Oakwood High School runner Grace Hartman experienced Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, where the state track and field championships have been held for many years, as a freshman in 2019. She finished second in the 1,600 and won the 3,200. Then the 2020 meet was cancelled because of the pandemic, and the 2021 championships were split between three venues for pandemic-related reasons.
On Friday and Saturday, the state championships return to Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus with all three divisions competing at the same site. Hartman hopes to close her high school career by adding to an already-impressive medal collection.
“I‘m excited,” Hartman said Thursday. “I’ve always felt like Jesse Owens and I have unfinished business. So I’m excited to be back there and be able to compete with my team for a title there. I will not lie. I enjoyed the environment last year. I’m a sucker for relaxed meet. It was a little bit more chill, but I think this is super exciting.”
Hartman and Oakwood competed in the Division II championship at Pickerington North High School last year. She won the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200. She also raced with teammates Bella Butler, Emma Almoney and Hannah Moulton on the winning 4x800 relay. Oakwood won the first state championship in the history of the girls track program.
This year, Hartman is the top seed in the 3,200 (10 minutes, 39.37 seconds) and the No. 2 seed in the 1,600 (4:46.59) behind Indian Hill senior Elizabeth Whaley (4:39.71). Both of those races take place Saturday afternoon.
Oakwood’s 4x800 relay team is seeded first (9:22.11) and will race at 1:30 p.m. Friday. The relay includes Hartman, juniors Butler and Almoney and freshman Elizabeth Erwin. Hartman, Butler, Almoney and senior Hannah Moulton won the state championship in the event last year (9:14.98).
Oakwood’s 4x400 relay team is seeded fourth (4:00.37). It includes Hartman, Almoney, Butler and senior Ellerie Nye.
Butler, who was second in the 1,600 and third in the 800 last year, is the third seed in the 3,200 (10:39.58) and the 14 seed in the 1,600. Oakwood’s other state qualifiers are: junior Bella Horne (100 hurdles and 300 hurdles); Nye (400); and senior Sadie Knostman (discus).
The goal for Oakwood is another state championship.
“It’ll be tight,” said Hartman, who will continue her career at N.C. State. “You never quite know at state meets because it’s so dependent on other teams and how their sprints do. We don’t really have any like sprinters having to get through prelims and stuff. We do have a 400 runner and a couple hurdlers. I think it’s looking pretty good, but we’ll have to perform. Fingers crossed.”
Here’s a look at the other top contenders from the Dayton, Hamilton and Middletown areas:
Beavercreek: Freshman Kayleigh Keyes is the top seed in the D-I 400 (55.12). She’s one of two freshmen among the 18 state qualifiers.
Bellbrook: Senior Isaac Lefeld tied with three other athletes for the second-best height in the state at the regional meets in the D-I pole vault (15 feet). Only Layne Studer, of GlenOak, jumped higher (15 feet, 2 inches).
Centerville: Senior Zoe Lamb and five other athletes have the top height in the D-I pole vault (12-4). Kendal Fisher, of Massillon Perry, is the only girl in the group who finished in the top five last year. She was third.
Lakota East: Senior Azariyah Bryant is seeded second in the 100 (12.01). Westerville Central sophomore Olivia Pace has the top time (11.84). Bryant finished third last year (12.05) behind two seniors.
In the 200, Bryant has the top qualifying time (24.62). She’s one of four runners who clocked times under 25 seconds at the regional meets.
Bryant will also run with a 4x100 relay team that includes junior Zyneak Warren and freshmen Ivy Smith and Lena James. It has the top time (48.24).
Miamisburg: Senior Seth Elking is seeded third in the 1,600 (4:12.32), less than three seconds behind the top seed. He will also compete on the 4x800 relay team, which is seeded fourth (7:52.06). His teammates are senior Brady Messer, junior Aaron Schweiterman and sophomore Max Liao.
Ross: Sophomore Myah Boze has the second-best time in the D-I 300 (44.44).
Troy: Senior Sophie Fong is tied for the top height cleared in the D-I pole vault (12-4) with five other athletes. Junior Leah Harnish is seeded fifth in the 400 (56.54).
Wayne: Senior Aamil Wagner is the top seed in the D-I shot put (62-6). He finished third last year (58-10½) behind two seniors.
Senior Sanai Lynch is seeded second in the D-I long jump (18-2¾). She finished 13th last year (16-10¾).
Chaminade Julienne: Senior Jadyn Haywood has the top time (12.04) in the 100. She finished third last year (12.25). No. 2 seed Kya Epps (12.09), of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, who finished second last year, is her top competitor.
Those same runners are the top seeds in the 200. Epps has the best time (24.88), and Haywood has the second-best time (25.03). Epps and Haywood finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 200 last year.
Versailles: Senior Taran Tyo has the top distance in the discus (178-10) by almost two feet. He finished fourth last year.
Anna: Junior Justin Richards has the second-best qualifying time in the 100 (10.99). That’s .03 behind Hopewell-Loudon senior Sherron Jones.
Botkins: Senior Aleah Johnson is the top seed in the discus (134-10). She finished second last year.
Coldwater: Senior Tyler Schwieterman is tied for the top time in the 300 (39.61) with Ottoville junior Kellen Schlagbaum. Schwieterman won the state championship last year (39.48).
The 4x400 girls relay team of seniors Halig Alig, Carlee Goodwin, Ava Giere and freshman Izzy Zahn is seeded third (4:00.95), and the 4x800 relay team of Alig, Goodwin, Giere and freshman Kiersten Keller is the fourth seed (9:46.20).
Dixie: Senior Dewey Hill has the third-best time (48.86) in the 400. That’s .30 seconds behind the top seed, Sherron Jones, of Hopewell-Loudon. The defending champion, Amere Talley, of Lutheran East, is seeded fifth (4.41).
Fort Loramie: The 4x400 relay team of seniors Colin Gasson, Trey Ranly, Colten Gasson and junior Frank Rethman has the second-best qualifying time (3:16.20), just over a second behind East Canton.
Gavin Kemper has the best height in the pole vault (15-9) by nine inches over the next athlete. He finished fourth last year (13-10).
The 4x800 relay team of senior Claire Rethman, sophomore Colleen Borchers and freshmen Mylee Shatto and Lauren Moore is seeded third (9:45.10).
Legacy Christian: Junior Maddy Merritt has the third-best time (57.84) in the 400.
Marion Local: The top seed in the shot put is senior Molly Winner, who threw 41-6½ at the regional meet. She finished fourth in the state last year (38-11).
Senior Sam Hoelscher is the third seed in the 300 (45.27).
Minster: The 4x800 relay team of sophomores Margaret Hemmelgarn and Chaney Cedarleaf and juniors Cameo Cedarleaf and Taylor Roth have the top qualifying time (9:39.50).
Roth has the second-best time in the 800 (2:16.13). She finished third last year (2:17.45) behind two seniors. Zane Trace sophomore Marie Souther has the best time (2:15.38).
Tri-Village: Senior Layne Sarver is the top seed in the D-III high jump (6-5). He won the high jump last year at that height.
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