The Watkins Memorial High School boys track and field team is getting plenty of mileage out of Hunter Holton.
“He’s our leading (point) scorer,” coach Marty Dahlman said before the Warriors competed in the Dick Dei Classic on April 14 at Wheeling (W.Va.) Park. “The pressure’s on the sophomore, no question.
“He’s undefeated (in the high jump) so far, and he’s also running the shuttle hurdles, the (110-meter) high hurdles and he’s the third leg on our (400) relay. We’ve used him as a long jumper, too. We’re really putting him to work.”
Holton placed sixth in the high jump (6 feet, 4 inches) in the Division I indoor state meet March 17 at the University of Akron, and he equaled that personal best when he won the event March 24 in the season-opening Icebreaker Invitational at home. He cleared 6-2 to finish first March 31 in the Tipp City Tippecanoe Invitational, and he posted the decisive height as the Warriors won the high jump (17-3) in the Dick Houston Relays on April 5 at Licking Valley. He also has won the high jump in two dual meets.
“He’s about 6-2, real tall and lanky,” Dahlman said. “He’s a better high jumper than anything else, and we definitely think he can go higher. He should contend at the 6-6, 6-8 level by the end of the year and that should get him into the state meet.”
The emergence of Holton helped the Warriors post top-two team finishes in each of the first three meets, which included a victory at Licking Valley. They trailed champion Logan 154.5-127 in the Icebreaker Invitational and Troy 106-103 in the Tippecanoe Invitational.
“Now we’re talking about closing the deal,” Dahlman said. “Our sprinters are picking up the pace, and we’re doing really, really well in the field events.”
Junior Nic Eader won the discus (130-3) in the Tippecanoe Invitational, and he also helped the Warriors win the shot put (128-4) at Licking Valley. Senior Mitchell Novotni is coming along in the pole vault as well, clearing a season-best 13-0 as the Warriors defeated Mount Vernon 104-33 in a dual meet April 10.
“Mitchell has made some big changes and worked through some off-field issues,” Dahlman said. “I expect bigger heights from him, and Nic is doing well, too. Ever since the Icebreaker we’ve been competing in colder weather, and on a couple of those days it was hard just to handle the discus. He’s done a nice job adjusting; the same goes for a lot of our kids.”
•Senior Reno Reda, who has signed to play football at Kent State, will take part Sunday, April 15, in his third practice for the Ohio North-South All-Star Classic. The game will be held Friday, April 20, in Ohio Stadium. He’s also playing baseball for the Warriors.
“Baseball is such a relaxed game. It’s so different than football, which of course is much more physical,” Reda said. “But it’s not like we’re hitting in practice all the time. It hasn’t been too bad, really. I just play baseball Monday through Saturday and move on to football on Sunday.”
Reda will play for the South team. Four of his future Kent State teammates — Aurora’s Anthony Melchiori, Elyria’s Tad France, Madison’s Jason O’Bryan and Minerva’s Kyle Crum — will play for the North. Future teammates Brice Fackler of Kenton and Chris Fairchild of Cincinnati Oak Hill also will play for the South.
“I’ve been in touch with those guys a lot,” Reda said. “It’s just a friendly competition going up against some of them. It’ll be fun.”
The game also will feature several Ohio State recruits, the South’s Warren Ball of DeSales included.
“There are Big Ten guys and a lot of MAC players,” Reda said. “It’s awesome playing with so many guys at this skill level.”