As long as Clay Harris does his best in both throwing events at the Division III regional boys track and field meet, the Newark Catholic High School sophomore should leave Pickerington North with a smile on his face.

As long as Clay Harris does his best in both throwing events at the Division III regional boys track and field meet, the Newark Catholic High School sophomore should leave Pickerington North with a smile on his face.

In all likelihood, he also will return home with two more state-meet berths safely in hand.

"If I (set a personal record) and don't win that's OK," he said. "If I win and don't PR I'm still a little disappointed."

Therefore, Harris must feel as if he still has some work to do despite winning both the shot put (50 feet, 9 inches) and the discus (146-6) for a second consecutive season during the district 2 meet last Tuesday at Gahanna. He has yet to match his best career efforts, both of which came last season when he became the school's first boys state qualifier in the shot and first discus qualifier since the 1980s. He threw 52-4 in the shot put at state meet and 159-11 in the discus to win the MSL-Ohio Division title.

"The big thing is he might have peaked a little early last year, especially in the discus. I don't think that'll happen again," said his father, Jim, who is the throws coach for the Green Wave. "He's bigger and stronger now. I think he's setting himself up for a strong finish."

Earlier this month, Harris won the shot put at the Licking County Honor Roll Meet (51-4 12) and the MSL-Ohio meet (51-0 1/4).

"In the discus I'm making strides. I'm still behind in the shot," he said. "Hopefully, I'll keep improving in both."

Harris has designs on reaching the state meet again in both, of course. If that does happen, the path to the podium might be a little easier. He failed to make the finals in both events last year, but six of the eight placers in each graduated. They included discus champion Cory Meuleman (180-4) of Columbus Grove and shot put champion Tyler Branch (57-4 14) of Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant. Meuleman's distance also would have topped the state field in Division II and been good enough for runner-up in Division I.

"Division III was loaded last year. Clay was in a tough position being just a freshman," his father said. "The guy who won the discus was incredible. Fortunately, a lot of those guys are gone now"

Harris, who took second in the discus (155-8) and third in the shot put (51-41/2) at last year's regional, already has seen that inexperience, at least at Gahanna.

"This year 43 feet (in the shot put) was good for fourth place. Last year fourth was 49 feet, and that's a huge difference," he said. "There's a lot more younger guys this year. There's a different feel."

The setup at Gahanna for both throwing events was different, too, complete with new rings that forced Harris to change the shoe on his pivot foot for the shot.

"They were very slick," Jim Harris said after the shot, which Harris won with more than a six-foot advantage over runner-up Jahleel Mullins (44-6 14) of Columbus Africentric. "Clay warmed up pretty well but then he started fouling. He had to make some adjustments, but that's what this time of the year is all about."

ELSEWHERE -- Three other area boys won individual district titles in the field events last week, and so did the Granville 3,200-meter relay (8 minutes, 27.72 seconds) during the Division II district 2 meet at Columbus Whetstone. During the district 1 meet at Whetstone the winners were Licking Valley's Travis Glosser in the high jump (6-0), Austin Balka in the long jump (program-record 21-6 34) and Colin Miller in the pole vault (12-0).

Local athletes took the top four spots in the high jump as Utica's Brandon Baker (5-8) and Travis Lee (5-8) finished second and fourth and Heath's Wes Bending (5-8) was third. They also took three of the top four spots in the pole vault as Valley's Durbin (11-4) was third and Utica's Jake Torrens (11-0) was fourth.

LEAGUE CHAMPS -- Watkins Memorial won the OCC-Capital team title May 17 at Franklin Heights, its first since 2001 when the meet also was held there. Granville's MSL-Ohio title ended Heath's bid for a fourth consecutive championship.