DAYTON & LEXINGTON — The Eaton Eagles’ track and field team continued its season at the Division II Dayton regional tournament last week. Only two of the five participants competing in the finals advance to the state tournament in Columbus next weekend: Seth Gard and Madison Bowman.
“I was very pleased with the attitude and efforts of our five regional qualifiers this past week at Dayton (girls) and at Lexington (boys),” said coach Randy McKinney. “Two of the five managed to qualify through to the OHSAA State Championships next weekend in Columbus, and three earned a spot on the awards stand.”
Gard placed fourth in the men’s 3,200 meter run in a time of 9:53. This was Gard’s first track and field regional appearance and will be his first trip to the state championships.
“Seth ran an outstanding race in 87-degree plus weather, adding to the difficulty,” McKinney said. “He responded every time he needed to the change of the pace of the top five competitors during the course of the race. Going into the sixth lap he and the top four created separation from the fifth place runner. In the seventh lap, Seth moved into third place and ended up just getting passed a little before the finish line. Seth is sitting with one of the top eight times going into the championships this week.”
Bowman placed fourth in the discus with a throw of 115’ 8” to qualify for state. She also qualified earlier for the regional championships in the shot put.
Bowman placed 12th overall with a throw of 33’ 1.5” in that event. This was Bowman’s third consecutive year of qualifying to the regional championships — the other events were discus in 2014 and the shot put in 2015. She will finish up her career at the state championships as the school record holder in the hammer throw. She did however, fail to place in the shot put competition.
Sophomore distance runner Sasha Taxter advanced to the regional final in the girls’ 800-meter run. The fifth place SWBL winner started off the race in the middle of the pack but quickly fell behind before the end of the first lap. Though she finished fourth in the district final, she didn’t finish well enough to make the trip to Columbus.
Others placed in the district finals. Drew Campbell placed fourth in the high jump, while standout distance runner Gard was second in the 3,200-meter run. Senior Seth Wright cleared 12-06 in the pole vault competition for third place, and fellow senior Darius Spears earned fourth in the shot put. These four competed in the regional preliminaries but failed to advance further in the field.
Campbell cleared 6’ in the high jump, placing him 13th overall. He finishes his career with a personal best of 6’ 2” in the high jump. Campbell finishes his high school career as a two-time regional qualifier and will continue his track and field career next year at Wittenburg University.
Taxter placed 14th in the womens’ 800-meter run in a time of 2:35.
“It was not her fastest time of the season, but a great effort,” commented McKinney. “Sasha advanced to the regional 800-meter for the second consecutive year and is only a sophomore. Sasha had a great season and will continue to improve over the next two years.”
“I am very excited for Madi and Seth as they prepare this week for the state championships. Madi will perform on Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. while Seth will not compete until Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. To end the track and field season with an athlete, especially two, qualifying to the state championships is very gratifying as a coach,” McKinney said.
“These athletes spend many hours preparing for the opportunity and when they manage to qualify it is quite exciting. I am very proud of those athletes that advanced and competed in the regional championships. I was very happy for those who placed and got the opportunity to stand on the regional awards stand. Either way, just qualifying to the regional meet is a great honor for the athletes, their families, the coaching staff, the track and field program and the Eaton Community.”
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH.