Looks like someone is, or rather some individuals are, back for more.
With the understood exception of one freshman, the remaining seven qualifiers for this season’s Ohio High School Athletic Association state track and field meet are all previous state participants — in one way or another.
Which means — hopefully — all eight from the Ohio Valley Publishing area are aiming to land spots on the awards podium, as the annual OHSAA state track and field meet is set for Friday and Saturday inside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
The “OVP Eight” for 2016 are actually competing in nine total events, with Eastern junior Alia Hayes qualifying for both the Division III girls discus throw and shot put.
Hayes is one of three Eastern girls in Division III, as Eastern junior Jett Facemyer returns for the Division III boys 800m run.
In the Division II meet, Gallia Academy is represented by one boy and one girl — as both are repeating to the track events in which they competed in a year ago.
For Meigs, the Marauders will have one repeat boy and one freshman female competing in the Division II meet — as both are competing in morning field events.
All eight advanced to the state meet after placing in the top four of their respective regional meets, as the Division III regional took place at Fairfield Union — with the Division II regional taking place at Athens High School.
At Friday and Saturday’s state championships, the top eight placers in each event earn a spot on the awards podium — and automatic all-Ohio honors in the process.
Last season, Cory Scarberry finished fifth for Meigs in the boys seated shot put competition, throwing seven-feet and two-and-a-half inches — and tying Mason Metts for the highest finish in Meigs High School boys history.
This season, the senior Scarberry — who will compete on Friday at 10:30 a.m. — is among seven competitors, and has the sixth-best qualifying throw of 10-feet and four inches.
Scarberry, in fact, is the only senior qualifier from the entire OVP area, as five of the eight are juniors — with Meigs freshman Kassidy Betzing and Eastern sophomore Jessica Cook.
The only other placer from last season is Gallia Academy junior Madi Oiler, who finished sixth in the Division II girls 300m hurdles in 45.38 seconds.
Oiler, in addition, kept alive the Blue Angels’ impressive streak of scoring at least one team point at the state meet in every state meet since 1997.
Oiler was the regional runner-up in the 300m hurdles on Saturday, cl0cking a 45.46.
She will run in the preliminaries on Friday at 3:20 p.m., running in Lane 3 of the opening of two heats.
The top two placers in each heat, followed by the next five fastest times, qualify for Saturday’s finals.
Of the 16 state qualifiers, Oiler enters with the fourth-fastest time in her heat and the eighth-fastest regional time overall.
Should she advance to Saturday’s finals, she will run at 2:15 p.m.
Jasmine Harris of Pepper Pike Orange, who set the Division II girls state meet record in the 300m hurdles last year in 42.55, is in Lane 4 of the second heat.
Betzing is the Lady Marauders’ only state qualifier — after earning regional runner-up honors in the girls long jump with a leap of 17-feet, 10 and one-quarter inches.
Betzing — the lone freshman in the competition — will jump bright and early on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m., and is the second jumper in the first flight of 16 total competitors.
In fact, Betzing’s best regional jump trails just three qualifiers, including regional champion Elise Watts of Steubenville at 18-feet and one inch.
Before Betzing jumps junior Jamari McDavid of Springfield Kenton Ridge, who was only three-fourths of an inch shy of hitting 19-feet at the regional.
The next closest qualifying jump is exactly 10 inches shorter — that of sophomore Katelyn Meyer of Pemberville Eastwood.
Both Betzing and Oiler amassed district championships in their respective events, as did Gallia Academy junior Isaiah Lester, who returns to compete in the Division II boys 800m run.
Lester completed the two laps in 2015 in two minutes and two seconds, and was actually seven one-hundredths of a second shy of an even 2:03.
He will run in Lane 3 on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., and his regional third-place finish was a minute and 58 seconds.
Facemyer, in the same event in Division III, was 14th in last year’s 800m run in 2:02.54.
This year, Facemyer finished fourth in the regional in exactly two minutes.
Just before Facemyer will be Cook in the girls 800m run, as both Division III 800m finals are set for Saturday at 10:55 a.m.
Cook, who qualified in the four-lap 1,600m run a year ago, placed third in the regional 800m in two minutes and 19 seconds — after capturing the event’s district championship.
Facemyer — the 800m district runner-up — will begin from Lane 4, as Cook starts her race from Lane 6.
Cook, along with junior Laura Pullins, made up half of Eastern’s state-qualifying 4x800m relay team a year ago.
Pullins also qualified for the 400m dash last year, but returns to the high jump this season — after qualifying in that event as a freshman.
Pullins cleared the bar at five-feet and two inches two years ago, and was one of four girls to jump 5-foot-2, but didn’t place.
One of those other three, fellow junior Brooke Mangus of Ottoville, returns with Pullins — and has the highest jump of any of the 16 competitors at a hefty 5-foot-7.
Pullins — who will follow Mangus in the jumping order in fourth — cleared five-feet three inches at the regional to place third.
She is one of three junior jumpers at 5-foot-3, while three others are at 5-foot-4 — with one apiece at 5-5 and 5-6.
Pullins will jump on Friday at 4 p.m. — the exact same time that Hayes competes in the shot put for the first time.
Hayes, whose 37-foot throw landed her regional runner-up honors, is the final of eight first-flight throwers — and eighth of 16 overall.
She will first throw the discus for the second consecutive season at 1 p.m., having won the district championship but finishing fourth in the regional in 121-feet and nine inches.
Hayes hopes to improve upon her performance from last season — when she fouled on all three of her preliminary throws.
She is the third-from-final thrower in the second of two flights, and the 14th of 16 overall.
Complete coverage of OVP’s state track and field meet representatives can be found in this weekend’s OVP editions.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106
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