Clay Harris and Luke Webster of the Newark Catholic High School boys track and field team have been pushing each other toward the Division III state meet in the discus all season, and last Wednesday both took the final step.

Clay Harris and Luke Webster of the Newark Catholic High School boys track and field team have been pushing each other toward the Division III state meet in the discus all season, and last Wednesday both took the final step.

Harris, a junior and now a three-time state qualifier, broke the program record and captured his first regional championship with a a throw of 168 feet, 6 inches during the preliminary round at Fairfield Union. Webster also advanced to the state meet, which will be held Friday at Saturday at Ohio State, by placing third with a throw of 157-1 during the finals.

"Clay had a stud attack today," Webster said. "Mine was nothing special, really. I just did what I had to do to make it through although I don't think I've ever been happier with third place."

A modest approach such as that doesn't quite tell the whole story of the friendly rivalry between the two. Webster, who also was making his third regional appearance in the discus, threw a personal-best 166-9 to edge Harris by one inch during the opening Lakewood Invitational on March 28, when Harris also set what then was a personal record (166-8). That only served to up the stakes for teammates who have been competing together since middle school.

"It really helps having a guy like Clay right there battling with you every time out," said Webster, a senior who will throw next year at Bucknell. "And I'm really thrilled to be moving on with him after last year. I had a good regional as a sophomore, but last year I came down with the strep throat that week and didn't throw very well."

Harris also wasn't happy with his performance at last year's regional meet, where he finished second at 151-10. He's looking at colleges such as Stanford, Ohio State, Ashland, South Carolina and Air Force for track. His football options might become clearer once he participates in several prospect camps next month.

"I wasn't throwing very well at the end of last year, really," said Harris, who still managed to finish eighth at the state meet with a throw of 162-3. "We did things a little different in practice this year so I'm stronger and quicker. We were throwing more heavy implements a lot sooner than before, and with more volume, too. So, hopefully, I'll be able to reset my (personal record) again (this) week."

Throws coach Jim Harris, who is Clay's father, said it's no coincidence that his tandem took half of the state berths available at Fairfield Union.

"Our No. 1 goal coming into the season was to get Luke to state, too. I've been coaching him since seventh-grade basketball, so this is a great way to end things up with him," he said. "They're both just throwing really well right now. We've moved on to speed lifting here in the second half, with lighter snatches and squats. It's a peaking program, and I think we've got them both where we want them going to (this) week."

The Division III and Division I regional meets concluded last Friday and the Division II regional meets ended last Saturday.

Other early state qualifiers included Newark Catholic's girls 3,200-meter relay and Watkins Memorial's Kayla Brown in the Division I girls high jump.

In Division II, the early state-meet qualifiers included the Granville boys and girls 3,200 relays and Johnstown's Mychelle Furlan in the girls discus. The Granville boys 3,200 relay (8 minutes, 1.25 seconds) won the regional in Dayton and the Granville girls 3,200 relay (9:40.44) won the regional at Byesville Meadowbrook.

At a glance

Below is the state meet schedule:

FRIDAY -- 9:30 a.m., Division III 3,200 relay final and track preliminaries; 10 a.m., Division II field events; 1 p.m., Division III field events; 1:30 p.m., Division II 3,200 relay finals and track preliminaries; 4:45 p.m., Division I 3,200 relay finals and track preliminaries

SATURDAY -- 9 a.m., Division II field events; 9:30 a.m., Division III track finals; noon, Division I field events; 1 p.m., Division II track finals; 4:30 p.m., Division I track finals