COLUMBUS — The battle for the boys Division III team state title at this year’s Ohio High School Athletic Association State Track and Field Championships at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, was tight to the very end.
In the second and final day of the state track and field meet, Marion Local’s depth on the track helped pave the way for a state title for the Flyers, who ended the two-day meet with 38 points.
Columbus Grove, which was coming off a 24-point performance in Friday’s throwing events, fell shy of Marion Local. Columbus Grove finished tied for second place with Paint Valley, scoring 30 points on the weekend.
Marion Local’s Nate Buschur got the Flyers off to a strong start Friday, as he won the state title in the pole vault with a personal-best vault of 15 feet, 10 inches.
On Saturday, Buschur was part of the 400-meter relay (Brayden Pavelka, Buschur, Kyle Otte, Tate Hess) that placed third (43.50 seconds).
“I knew I was going to have to do good in the pole vault in order for our team to win,” Buschur said. “We came out, had good competition, and had a good day (Saturday). We stayed consistent throughout the whole competition and managed to get the win.”
Marion Local put the stamp on notching the Division III state title when it finished second in the 1,600-meter relay, the final track event of the state meet.
Tate Hess, Andrew Pohlman, Wesley Schoen, Owen Rindler made up the Marion Local 1,600 relay.
Columbus Grove’s 1,600 relay did not qualify for this weekend’s state meet.
For Columbus Grove, it’s the Bulldogs’ third state runner-up finish in school history.
CG won the boys state title in 2003.
“I think our kids gave all they had. … That’s the main thing,” Columbus Grove boys head coach Chris Grothaus said. “I told them to scrape every point they could in the finals. The throwers, obviously, were amazing. When you get down here, everybody thinks it’s easy to score. But it’s so difficult to score one point, much less big points.
“But, obviously, what Luke (Ellerbrock) did in the 3,200 was gutsy, because it’s his first time ever down here. I’m proud of him, our other athletes and all of our coaching staff. It’s a good moment.”
In Saturday’s 3,200, Columbus Grove junior Luke Ellerbrock battled with the lead pack in the final 800 meters and finished fourth (9:28.12).
“Seeded seventh, I just wanted to go in there and hang around fourth or fifth place,” Ellerbrock said. “And I was in that pack there with about two laps to go. The front pack fell back, and I was leading for a little bit. That kind of caught me by surprise.
“But I just worked super hard to get up to that point. So, it was hard to hold on to it. I’m really happy where I finished.”
Friday, Columbus Grove recorded huge points in the throws.
In the discus, Tadd Koch won the state title with a toss of 175-2. Teammate Lawson Maag finished second (173-1).
In Friday’s shot put, AJ Schafer placed third with a personal best and school record mark of 59-8.
Allen East notches a state title
The Allen East boys team brought down two relays to the Division III state meet – with the same four athletes on both relays.
The Mustangs brought home a state title in the 800 relay (1:29.57). In the 400 relay finals Saturday, Allen East placed sixth (43.69).
Jacob Hershberger, Jackson Friesner, Isen Schafer and Trey Hensley made up both sprint relays for the Mustangs.
In Saturday’s 100 finals, Hershberger placed fifth (10.94).
“I ran as hard as I good,” Schafer said. “I think I caught up with most of them. I think it was the best that I ran this year.”
Hershberger and Hensley have split time between baseball and track this spring.
“Trey and I didn’t have a full week of (track) practice until district week,” Hershberger said with a grin. “We would just go to baseball all week, and then show up on the weekends and run a track meet when we could.
“When baseball games got rained out, then there were a couple more (track meets) we could go to. There were like four or five meets that we didn’t go to.”
Allen East finished 13th in the final team standings in Division III.
On the girls’ side for Allen East, Rilynn Jones placed fifth in the 300 hurdles (46.09).
Schlagbaum finishes first
Last year, Ottoville’s Kellen Schlagbaum placed fifth in the 300-meter hurdles at the Division III state meet.
This weekend, Schlagbaum notched that elusive state title in the 300 hurdles as he won Saturday’s finals in 38.6 seconds.
“I got down here as a sophomore, then last year (competed at state). I kind of had disappointing races,” Schlagbaum said. “So, I knew what to expect this year. It felt good. Overall, it was a very good race.”
Besides track and field, Schlagbaum competes in two other sports as well.
“I do three sports,” he said. “So, typically my summer consists of soccer and basketball. I think soccer is one of most conditioning sports that you can do. I’m in the heat, running about 80 minutes a game. As far as track goes, I really don’t do a whole lot of hurdle work until track season comes around.”
Schlagbaum also came down to this weekend’s state meet to compete in the 110 hurdles, 800 relay and 400 relay.
Unfortunately, Schlagbaum did not advance to the finals in the 110 hurdles, and both relays did not advance as well.
Bluffton finishes strong
In Saturday’s boys Division III 800 finals, Bluffton’s Landon Armstrong finished fifth (1:55.52). Teammate Sam Derstine finished 13th (1:58.23).
Saturday’s D-III 800 was the fastest event of the weekend.
United’s Kaleb Nastari won the 800 in a state-record time of 1:48.31. At the time of his win Saturday, Nastari’s winning time was the fastest in the nation for high school.
Bluffton’s 1,600 relay (Derstine, Armstrong, Landon Shutler, Eden Antrim) placed sixth Saturday in a time of 3:26.25.
In Saturday’s 1,600, Antrim placed fifth in a school record time of 4:19.03.
Bluffton finished sixth in the final team standings in Division III.
Shawnee thrower on the podium
Shawnee sophomore Akyus Richardson placed seventh in Saturday’s Division I shot put (53-9.5).
“I’m happy to get on the podium,” Richardson said. “Throw-wise, I don’t think it was that great. It was a really slick (throwing) circle. So, it was a big adjustment. I just couldn’t find my footing today, but it’s no excuse. And I have two more years to work at it.”
Other area boys top-eight placers Saturday (not already mentioned in the story)
D-III: Columbus Grove’s Anden Blankemeyer in 400 ( eighth, 50.73), Hardin Northern’s 3,200 relay (Wesley Newton, Zeb Wilson, Riley Newton, Colby Curtis; fifth, 3:26.08), St. Henry’s 800 relay (Ryan Wehrley, Chase Litmer, Hayden Harrod, Harrison Wendel; fifth, 1:30.86) and 400 relay (Wehrley, Litmer, Harrod, Wendel; eighth, 43.98), Jackson Center’s Kellen Reichert in 1,600 and 3,200 (sixth in 1,600, 4:20.01 and seventh in 3,200, 9:34.91), Marion Local’s 400 relay (Brayden Pavelka, Nate Buschur, Kyle Otte, Tate Hess; third, 43.50) and Owen Rindler in 300 hurdles (second, 38.86), Parkway’s Trevor Stearns in 400 (fifth, 50.18).
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