Coach Bill Darling seemed as surprised as anyone that his Thomas Worthington High School track and field team came away from Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on June 3 hoisting the Division I trophy.
“It’s just amazing that we could come away with the title scoring as many points as we did and winning only one event,” Darling said. “It’s a testament to our team approach. We brought eight kids here and every one of them got on the awards stand.”
Little did Darling realize that his competition would come from the OCC. With 36 points, the Cardinals outscored district rivals Gahanna (31) and Canal Winchester (29) for their first title since 1999. Olentangy Orange (25) and Reynoldsburg (24) followed in fourth and fifth place.
The Cardinals won the 3,200 relay on June 2 and Arjun Jha finished second in the 1,600 (4:09.09).
“Honestly, I had no idea we were even in the hunt until people starting coming up before the last couple of events and telling me we had it won,” Darling said. “I just came here trying to score as many points as we could.”
Gahanna contended with the help of a win in the meet-ending 1,600 relay (3:14.9), and LaCarr Trent was second in the 100 (10.73) and ran on the Lions’ second-place 400 relay (41.73).
Meanwhile, Lonzell Feagin was a points machine for Canal Winchester, winning the 100 (10.68) and 400 (47.31), finishing second in the 200 (21.56) and adding another point in the long jump.
“This has been building for the past couple years,” said Feagin, a Pittsburgh signee. “This was a goal, to win state in an event or two, coming into the season. I ran cross country in the fall just to get my stamina and strength up for the 400. I can’t describe how great this feels, especially considering the hard work that went into it.”
Max Frye of New Albany also had a remarkable day, winning the 110 high hurdles (13.94) and 300 hurdles (37.37).
“Everything I’ve worked toward and thought about all year has been pulling this double,” the Dartmouth signee said. “A lot of things can happen in the hurdles, but I feel fortunate to have gone through two clean races like I did.”
Other area winners in Division I were freshman Malachi McGill of Hilliard Darby in the 800 (1:53.28), Travis Marx of Reynoldsburg in the 200 (21.18) and Hunter Moore of Olentangy Orange in the 3,200 (8:58.47).
Moore got a measure of revenge on second-place Matt Scrape of Pickerington Central, who had outkicked him in the regional race.
“I knew Matt was going to be there again, so I tried to put together a game plan so that it wouldn’t turn into a kicker’s race again, because he has an edge on me there,” Moore said. “Even though I’ve a run little faster, I’d say that was the best race of my career and the most fulfilling.”
In Division II, Taylor Hopkins of Heath had a terrific meet, winning the 800 (1:54.46) and taking second in the 1,600 (4:14.65).
“I got to that moment (in the 800) when I was kind of dying, but I’ve after getting nosed out in the 1,600, there’s no way I was giving up,” he said. “I’ve been wanting this for three years.”
In Division III, Isaac Naayers of Fairfield Christian won the 400 (49.19) and Austin Hallabrin of Mount Gilead capped his career with a win in the 800 (1:52.54).
Boasting a state-best in the high jump, Naayers scratched from the event last week because of a partially torn hamstring, but it didn’t seem to bother him in the 400.
“I never had thought about winning the state in the 400 until (June 2) when I had one of the top qualifying times,” Naayers said. “I thought the high jump was my only chance.”
Hallabrin, who does not plan to compete in college, took out his first lap in a blistering 55 seconds and was never challenged.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel anything the whole race,” he said. “Winning was all I thought about. This was the last race of my career and it was all or nothing.”