer explained.

Belpre was seventh in boys standings, but finished 16th on the girls side.

Another small school presented its share of competitive athletes, but struggled to find the numbers to compete with Tri-Valley as the Caldwell Redskins finished 12th in both boys and girls team standings.

Lindsey Furr was second in the 3200 while Tanner Harding was fifth in the boys’ version of the same race as once again the Redskins demonstrated their skill in the distance events.

“We ran well early, and then it looked like we got a little tired towards the end,” said Caldwell track coach Dugan Hill.

Warren’s Lady Warriors finished just ahead of the Lady Cadets as they enjoyed scoring across both track and field events, with senior Raelyn Gardner claiming second in the pole vault while senior Kayla Maze was fifth in the discus after breaking 100 feet.

Of course, both those girls were staring at the state caliber performances from Tri-Valley.

“It was a very tough meet,” said Warren girls’ track coach Sally Maddox. “It’s good this time of year to have this kind of competition so we can see where we’re at.”

Outstanding competition was the theme for the day, as the schools battled to the final event.

The 19 schools competing in the meet marked the second largest high school track meet at Don Drumm since the track was installed in the mid-90s, Mayer said. The largest was the Division I district meet that featured roughly 30 teams that was held in Marietta the first year the track was in place, he said.

“Since 95, other than that meet I can’t remember a bigger meet in Marietta,” Mayer said.

Marietta College hosted the NCAA Div. III national track meet in 2009, so Don Drumm Stadium is no stranger to top flight performances on the track.

Still, Saturday proved to be a pleasant afternoon for the fans and athletes who packed the stadium for the meet, which benefited the Lions’ club’s charity efforts.

“Things went really well,” Schramm said. “The Lions Club did a great job working the meet.”