COLUMBUS Zach Gregg was a vault away from being a state champion.
The Seneca East senior, who nearly took home the Division III pole vault championship a year ago, nearly did so again.
PHOTO BY KYLE HUNTER
Seneca East’s Zach Gregg clears 15-feet in the pole vault during the first day of the state track and field championships Friday in Columbus.
Carey's Jacob Goble
Seneca East's Kaylyn Goshe
Old Fort's Adam Alexander
Instead, Gregg was runner-up in the pole vault for the second-straight year.
This time, the Tiger cleared 15 feet, as did the eventual champion, St. Henry's Kevin Mestemaker. Mestemaker got the top spot because he cleared the height on his first try, Gregg on his second. Both then each missed all three attempts at 15-4, though Gregg came very close on his first two tries.
"I definitely thought I had it for a little bit, I really wish I did," Gregg said.
Gregg called the title coming down to misses "nerve-racking."
"When you know it comes down to misses, I don't know, you get really worried, get really nervous," he said.
SE assistant coach Gary England said he and Gregg were so focused on their vaults that they weren't aware of what the misses situation was.
"I wasn't sure where we were at, really, I was just concentrating on what we needed to do," England said.
"We were trying to get on 15s, we'd only been on 15-footers (poles) for a week, that's a pretty big transition," he said. "We came in here trying to go for a PR. Might have bit us in the butt a little bit, might have been better on the 14-7s I don't know. It was a good day, just control of the 15-footers was a challenge."
Regardless, Gregg was able to keep clearing heights, once clearing the bar on a third try.
"He's very resilient, he keeps it together and he's a competitor," England said.
He also had some area company Friday.
Old Fort's Adam Alexander made a big jump in the pole vault standings from last year.
His first trip to state last year ended quickly when he failed to clear a height.
This year, the junior matched his PR of 14-4 to finish fourth.
"To be able to do that back-to-back weekends is really a great accomplishment," coach Tony Miller said.
"If he did what I knew he could do, I figured he'd be on the podium," he said. "His confidence is tremendous right now, and he believes in himself, and that's all that counts. It don't matter if everybody else believes in him or not, he believes in himself."
As with deciding who won the pole vault crown, figuring out who ended third and fourth came down to criteria after Alexander and Bluffton's Clay Wilson both cleared the same height.
Such familiarity is nothing new for Alexander. In fact, he said he thrives on it.
"Honestly, it's like a blessing. I get to come to these competitions where you know it's going to be stressful and you know what you have to do to make it out, and I get to hang with my buddies and make it even more fun," Alexander said.
"There's nothing I can imagine that's better than this. All my vault friends are here. It's just like hanging out in a club," he said. "We get to come here, vault our best and do what we do. It's a blast, I love it."
Two area throwers found their way to podium. For Carey shot putter Jacob Goble, he wasn't even sure he would get a chance at finals. After the preliminaries, eight names were read off.
Goble's was not one of them.
It was an oversight.
Goble had the ninth-best throw out of the prelims, and advanced.
"I wasn't too worried; I just told myself, 'I came to state. Whatever happens, happens," Goble said.
"I might as well get on the podium," he said.
And that's exactly what he did. He bettered his prelim throw in the finals, and placed seventh with a toss of 52-2.
"Not very many athletes can say they went out on a PR," he said.
Meanwhile, in the girls discus, Seneca East senior Kaylyn Goshe made the most of her first trip to state. She came in hoping to finish in the top eight, and she did, throwing 131-6 for eighth place.
"It's been my goal for four years to make podium," Goshe said. "I'm glad I was here today after coming off a knee injury the week of MALs last year."
And yet, the SE senior said she wasn't too anxious.
"I wasn't really nervous, because I knew today would be my last day no matter what."
Other area athletes missed out on possible trips to the podium.
Hopewell-Loudon's 4x200 boys team of Elancio Velasquez, Patric Gase, Noah Breidenbach and Eli Tooker finished sixth in its heat (1:32:58) and did not advance to the finals.
Lakota's Kevin Crowe wound up 13th in the boys Division III shot with a toss of 48-7.
Seneca East's Jason Willman and Jared Stockmaster will run in today's 3,200 at 11:25 a.m. The distance event had no prelims; it is a finals-only race.
In the girls Division III meet, St. Wendelin junior Sara Goddard tied the school record she set at last week's regional by clearing 10-4, but did not reach the podium.
She finished ninth, sandwiched between two others who also cleared 10-4. The placings were determined by criteria.
Old Fort senior Molly Cleveland ended in a three-way tie for 12th in the high jump after topping out at 5-0.