The state championship he won June 3 at Ohio State felt like a long time coming for Reynoldsburg High School senior boys track and field standout Travis Marx.
Making his third appearance in the Division I state meet, Marx ran 21.18 seconds in the 200 meters to top a field that also included runner-up Lonzell Feagin (21.56) from Canal Winchester and Raiders senior J.J. Cooper (sixth, 21.81).
"I planned on doing this for a long time and it's finally here so I'm just living it," Marx said. "Probably my block start was the big key. That's always the key to any race, and coming off the curve I just have to open my stride and get that lean at the line and that's what got it for me. It's state, so you're nervous, but of course I used that to my ability and got the (victory)."
As a sophomore, Marx ran on the 400 relay that was fifth at state. Last season, he was fifth in the 200, helped the 400 relay finish fourth and ran on the 800 relay that was fifth.
"We got another state champ, and I'm just so proud of him," coach Richard Ladowitz said. "I wore my shirt that said 'Finish' on it today, and I told Travis this morning that I wore it for him. We had some really big performances by our seniors."
In addition to his individual title, Marx helped the 400 relay, which also included Cooper, junior Marion Organ and sophomore Dionte Roddy, finish third (41.95).
That relay achieved the finish despite not having senior Sterling Smith, one of the Raiders' top sprinters the last two seasons, throughout the postseason because of an injury.
"Getting third is not bad at all," Marx said. "We're happy we came out where we did."
Finishing among the top three in the state in the 400 relay was among the team's goals heading into the season, according to Ladowitz, but he was impressed they accomplished the feat without Smith.
The Raiders finished with 24 points to place fifth behind champion Thomas Worthington (36) as 80 teams scored.
Another big contributor from an individual perspective was Cooper, who took fourth in the 100 (10.81) in addition to his performance in the 200.
After originally committing to be a preferred walk-on to play football for Ohio State, Cooper has begun receiving interest for his track skills from Division I programs such as Akron and Pittsburgh, according to Ladowitz.
This was Cooper's only prep season on the track team.
"It felt pretty good," he said.
"With it being my first year out, I was very nervous. It's much harder (than a team sport) because you have to do everything by yourself. You have to be mentally and physically prepared. I did the best that I could and I fell back in love with (track) this year. It was good to be back at it."
The Raiders finished third (97) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet May 11 and 13 at Olentangy Orange behind Gahanna (147) and Pickerington Central (143) and ahead of Lancaster (77), Pickerington North (43) and Grove City (16).
They scored 37 points in the regional May 24 and 26 at North to finish sixth behind champion Thomas (73) as 37 teams scored.
At regional, senior Tyler Britton took fifth in the discus (144 feet, 4 inches), Cooper, Marx and Organ ran on the seventh-place 800 relay (1:29.17) with junior Elijah Dismuke, senior Warrick Stanford was 15th in the 400 (51.82), freshman Muhammed Fall was 10th in the 300 hurdles (40.58) and the 1,600 relay of Stanford, senior Arrington Dulin, sophomore Lance Gauthney and freshman Wendesen King was 16th (3:37.98).
Also eligible to return is junior James Hickman, who competes in the high jump and long jump.
Girls track team to
return strong group
Of the six competitors the girls track team had at state, three are eligible to return.
The top finisher was senior Mika Cox, who took fifth in the 400 (55.5).
She also ran on the sixth-place 400 relay (47.72) with senior Tylar Mixon, junior Dalajah Long and freshman Jessica Ricks.
The Raiders tied for 34th (7) behind champion Cincinnati Withrow (58) as 62 teams scored.
The other state representative was the 1,600 relay of Cox, Mixon, senior Hannah Gaskins and sophomore Nia Grant, which ended up ninth (4:02.71).
The Raiders were among the top four for much of the 1,600 relay, but Mixon fell during the final leg of the race after another runner collided with her.
Ladowitz spoke with meet officials, but impeding was not ruled.
"I didn't see exactly what happened, but I had some parents say a girl impeded her," Ladowitz said.
"The judge ruled that she hit the rail, but my protest was that she hit the rail because she was impeded."
Grant, Long and Ricks give the Raiders a nucleus for next season after they placed fifth (42) in the OCC-Ohio meet behind Gahanna (165), Central (150), Lancaster (85) and North (65) and ahead of Grove City (16).
"I feel pretty pleased about (state)," Long said.
"It was my first time coming here. I'm a junior so I'll be here next year, and hopefully I'll run the (100, 200 and 400) and maybe the (400 relay)."
Others eligible to return include sophomores Nia Amerson (spot put, discus), Jasmine Blueter (middle distance), Natalie Costello (distance), Leah Goodwin (shot put, discus), Breanna Johnson (sprints) and Tayla Lee (middle distance) and freshmen Kendall Craiglow (sprints), Leah Goodwin (discus), Asia Gregory (discus), Kennadi Harris (high jump) and Olivia Olverson (sprints).