COLUMBUS, Ohio — The OHSAA track and field championships are returning to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium after a 1-year hiatus due to COVID separating the three divisions into different meets at different locations last spring.
In a somewhat similar fashion, a majority of Ohio Valley Publishing area schools are returning to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium this week after rather lengthy lulls within their respective programs.
The Gallia Academy girls and Eastern girls had competitors at last year’s state meets, but the Gallia Academy boys, River Valley girls and Southern girls enter some otherwise unfamiliar territory this weekend as all five of those programs will be present at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium for the Division II and Division III meets being held Friday and Saturday on the campus of the Ohio State University.
Nine area athletes will compete in a total of 11 events between the four schools participating this weekend, with the Lady Eagles and Lady Tornadoes partaking in the Division III meet. Both GAHS squads, as well as the Lady Raiders, will be in the Division II competition.
Neither Meigs nor South Gallia will be represented at the OHSAA track and field championships this weekend. Neither program has been at the state meet since 2019, when they were respectively represented by Kassidy Betzing and Kyle Northup.
Gallia Academy will be leading the charge this Friday and Saturday as the Blue Devils have four competitors in four events, while the Blue Angels have a pair of finalists going in two separate events.
Both Southern and Eastern have single state entrant in the D-3 girls meet, and each will be competing in different field event finals.
Only three of the nine state qualifiers have participated in a state event prior to this weekend, and only one person from that trio has ever competed at Jesse Owens Stadium.
The Blue Devils last appeared at the D-2 state meet back in 2018 when John Stout competed in the 200m dash, the last of five straight postseasons with an athlete at the state tournament.
The GAHS boys also haven’t scored at the state level since Logan Allison won the long jump and Jacob Click placed fourth in the 300-meter hurdles back in 2014.
This time, however, the Blue Devils are believed to be making history as senior Daunevyn Woodson becomes the first GAHS boy to qualify in four different events at the same state meet. Dating back to 1999, only Felicia Close (2003-06) and Alexis Geiger (2006-09) have accomplished such a feat once in Gallia Academy history.
Woodson enters the 100m dash (11.10) with the 12th fastest time of 11.10 seconds, although four of those faster qualifiers were three-tenths of a second or less ahead of Woodson in the 18-entrant field.
Woodson is in the 200m dash (22.07) and owns the seventh fastest time headed into Friday’s semifinal heat. Woodson will also partake in the long jump (21-2.25) final on Friday morning and comes in tied for the 11th best distance in the field.
Woodson will join junior Mason Skidmore, sophomore Hunter Shamblin and freshman Braydn Simmons in the 4x100m relay (43.84) semifinal as well. The quartet set a new district record of 43.76 seconds in qualifying at Meigs High School, but they enter this weekend with the next-to-last qualifying time out of 18 teams.
Woodson, Skidmore, Shamblin and Simmons area all making their first career appearances at the state track and field championships this week.
The Blue Angels will be at the D-2 state meet for a third straight postseason as juniors Callie Wilson and Chanee Cremeens are both returning in events that they competed at a year ago at Pickerington High School North.
Wilson enters her second straight pole vault (11-8) final tied with three other people for the third-best regional clearance height out of 18 competitors. Wilson tied for 14th last year with a height of 10 feet even.
Cremeens enters her second consecutive discus final on Friday morning with the shortest qualifying throw from regionals at 110 feet even. Cremeens was 14th last spring at PHSN with a distance of 109 feet, 6 inches.
GAHS hasn’t scored a point in the D-2 girls competition since Madi Oiler was sixth in the 300m hurdles back in 2015.
River Valley senior Lauren Twyman will also be making a repeat trip to the D-2 state meet, albeit with a 2-year gap in between appearances.
Twyman has the 12th fastest time in the 800m (2:18.99) final slated for Saturday. Twyman also competed in the 800m run at Jesse Owens Stadium as a freshman back in 2019, placing 18th overall with a time of 2:30.97.
Twyman is the last River Valley athlete to appear at the state meet, and RVHS hasn’t scored a single point since Jessica Hager placed eighth in the 300m hurdles back in 2011.
In Division III, the Lady Eagles will have at least one athlete competing at the state level for an 11th consecutive postseason as sophomore Emma Hayes has the shortest qualifying throw in the discus (111-9) final on Friday.
Eastern last scored at the 2017 meet when Laura Pullins placed fifth in the high jump.
Southern senior Kayla Evans completes the OVP area representation this weekend as she becomes the first Lady Tornado since the turn of the millennium to compete at the state track and field meet.
Evans will take part in the high jump (5-2) final on Friday and enters in a 7-way tie with the 9th-best qualifying height from regionals.
No Southern athlete has appeared at state since Jaylen Blanks competed in the 200m dash back in 2015.
The 2022 OHSAA track and field championships will begin at 9:30 a.m. both Friday and Saturday in Division II and Division III.
Due to early deadline times on Friday, full details of the weekend’s results will appear in the Tuesday sports editions of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.