Count Jett Murphy among the area’s select group of accomplished small-school pole vaulters. The Covington High School senior and Ansonia teammates Brock Shellhaas and Matthew Shook have raised the excellence of vaulting in the Cross County Conference to the highest level.
That season-long competitiveness – and a strong-willed determination – carried Murphy to a Division III state championship on Friday at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. His 15-footer – with less previous misses – was a personal best.
“I had chills,” the senior said. “It was the best thing. It was better than waking up on Christmas morning.”
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The only running final on Friday was the girls and boys 4x800-meter relay in all three divisions. All the other Friday racing was to qualify for Saturday’s finals.
All of the D-III field events were contested on Friday and half the D-II events. All of the D-I field events were scheduled for Saturday.
Murphy was third in the vault at state last year and was determined to trump that as a senior. Shellhaas was fifth (14-4) and Shook ninth (13-6).
“It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed about since I’ve been vaulting,” said Murphy, who will pursue the event at Youngstown State University. “I was really focused. I knew it was the last time in a Covington uniform and vaulting for my high school.”
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• Dunbar was in excellent position to defend its D-II boys track title. Led by senior hurdler/sprinter Jalani Allen, the Wolverines advanced all their top prospects.
Allen posted the best D-II finals qualifying times in the 110 high hurdles (14.37) and 100 (10.95) and qualified fifth in the 200 (21.75).
Dunbar also had the best 4x100 (42.83) and 4x200 (1:28.47) relay qualifying times and was third in 4x400 relay qualifying (3:20.84).
Last year the Wolverines won their 10th outdoor boys state team title without winning any of the 17 events. Dunbar also has won multiple combined Divisions II and III indoor boys state team track and field titles.
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• Wayne had its D-I boys title shot dashed when super sprinter Zarik Brown pulled up lame after anchoring the 4x100 relay. The Warriors posted the state’s best time in winning the regional last week (41.69). Wayne was nearly one second slower and advanced, but it was costly.
“Nothing is guaranteed and it hurts,” said Wayne coach Mike Fernandez, who scratched Brown from the 200 and non-qualifying 4x400 relay. “It’s tough, but no one’s feeling sorry for us. There’s nothing like losing your best sprinter.”
Brown also advanced in the 100 (10.84) but was questionable for that and the 4x100 relay.
• Minster won the 4x800 girls relay (9:18.41). That put the Wildcats, a 12-time girls state team champion, into great position to contend for another small-school title. Members of the Minster relay were Cassie Francis, Kaitlynn Albers, Emma Watcke and Madeline Magoto.
• Beavercreek sophomore anchor Taylor Ewert fought off a large pack as the Beavers placed second in the girls D-I 4x800 relay (9:01.65).
• Milton-Union senior Beyonce Bobbitt led the D-II girls discus until the final throw and placed second (143-3). She’s a multiple state qualifier since her freshman season and qualified for the D-II shot put on Saturday.
• Oakwood senior Jake Schauer was third (14-6) in the D-II pole vault. Schauer’s personal best reset a Lumberjacks school record that had stood since 1972. He also was scheduled to compete in the D-II high jump on Saturday.
• Dublin Coffman senior sprinter Abby Steiner set all-time D-I state and stadium marks in the 100 (11.47) and 200 (23.17) finals qualifying.