COLUMBUS — Winning a state track-and-field championship can seem simple on paper.
However, it becomes a lot more complex when you add in the human factor.
The Lima Central Catholic boys track team came into this weekend’s state meet at Ohio State looking to be one of the teams that would vie for the Division III team title.
But, the LCC coaching staff realized winning a state title wouldn’t be easy. They knew the competition would be fierce.
Columbus Academy looked to be one of those teams LCC would have to get through in order to achieve its ultimate goal.
Columbus Academy had seven athletes compete in seven events at the state meet. The Thunderbirds had four athletes, competing in six events.
The Columbus Academy squad scored just enough in each of its events to slip out with the Division III title, defeating LCC 49-43. Warren JFK was a close third (41).
LCC knew its sprint relays would be its strength at the state meet.
On Saturday, LCC won both the 400-meter relay and 800-meter relay, making the race for the team title an interesting one. Both relays were comprised of freshman Nick Taflinger and juniors Darius West, Jamir Coleman and Mykale Rogers.
On Saturday, the Thunderbirds broke the Division III state-meet record in the 800 relay, winning in 1:28.04. In the 400 relay, LCC broke the school record, winning in 42.71. Also on Saturday, West finished fourth in the 100 dash (11.10), a day after he barely made the finals when he finished ninth in the preliminaries.
On Friday, Rogers defended his state title in the long jump, outdueling his teammate Coleman in the finals. Rogers won with a mark of 22 feet, 6 ¾ inches, while Coleman finished second with a jump of 22-5.
However, one situation that made the path to a possible state title even more challenging for the Thunderbirds was when both Rogers and West were scratched from the 200 preliminaries on Friday. Both athletes had nagging injuries that made LCC coach Nathan Garlock fearful of what could happen to his team’s chances in the relays, if either one of them could not compete Saturday.
“I knew it was going to come down to a couple of points,” Garlock said. “I knew it was going to come down to a couple of races and it played out exactly how we thought it would. But, unfortunately it didn’t have us at the top.
“It’s like I’ve been saying all year. We’ve been injured. We’ve been trying to limp them through. We’ve been trying to get them through each week. They’ve done a good job of stepping up and fighting through a lot of injuries. Unfortunately, it caught up with us at a bad time. But at the end of the day, we knew our strength was in the relays and we didn’t want to take a risk and cost ourselves of doing something special in the relays. …And we did something special in the relays.”
Rogers felt withdrawing from the 200 gave his team a better chance of achieving its goals Saturday.
“It’s kind of tough, knowing the points in the 200 could have helped my team win it (team state title),” Rogers said. “But, I had to save myself for the relays because chances are, we wouldn’t be in this position (if Rogers ran the 200). So, I’m really proud of my team. It was a pretty successful year and we have to go work at it again in the offseason.
“It would have been real selfish of me to try to win that (200), get hurt and ruin their chances of winning state titles (in the relays). It was about them and not about me.”
The state runner-up trophy for LCC is the first state trophy for the Thunderbirds in school history for track and field.
“It speaks tons to where these guys have helped build the program from where it was a couple years ago to now; we’re at the state meet, talking about being runner-up.
“I’ve got three juniors and a freshman (on the relays) and I have a lot more sitting back in Lima. And we’re going to be down here next year — I’m confident of it. We’re coming down here looking for this title next year.”