By ANDREW WILLIAMS
Qualifying for the state track and field meet and having the opportunity to compete is an exciting experience for the hundreds of high school athletes who get to do it each year.
With the biggest stage, though, comes the brightest lights and quite a bit of pressure for athletes who aren’t used to competing at the highest level of their sport.
In his first state appearance last year, Patrick Henry’s Marcus Myers was less than pleased with his performance in the Division III boys discus. Friday, when the 2014 state track and field meet gets underway at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Myers has higher expectations and more confidence in himself than he did at this time a year ago.
“It feels great going back down to state,” Myers said after winning the discus at the Division III regional at Tiffin. “I want to actually show up this year.”
The senior struggled to a 15th-place finish in 2013 after recording a toss of 132-3 in the preliminaries and fouling on his other two attempts.
He acknowledged how disappointed he felt after his performance last season and admitted that the experience was a bit nerve-wracking the first time around. This time, he feels less pressure and said he is throwing for himself at this point in his career.
“It’s my last year,” he said. “I think the nerves will be less. I’ve been down there once this year so I think it’s going to be a little better showing of me and my competition down there.”
Myers, who will continue his throwing career at NCAA Division II Walsh University next year, was one of four underclassmen who advanced to the state meet in the discus last year and all three of his competitors have made it back this season as well.
Despite finishing behind all of the other returners in 2013, Myers enters competition Friday with the second-highest seed mark. His 170-foot regional-winning toss comes in behind only the 178-9 throw of McDonald’s Christian Smith.
Winning the regional title has given Myers confidence as he begins his quest for redemption Friday. After finishing second at the regional meet last year, he knows that has no bearing on how he will perform in Columbus.
He thinks the progress he has made throughout the season is he believes this time around will go differently.
“That’s probably my second farthest this year,” Myers said of his final regional toss. “Finally this year, I’ve been peaking later on in the year rather than in previous years peaking in the middle of the year and then sort of just dropping out at the end of the year. So it feels really good to start finally peaking at the end of the year which is what you want.”
Myers’ teammate Zach Nye will also be making a return trip to state after placing fourth in the 110 hurdles last year. In addition to the hurdles, Nye will also team with Jacob Ehlers, Mitchell Bonner and Donny Johnson in the 400 relay at this season’s event. The quartet holds the Patriots’ school record in the event.
Bluffton’s Noah Stratton, who finished seventh in the state in the 400 in 2013, will be running the 400, 800 relay and 1,600 relay this year. Teammate Isaac Little is scheduled to compete in the 200, 400 relay and 800 relay for the Pirates.
Liberty-Benton’s Chase Cook placed in four events at state a year ago, including a third-place showing in the long jump, which he will compete in again this season. Teammate B.J. Lawson, who was the district and regional champion in the long jump, will join Cook in Columbus.
The Eagles’ Zach Garver will be in the high jump and will combine with Wanja Boehme, Jacob Lyberg and Bob Snook in the 1,600 relay. Dylan Cornwell is a return competitor in the pole vault for L-B.
Columbus Grove’s Bryce Sharrits and Riverdale’s Chad Pever will each be running the 800 and as members of their respective 3,200 relay teams.
Ada’s Matthew Wilcox is a returning state-qualifier in the 400 and will be competing in the 200 and 400 events.
Leipsic’s Terrill Muriel (110 hurdles), Van Buren’s Ted Simmons (800), Carey’s Jacob Goble (shot put), Bluffton’s Clay Wilson (pole vault) and Hopewell-Loudon’s 800 relay team of Elancio Velasquez, Patric Gase, Noah Breidenbach and Eli Tooker will also be in action.
In the Division II meet, Ottawa-Glandorf’s Matias Trampe-Kindt will run the 1,600 and take part in the 3,200 relay with Brad Recker, Sid Moening and Trevor Ellerbrock.
Colin Laubenthal will compete in the pole vault for the Titans as well.