Three members of the Watkins Memorial High School track and field program competed in the Division I state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
Representing the boys team were senior Ethan George in the 300-meter hurdles and senior Nic Eader in the shot put, and the girls team was represented by sophomore Josie Woosley in the 1,600.
The top four finishers in each event in the regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North qualified for state.
Eader was seeded 16th at state in the shot put after placing fourth at regional in 51 feet, 8 inches. He also competed at regional in the discus, finishing ninth (147-9).
"It was the end of a rough week for Nic," boys coach Marty Dahlman said. "With him losing his coach and friend (Charlie Watkins) that week, it was difficult. He struggled in the discus (May 29), but he showed just how really tough of a kid he is the rest of the week."
Watkins, 36, died unexpectedly May 26. A 1995 Watkins Memorial graduate, he taught social studies at the high school and was an assistant football coach in addition to serving as the throws coach for the boys and girls track teams.
Watkins' funeral service was held June 3 in the high school gymnasium.
"(Eader) spoke in front of 2,000 people in a beautiful candlelight vigil we had (May 30)," Dahlman said. "It was very moving and I think he showed how tough he is. He came back the next day and qualified (for state in the shot put) on his fifth throw, right after the thunder started rolling. I've never seen an 18 year-old handle that type of pressure so well. It's a tragedy, but it's also one of those stories where you can't help but feel great about Nic qualifying. You really have to admire what he's done."
George was seeded 12th at state in the 300 hurdles after placing third at regional in 39.47 seconds.
"Ethan was a regional finalist last year and the goal all this season was to reach state," Dahlman said. "He really ran a great race to advance. It's just great to see seniors come through at the end like you always hoped they would do."
Also competing at regional for the boys team were Hunter Holton in the high jump (tied for fifth, 6-4) and 110 hurdles (eighth, 15.75), Chance Abbitt in the 400 (sixth, 49.84), Donovan Garrison in the 100 (eighth, 11.31) and 200 (10th, 23.14), the 1,600 relay of Abbitt, Vinny Anderson, Connor Severino and George (fifth, program-record 3:22.32), Desmond Melson in the 400 (ninth, 52.17), Brandon Oney in the pole vault (10th, 13-0), the 400 relay of Evan Caniff, Tyler Culpepper, Holton and Garrison (10th, 44.29), Jerrod Lyon in the long jump (11th, 20-6 1/2), Mike McKean in the 3,200 (11th, 9:44.84), Jacob Sanders in the shot put (12th, 46-4), the 800 relay of Severino, Anderson, Lyon and Abbitt (13th, 1:34.96), the 3,200 relay of McKean, Austin Dowis, Luke Gamertsfelder and Owen Tennant (15th, 8:51.85) and Kyle Ellinger in the pole vault (no height).
The boys team scored 23.5 points to finish 11th behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
Woosley was seeded 13th at state in the 1,600 after placing fourth at regional in 5:09.36. Last year at state, she finished 12th in the 800 (2:18.1) and was a member of the 3,200 relay that finished 14th (9:38.15).
"Josie put a lot of pressure on herself to get back (to state)," girls coach Nathan Corum said. "She got herself in good position (early in the 1,600 at regional) but got a little tight toward the end, but was able to get through. I was real excited for her, but for her it was more of a relief because she had those expectations for herself."
Also competing at regional for the girls team were Stephanie Robb in the 800 (sixth, 2:16.53), the 800 relay of McKenzie Biniker, Monica Tumblin, Rachel Lawwell and Robb (eighth, 1:46.26), Kara Robinson in the 100 hurdles (10th, 16.25) and Sami Miller in the pole vault (13th, 9-0).
The girls team scored nine points to finish 23rd behind co-champions Gahanna (55) and Pickerington Central (55) as 39 teams scored.
Sexton to play for Team Ohio
Senior pitcher Dan Sexton has been selected to play for Team Ohio in the Heartland Baseball Classic on June 17-22 in Norman, Okla.
This spring, Sexton went 10-1 with one save and a 0.75 ERA in 74 2/3 innings. The left-hander, who had eight complete games and six shutouts and held opponents to a .162 batting average, was named first-team all-district and all-OCC-Capital Division.
Sexton, who will play for Tiffin University, also was selected by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association to play in the Mizuno Senior All-Star Series on Friday, June 14, and Saturday, June 15, at Ohio State. He will not compete in the event, however, as he is playing for the Pickerington Post 283 American Legion team.
This season, Watkins Memorial finished 22-7 overall and placed second (11-3) in the OCC-Capital, behind Olentangy Orange (12-2).
Seeded third of 41 teams in the Division I district tournament, the Warriors reached a district final before losing to 14th-seeded Marysville 7-2 on May 23 at Ohio Dominican University.