STATE CHAMPIONS

Denzell Feagin was a key reason the Pickerington High School Central boys track and field team figured to repeat as Division I state champions, but the senior sprinter was not above taking advantage of a little luck.

Preparing for the 200-meter final during the state meet June 1 at Ohio State, Feagin saw a $5 bill blow across the track.

"I stepped on it and stuffed it in my shoe," said Feagin, who won in 21.44 seconds. "That's the type of day it was."

Almost everything went the Tigers' way last weekend, more so than for any other team champion in state history.

Central won seven events, including all four relays, and amassed 87 points to more than triple the total of runner-up Toledo Whitmer (24) as 78 teams scored. All of those accomplishments were meet records.

Feagin also won the 100 (10.67), two spots ahead of sophomore teammate Lorenzo Styles (10.85), was on the winning 800 relay that set meet, stadium and state records of 1:24.42 with seniors Evan Matthews and Terry Simuel and Styles and helped the 400 relay finish first (41.49) with junior Darnell Bonner, sophomore Keith Moton and Styles.

Matthews, an Ohio State recruit, won the 300 hurdles (36.88) and was on the winning 1,600 relay with senior Brady Johnson, Simuel and sophomore Garner Wallace (3:16.34).

Johnson, Simuel and Wallace teamed with freshman Jailen Willis to win the 3,200 relay (7:42.68) on May 31, edging runner-up Cincinnati St. Xavier by .37 of a second.

Central won its final four meets -- the OCC-Ohio Division, district 1, regional and state -- by a combined 228 points.

"When I got the baton, I was a little bit scared because I knew the St. Xavier guy was out there, but I just put faith in my knowledge of running the 800 and just did it to the best of my ability," said Johnson, who ran anchor. "I knew I could go out fast and tried to do my best to take it on the back stretch. I'm thankful for my teammates that were able to get me the baton in a great position. We had a great season."

Wallace was fourth in the 1,600 (4:16.01).

Matthews overcame some adversity, as he pulled a hamstring during the preliminaries of the 110 hurdles May 31. He finished 17th (15.77), as did Willis in the 3,200 (10:10.29).

Seven days earlier in the regional meet at Pickerington North, Matthews set a regional record in the 300 hurdles (36.12).

Simuel, a Southern Illinois recruit, replaced Max Smart on the 3,200 relay, which recorded the fifth-fastest time in the country, according to MileSplit.com.

"It's crazy because this is my second (3,200 relay) of the year," Simuel said. "I haven't run it since last year, but they trusted me to get on it so I wasn't going to let them down."

Feagin ran anchor on the 400 relay. The 800 relay's time was fourth-fastest in the country, according to MileSplit.

"We said, 'Let's go out and make some history,' " Feagin said. "We're probably the most talented class to come through here for the next couple years. Everybody came to perform."

Wood goes out as 400 champion

Senior Jaydan Wood of the girls team repeated as 400 state champion in 53.4, beating runner-up Nia Robinson of Twinsburg by 1.62 seconds. Wood, an Ohio State recruit, also placed fourth in the 200 (24.4).

"I wanted to be in the 52 range and I obviously didn't hit that, but just to be able to even compete and be healthy and repeat is extremely special," Wood said. "I took the race out really strong because that's how I run. I thought I was in control the whole way, but when the crowd starts cheering, you never know if somebody's coming up behind (you)."

Central's other state qualifier, sophomore Grace Adegoke, placed 16th in the high jump (5 feet) in her first state meet.

The Tigers scored 15 points to finish 12th behind champion Liberty Township Lakota East (65) as 68 teams scored.

Wood was Central's only senior.

Other contributors eligible to return include juniors Simone Mahan (high jump) and Madison Potts (thrower) and freshman Ramiya Roy (sprints).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave