Numerous area athletes advance to state meet

Personal-bests and teammates weren’t enough to get area athletes to the Division III regional podium’s top step Friday, but they were plenty when it came to making it to state.

Lakota and Carey will each send a boys shot putter to the year’s final meet while St. Wendelin saw its first girls pole vault state qualifier in school history advance after all three turned in PR’s en route to runner-up finishes.

Meanwhile, Seneca East’s Jason Willman (9:46.58) and Jared Stockmaster (9:51.43) ran 2-3 in the 3,200 and Hopewell-Loudon’s 4×200 boys team finished fourth (1:32.14) to earn berths at next week’s state meet at Jesse Owens Stadium at Ohio State University.

Willman’s the veteran of all those qualifiers, reaching state for the third year in a row, but the senior said he definitely owes this year’s trip to his sophomore teammate.

Willman was diagnosed with mononucleosis a few weeks ago and battled his way through the ensuing meets and practices with the help of Stockmaster. That included the younger Tiger beating the older one a few times, helping build up a little friendly rivalry.

“Jared’s a great runner, he’s built to run, but I know that I need to be right where he is,” Willman said. “He’s really helped me the last couple weeks when I haven’t been feeling so well, showing me that I needed to step up and that my spot’s not guaranteed. It’s good for me.”

It was a job Stockmaster said he was happy to do, especially since it led to the two of them reaching state in the same individual race.

“It feels nice to know that I’m helping bring back Jason from what he’s all been through this past year, and it feels nice to know I belong,” he said.

“It feels nice to have someone to be there with, to keep you going, to have someone to stay up with [in the race] that I know and someone to really push me to my fullness,” Stockmaster said.

Lakota’s Kevin Crowe, Carey’s Jacob Goble and St. Wendelin’s Sara Goddard also found out what it’s like to get pushed like that Friday.

Crowe claimed second in the boys shot with a heave of 51-5, a personal best by two feet.

The distance was overshadowed by Liberty Center’s Nick Demaline winning with a Division III state-record toss of 68-10 1/2, but Crowe said he focused more on himself than Demaline.

“We knew that he was going to get first because he’s a total monster, but I knew it was going to be tough to get the next three places under that to qualify for state,” Crowe said.

“I just discounted him like he wasn’t even there; he was just a given [as a state qualifier],” he said. “Just focused on myself.”