Bobcats' Smith states his case
By the time Josh Smith reached the Division III state track and field meet this spring, he no longer was in awe of competing on the big stage.
Then a sophomore at Grandview Heights High School, Smith was comfortable with his surroundings June 1 and 2 at Ohio State because he had competed in the Division III state cross country meet in the fall and the Division II state swimming and diving meet in the winter.
"Actually, when I went to state in cross country, I had never been to state before and I was really scared," Smith said. "Once I got that experience under my belt, I wasn't that scared for state swimming and once I got back to the state meet in track, I wasn't scared at all."
Patti Hoch coaches swimming and Brian Schoch coaches the track and cross country programs for the Bobcats. Both are joined by athletics director Jim Hall and former athletics director Kathy Kinnard in the belief that Smith might be the first Grandview athlete to qualify for three state competitions during one school year.
"I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone to put something like that together," Hoch said. "You might have to go way back to find anyone to do that."
In his first season competing in cross country, Smith finished 107th (17 minutes, 59.18 seconds) at state at National Trail Raceway as the Bobcats placed 14th (295) of 16 teams, behind champion McDonald (74).
"I didn't run cross country as a freshman and coach Schoch thought that I would do well in it," Smith said. "That was my first-ever experience at state, which is kind of crazy to think about."
In swimming, Grandview had its first state competitors in 12 seasons and first in the Division II meet that began in the 2008-09 season. Smith competed in the 200-yard freestyle relay and 400 free relay at Branin Natatorium in Canton, as the Bobcats did not score and Hunting Valley University School (237) won the title.
The 200 free relay of Evan Tillett, Jacob Smith, Tucker Rinehart and Josh Smith finished 19th (1:31.64) and the 400 free relay of Tillett, Sean Oberschlake, Josh Smith and Rinehart finished 17th (program-record 3:22.4).
"Josh is just an amazing athlete and one thing about all three of these sports is that they are all about racing," Hoch said. "Josh has this attitude or a certain confidence when he is racing. Even when he's going up against someone who is probably more technically sound than he is, Josh hates to lose and can call up on something a little extra to do even better."
At state track, Smith was a member of the 13th-place 3,200-meter relay (8:21.4) with Ben Mathes, Luke Evans and Brendan Cox. He also finished 13th in the 1,600 (4:37.43) as the Bobcats didn't score and Columbus Academy (64) won the title.
"It was fun to watch Josh this year and I was able to see his progress from the beginning of the (school) year (in cross country) to the end of the year (in track)," Schoch said. "I saw him go from being a competitor to someone who became more strategic about how he approaches races and how he has worked with the pacing side of things."
Smith said the biggest obstacle was making the state swimming meet.
"I honestly never thought about it until I made it in swimming," he said. "It had been so long since we had been (to state), so swimming had to be the hardest. After that, it was my goal when I got to track.
"There really was a lot of pressure to make it in swimming. There are only two divisions in swimming, so that makes it even more difficult (because cross country and track have three divisions)."
Hoch believes this is only the beginning for Smith in terms of state success.
"Josh really works hard," she said. "He wasn't a cross country runner, but he started running with some of the girls on the swim team to get ready and he made the most of it.
"He puts in the work that is necessary and really has a good racing spirit about him. He doesn't seem to let the pressure get to him and I believe that both he and (Rinehart) will qualify for state (swimming) in individual events this coming year."
Schoch said Smith will continue to improve.
"Josh has seen the hard work that goes into achieving success at a high level," Schoch said. "He had one of those years that all athletes hope to have, and to have it as a sophomore is great."