Note: This sports column appears in the Wednesday, June 19 newspaper on Page B1.
Last week I dove into the area softball and baseball by giving my two cents about how I felt the 2020 spring could be one to remember.
However, it’s not just on the diamond where athletes will find success during the spring season. The track and field scene also has a lot of potential with so many returning runners and athletes.
Although no one was able to break through this season and punch their ticket to state, that will probably change in 2020.
Vinton County’s Elijah Williams was one of just four boys to represent the area at regionals, and the Viking standout represented well in his three events.
He took eighth place in the 100 meters (11.69) and 200 meters (23.48) before claiming seventh place in the long jump (20-feet-7.25).
Williams, who is entering his junior year, undoubtedly has his sights set on getting to the state meet. He has the task of putting Vinton County’s name on the map on the biggest stage, but it’s nothing he can’t handle.
The other three male regional qualifiers came from Jackson and the Ironmen have two of them returning to the fold.
Kaeden Fulton, also going to be a junior, cracked the top eight with a seventh place finish in the 200 meters (23.21) and took ninth in the 100 meters (11.52).
Mitchell Johnson, who is entering his senior year, finished 14th in the 110-meter hurdles (16.86). Both guys are the top two to look at for Jackson to be represented at the top level next year.
After those three who are returning for at least one more year, it’s up in the air as to who will make a name for themselves on the track.
On the girls’ side of things, the list of returning regional athletes is much deeper.
Three of the four members of Jackson’s 4x200 meter relay team (1:50.74) and 4x400 meter relay team (4:14.39) are back in Emily Mapes, Madison Strawser and Olivia Kennedy. Although the Ironladies will have to replace Emma Stroth, having 75 percent of the relay team back gives Jackson its best chance to make it to the top.
Additionally, Kennedy also competed and placed sixth in the 400 meters (59.69) at regionals. Now entering her sophomore year, Kennedy perhaps has the area’s best chance at a podium finish next year.
Also, Mazie Wechter returns for one more chance to make state in the 1600 meters after a seventh place finish (5:29.61).
Much like Jackson’s relay teams, Vinton County’s 4x800 meter relay’s (10:17.12) eighth place team has three returning members in Olivia Mayers, Rylee Fee and Emily Reynolds. Replacing Lilly Chevalier won’t be easy, but the team has a chance to crack the top four.
Fee has one more shot in the 3200 meters , which she placed eighth with a time of 12:12.39.
Mayers also returns to a 4x100 meter relay team with Maylea Huff, Tristen Kirby and Cassandra Mayers that placed 14th (53.72).
Kirby returns in two more events where she made it to regionals, finishing 12th in the 300-meter hurdles (49.88) and 14th in the 100-meter hurdles (17.74).
Kirby is joined by Huff in the 100-meter hurdles, who took 13th with a time of 17.50.
With all of this returning talent having a year of experience under their belts and the taste of what it’s like competing at the regional level, it’s not impossible to think most of them will make it to state.
Matter of fact, I’m betting most of them will see Ohio State next year.