Hartley Roundup: ‘Practicing non-stop’ pays off for Hawks’ Trey Saunders at state track meet
Knowing what he was capable of proved to be a difference-making quality for Trey Saunders during the Division II state boys track and field meet at Pickerington North.
The Hartley junior was runner-up in the 100 meters in the district 2 meet that concluded May 22 at Westerville North and again during the regional a week later at Lexington. He turned in times of 11.19 seconds at district and 11.26 at regional.
There were 15 athletes who finished with better regional times than Saunders, but that didn’t keep him from entering state with the goal of winning the championship.
He came close, running 11.02 during the preliminary race June 4 and then finishing in 11.14 in the final June 5 when conditions were slightly hotter to place second behind Lisbon Beaver’s Caleb White (11.09).
“I’ve been practicing non-stop, just working on my starts and working on my finishes,” Saunders said. “I struggle with the finish, but (I’ve) just (given) it my all.”
Saunders, whose personal best in the 100 is 11.0, likely would have been at the regional on the 400 relay but the Hawks false-started during the final at district after posting the best preliminary time (43.97).
Saunders has a summer filled with college football camps and hopes his performances in track are a springboard.
“It’s going pretty well,” he said. “I’ve been working hard and it’s a non-stop grind. Even through (COVID-19), it’s still been good. I’m trying to get faster, smarter, stronger, everything. Football for me, that’s my dream and goal, so I just want to get better at that.”
Reese Barker, who was a regional qualifier in the 110 hurdles, and Shawn Saunders, who was a regional qualifier in the long jump, led the senior class.
The others who ran on the 400 relay during the district preliminary were senior Kason Sunderland, junior Richard Kenny and freshman Xavier Martin-Fuller.
Also eligible to return are juniors Cherod Bowens (sprints), Luke Eschmeyer (middle distance), Avion Murphy (discus), Daniel Tooson (discus, shot put) and Jared Williams (middle distance) and freshmen Andrew Bassetti (distance), Donovan Davis (shot put), Grady Hill (middle distance), Nathan Ogden (distance) and Thomas Williams (high jump, long jump).
“Our whole thing with Trey was just ‘buy into the process,’ ” coach Reggie Osborne said. “We always thought he could get to state and I’ve always had the philosophy that it’s about what happens on that date. He ran a good race in the finals, so it was a nice ending point for the team. We kind of left our (400 relay) behind with them false-starting (at district). They had probably one of the best times in this local area.”
Most of girls track
team to return
Junior Makailah Walker represented the girls track team in the 100 in the Division I state meet at Hilliard Darby.
After finishing fourth in the district 3 meet and fifth at the regional May 28 at Pickerington North to earn one of two at-large berths to state, Walker finished 16th (12.57) at state June 4.
“It was a really fast prelims and she didn’t run bad at all,” coach Jim McKay said. “She was just slightly off what she’d been doing and it was really hot. ... She wasn’t our fastest 100 runner going into (the postseason) and she ran better every time, so she really came through and peaked well.”
According to McKay, Walker’s time of 12.38 at the regional is the ninth best in program history.
Walker, who was the only regional qualifier for Hartley, also ran on the 400 relay that finished fifth (50.6) at district to miss advancing by one spot. Other members of the relay were sophomore Alex Etienne and freshmen Alana Andrew and Sarah Gilliam.
Another eligible to return after just missing advancing to the regional is sophomore Joi Brown, who was fifth at district in the high jump and also competed in the long jump and in sprints.
Juniors Mia Martin-Fuller (sprints), Payton Moore (discus, shot put) and Rebecca Tepper (middle distance), sophomores Asia Branch (discus, shot put), Jackie Radous (distance), Gabby Reed (middle distance), Arianna Settles (sprints, long jump) and Cece Woods (middle distance) and freshmen Sarah Gilliam (sprints), Piper Minnich (distance) and Jada Shade (sprints) are others eligible to return.
Branch’s discus throw of 107 feet, 1 inch that placed her sixth at district is the fourth best in program history, according to McKay.
“We have a lot of great young athletes coming back and, cross our fingers, we’ll be Division II (for the postseason) next year,” McKay said. “We’d do extremely well in Division II. Joi Brown just missed qualifying for regionals in the high jump. Asia Branch is only a sophomore, but she did really well.”
TRACK & FIELD
•CCL standings: Boys — Watterson (172), St. Charles (137), Hartley (94), DeSales (70), Ready (15); Girls — Watterson (214), DeSales (119), Hartley (117), Ready (33)
•Seniors lost: Boys — Reese Barker, Eayuel Gebrtsadik, Kenny Johnson, Shawn Saunders, Kason Sunderland and Cameron Thomas; Girls — Pailyn Groene, Ellie Kitsmiller, Megan Luallen and Emily Moore
•Key returnees: Boys — DeAunte Hubbard, Richard Kenny, Xavier Martin-Fuller and Trey Saunders; Girls — Alana Andrew, Asia Branch, Joi Brown, Alex Etienne, Sarah Gilliam and Makailah Walker
•Postseason: Boys — Ninth (31) at district behind champion Heath (93), tied for 25th (8) at regional behind champion Sandusky Perkins (77), tied for 28th (8) at state behind champion Peninsula Woodridge (43); Girls — 11th (25.5) at district behind champion Watterson (139.5), tied for 26th (4) at regional behind champion Gahanna (84), did not score at state