CHILLICOTHE — Sterling Smith, a recent graduate of Washington High School, has qualified to the State Division II track meet in the shot put.
On Saturday, May 29, Smith placed fourth in the event at the Regional meet held at Southeastern High School near Chillicothe.
His best throw of the meet was 51’ 2”.
Smith will compete in the Division II State meet at Pickerington North High School Friday at 10 a.m.
Lane Graham of West Holmes won the Regional shot put title with a throw of 61’ 2 1/4”.
Ethyn McClelland of Maysville was second at 54’ 5 1/2” and J.J. Durr of Ridgewood placed third at 53’ 6 1/4”.
Hillsboro’s Zach Burns placed 10th at 47’ 7 1/2”.
At Southeastern on Thursday, Smith placed sixth in the discus throw at 146’ 6”.
Colt Sechrest of Bellaire won the discus throw at 182’ 7”.
Also for Washington Saturday, junior Chloe Lovett placed fifth in the finals of the 300-meter hurdles in 48.56.
Lovett finished eighth in the 100-meter hurdles finals in 16.70.
Odessa Smith of Morgan won the 100-meter hurdles in 15.26.
Madison Beadling of Steubenville won the 300-meter hurdles at the Regional in 46.42.
The conditions at the meet Thursday were sunny and hot.
On Saturday, the skies were cloudy and the temperatures were in the upper 50’s to low 60’s with an almost continuous wind.
On Thursday, Washington’s 4 x 400-meter relay team of Cloe Copas, Isabella Racine, Lovett and Kierstyn Mitchell, placed 11th in 4:23.24, a new season-best time for the recently-assembled relay.
Also on Thursday, Washington’s Jacob Stone tied for sixth place in the pole vault at 12’ 6”.
Washington head coach Tim Walters was asked about Smith and Stone, the two Blue Lions representing at the Regional meet.
“(Sterling) was sluggish, to say the least,” Walters said. “I don’t think he had enough sleep. But, he came through when he needed to.
“He came across on that second throw in the finals with a pretty respectable throw,” Walters said. “That’s the way Sterling is; he usually throws as good as it takes to move on.
“He knew what he had to throw to beat that kid that had unseated him on the throw before,” Walters said. “That was a big relief. He was certainly happy that he had a big throw.”
As the competition went on, Smith was in fourth place (the final spot to qualify to State). However, he was passed with a better throw and fell for a time to fifth place.
He was able to return the favor and pass that competitor back to finish in fourth place and earn the last State-qualifying spot from the Southeastern Regional.
“Sterling had two personal records in the discus,” Walters said. “Those were big throws for Sterling. In the last two weeks, Sterling has really caught on how to throw the discus. He had been doing a technique where you leave the ground before you are grounded.
“You have to ground your body,” Walters said. “It’s like shooting a shotgun in a canoe, it’s going to tip. You have to ground yourself. Sterling was leaving the ground while the discus was still in hand.
“He finally figured it out,” Walters said. “We compared it to a baseball pitcher. We asked him and he said, ‘yeah, I was a pitcher.’ Did you ever leave the ground before the ball? Did you jump in the air to throw the ball? No, you grounded the left foot. Something clicked with him.”
Walters spoke a bit about Jacob Stone.
“He finished sixth, which is very respectable,” Walters said. “He just about cleared 13. One more bar and he would have made it to State. He was right there on the bubble. Not being able to vault last year and then coming in and placing sixth at the Regionals is very respectable.
“He’s going to work hard this summer,” Walters said. “His approach run was very short. For whatever reason, he didn’t feel comfortable in moving his run back to take seven steps. He was competing at five steps, which is almost unheard of in pole vault.
“He’ll come back next year really strong,” Walters said.
“I felt pretty good out there, especially when I threw that 51,” Smith said. “That felt way better. The weather (wasn’t the best). It would be better if it was warmer.
“I had to compete for that fourth-place spot,” Smith said.
“Our 4 x 4, we put together at the league meet,” Washington girls head coach Louis Reid said. “We’ve been impressed with them. They ended up being our best relay.
“We thought we could make it to Regionals,” Reid said. “Then, we thought we had an outside chance of qualifying to State.
“From the league meet to the Regional, they dropped a total of 20 seconds,” Reid said. “They finished 11th and just missed qualifying to the finals. They dropped two more seconds at the Regional (from 4:25.04 to 4:23.24).
“I feel if they had gotten to run together a little earlier, had we come across that combination, I feel like they could have done even better,” Reid said. “They needed another week. I was really proud of them. The PR’d at the Regional. They PR’d every week they ran.
“It was great to see them place third in their heat in the Regional,” Reid said. “Three of those legs are back: Izzy Racine, Chloe Lovett and Kierstyn Mitchell. Izzy and Chloe are juniors and Kierstyn is a freshman. For Izzy, this was her first year of track since middle school. Kierstyn did not run the 400 until the end of the year. She was a 100 and 200-meter specialist. I was really proud of them. They were very mentally tough.
“Cloe Copas will move on and run at Morehead State,” Reid said. “We were sad that was her last race. We were hoping to get her one more in the Regional final. We were glad to see her make it to the Regional, because she didn’t make it in the mile or the 800.
“She turned into a really good sprinter at the District and even at the league meet,” Reid said. “She ran under one minute in the 4 x 4 at the Regional. She was the lead-off leg.
“She made the finals in the league in the 400,” Reid said. “She had the second-fastest time. She focused more on the mile (1600-meters) at the league meet. We found out she’s a heck of a 400 runner. She’s going to talk to her college coach about it. I think she can run pretty quick.
“She was a great leader on that 4 x 4,” Reid said. “The girls wanted to help her get to the Regional final. We’re going to miss her leadership and her work ethic. Every year she competed for us, she was a Regional qualifier.
“The last time Chloe Lovett ran, as a freshman, she didn’t make it to Regionals in either hurdle event,” Reid said. “Here we are, fast forward, she was a Regional finalist in the 100 hurdles, where she finished eighth. Then she was fifth in the 300 hurdles.
“That was the race we thought she had a chance to make it to State in,” Reid said. “If she hadn’t clipped the hurdle on the curve, she would have made it.
“She was eighth on the curve and she passed three people to finish fifth,” Reid said. “She’s a fighter. She almost got an at-large bid to make it to State.
“She’s had a fantastic year,” Reid said. “Coach (Chip) Wilt has done a lot of work with Chloe and the credit goes to him, the work that he’s put in with all of our hurdlers. He’s really helped develop her into a really good hurdler. I want to give him credit.
“She was running at 50 seconds as a freshman and this year she was running 46 seconds,” Reid said. “In the 100’s, she was running 17 or maybe 18 seconds. This year, she ran 16.2. Coach Wilt has done a tremendous job.
“She was a great leader as a junior,” Reid said. “We’re looking forward to her senior leadership.”
McClain High School freshman Lily Barnes placed third at the Regional in the discus throw with a distance of 119’ 0” to qualify to the State tournament. She will compete at Pickerington North High School Friday at 10 a.m.