COLUMBUS — For one Miami Trace Panther, it was the second time competing at the State track meet.
For three others, it was their initiation to the showcase for the most talented high school track athletes in the state of Ohio.
Tyrae Pettiford, a junior who competed last year at State in the 4 x 400-meter relay, along with juniors Drake Litteral and Elijah Sauceda and sophomore Noah Wiseman, represented their school at the highest level of prep track and field athletes on a hot, sun-shiny Friday afternoon at the Jesse Owens Memorial Track at The Ohio State University.
The big news coming out of Friday’s 200-meter semifinals was Drake Litteral, placing seventh out of 16 runners to make it through to today’s finals.
Litteral ran a State prelim time of 22.39, a new career best after placing third in the Regional finals with a time of 22.71.
There are nine runners in today’s finals, vying for one of the eight spots on the State podium.
The times turned in by the State’s best Division II 200-meter dash runners ranged from 21.78 (first) to 22.60 (ninth).
Litteral, who ran in lane seven in his semifinal Friday, will be in lane eight for the finals today.
Litteral was speaking with the Record-Herald when the announcement of the finals’ line-up came over the Jesse Owens p.a. system.
“I’m excited, really excited,” Litteral said. “Sweet. That was the goal. I told you earlier that my goal was to place here and that’s what I want to do.”
“Drake ran an outstanding 200 today,” Miami Trace head coach Brent Noes said. “It was his best time of the year. Every time he runs it, he seems to get faster. Obviously, that’s what we’re training him to do.”
The 200-meter finals go today at 2:40 p.m.
“He said when he came out of the blocks, he felt good,” Noes said. “He came out of that first 100, he said he still felt really well. He was impressed with the way he was able to finish. He was seeded 11th and finished seventh. We expect him to be on the podium and he has the same goal for himself.”
The Miami Trace quartet comprised the Panthers’ 4 x 200-meter relay, the fastest such relay in the school’s history, having established the new record of 1:31.59 in the prelims at the Regional held at Athens High School.
After running a 1:31.91 in the Regional finals, the Panthers clocked in at 1:31.72 Friday, placing them 11th out of 16 teams.
The nine-fastest times advanced to today’s finals. The ninth spot was taken by River Valley at 1:30.37.
After placing fourth at the Regionals, the Panthers on Friday defeated each of the three teams, Circleville, St. Clairsville and Hillsboro, that bested them that day in Athens.
“I’m not going to blame it on the heat,” Litteral said, regarding the 4 x 200-meter relay. “The kids are fast, I’ll admit that; a lot faster than we are. But, we’ll get ‘em next year. We have three juniors on our team and one sophomore. We are going to focus on placing up here next year.”
“It’s been great with the 4 x 2 team up here,” Tyrae Pettiford said. “This was our first year and we had a great experience. We were seeded 16th coming in and we moved up five places to 11th, so, that was good for us. This was the second-fastest time in school history and we have the school record. We did a lot this year with the 4 x 2 team. I’m proud of us.”
In his first year of running track, Elijah Sauceda, with a little help from three friends, made it all the way to the State track meet in Columbus, the pinnacle of the sport in Ohio.
“It’s pretty cool,” Sauceda said. “Not a bad first year, I guess. We’re all juniors and one sophomore, so we have next year to work more and get better. Three of us weren’t even going to run track this year and I was out with an injury until a few weeks ago. So, next year, we’ll all be healthy and better prepared.”
“What a great race,” Noes said. “For all four of our competitors in that relay. All four of them ran well. We were proud of them as a staff. We’re proud of the fact that they were able to come up here and compete at this level. A lot of people are nervous up here. These guys had the ability to overcome that and still compete. We had smooth exchanges and our second-best time of the year here at the State meet.
“The thing we were most proud of is that we came in seeded 16th,” Noes said. “We had the slowest time and we moved up and finished 11th. To move up five places is a pretty amazing thing at this level. The kids have already said that their No. 1 goal at the beginning of next year is to get back up here to Columbus.”
Miami Trace sophomore Katie Seyfang competes in the shot put at State today at 9:30 a.m. She is seeded 11th, coming in with a Regional throw of 38’ 5 1/4”. Seyfang placed second at the Athens Regional last week.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1