COLUMBUS — Despite battling his nerves, Eaton senior Chase Smith made the most of his first opportunity of competing at the state track and field championships.
Smith, the school-record holder in the discus, finished fifth in the OHSAA Division II state track and field meet in the discus throw with a toss of 153 feet, 5 inches on Saturday, June 2, at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Eric Fertig of Eastwood won the meet with a throw of 161-1.
It’s been nearly three decades since an Eaton discus thrower had placed among the top five at the state meet.
“It’s been fun. But I felt like I could have done better. I’m happy that I made it on the podium, but I didn’t throw very good. It kind of brings it down a little bit,” Smith, who broke a 14-year old school record at the regional the previous week, said. “I think nerves got to me. It was a new experience. I’ve never been to state.”
Smith’s best throw was his first of the day. He held the lead through the first two rounds of the preliminaries. He fell to second on the final throw of the prelims and eventually to fifth when three throwers surpassed him on their final attempts.
Eaton throwing coach Scott Burnett said nerves may have gotten the best of Smith, but he still accomplished a lot.
“When you get to the state meet it’s exciting, but it’s the nerves that you’ve got to try and overcome,” Burnett said. “The physical part, he was ready. It’s the nervousness of knowing that you’re at the state meet and everybody’s good.”
Burnett, who has coached for nearly 30 years, was excited for Smith.
“I’m excited for fifth place. I’m excited he got on the podium and got a medal,” Burnett said. “At the start of the year we were hoping to maybe have a chance to get here. I told him half the people leaving here leave with nothing and half of them leave with a medal. He’s fifth in the state and nobody can ever take that away from him. He’s going home a record holder. Those are big accomplishments.”
For Burnett, Smith is the highest placing discus thrower he has coached. The last boy to place in the discus was in 2000.
Burnett also noted Eaton athletes have had success on the state level all year.
“He’s one of three kids this year from Eaton High School with a state medal,” Burnett said. Sarah Willis was the Division II golf champion and Wade Monebrake was state runner-up in wrestling.
“That’s pretty good,” Burnett said.
Smith said Burnett has meant a lot to him.
“He’s family. I love him,” Smith said.
As for the ending?
“I’m glad I ended it this way. It’s been fun. I’m glad I got fifth,” Smith said. “I’m glad I got on the podium.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH