It’s easy to distinguish DJ Hickman from his brother Drew. They’re the Northmont speedsters who are in front. Both qualified for four events in this week’s Division I regional track and field meet at Welcome Stadium.
They’re just part of a possible program-defining week for the Thunderbolts. On Thursday, both the Northmont baseball and softball teams will play Mason in D-I regional semifinals.
DJ Hickman, a junior, swept the 110-meter high hurdles (14.51) and 300 hurdles (39.65) in last week’s D-I district at Piqua. Drew, a sophomore, advanced in the 400 and long jump. Both were members of the runner-up 4x200 relay (1:28.64). DJ also ran on the regional qualifying 4x100 relay and Drew on the 4x400 relay.
So, who wins the race for the TV remote?
“It’s me,” assured DJ. “Really, we’ve never gone head to head.”
Northmont coach Tony Broering is certain that he knows who’s No. 1.
“I always say it’s (little brother) Drake,” he said. “That’s the one in sixth grade and he sits with me in the stands and roots on his brothers.”
Northmont’s Josh Blanton also advanced in four events and won the district 100 (10.87) and 200 (22.14) titles.
The D-I track and field regional begins at 4 p.m. today with field events and mostly running prelims. The meet resumes on Friday at 4 p.m. with all finals. The top four move on to the state meet at Ohio State University the following weekend.
The D-II regional is Thursday and Saturday at Welcome. The D-III regional is today and Saturday at Piqua.
Northmont (24-3) should have an advantage in its softball semifinal against Mason (21-7) on Thursday. That’s because Northmont is the host site for the D-I regional. As of Tuesday, the Ohio High School Athletic Association did not insist that the games be relocated.
“Either way, you know what? We’ve played here before,” Mason coach Liann Muff said following an 8-3 defeat of Fairfield in the district final that also was played at Northmont. “We’ll do whatever the state says, but, sure, we’d like it somewhere in the middle.”
Northmont (22-7) is matched against unbeaten Mason (26-0), the state’s No. 1 team, in Thursday’s baseball regional semifinal at the University of Cincinnati (5 p.m.). That’s part of a doubleheader, with Lakota East playing Moeller in the 2 p.m. opener.
All baseball regional finals are scheduled for Friday and softball regional finals for Saturday. Those winners advance to next week’s state semifinals.