High School Track and Field: What you need to know about state meet

Beavercreek’s Kayleigh Keyes hopes the evening air will cooperate with her asthma this weekend as she goes for a second straight state Division I championship in the 400 meters at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.

Keyes, a sophomore, won last year with a time of 55.27. She won the region meet on Friday at Wayne High School in 55.84. Her best time this year is 55.69 and ranks her a close third behind senior Ella Baker of Steele and junior Maira Scott of Holland Springfield. Baker placed eighth last year and is coming off a personal record (55.21) at her region meet. This is Scott’s first time at state.

“I hope just like anyone else to win, but I’m going to do what’s best for me that week,” Keyes said after her regional victory Friday. “Run my race despite how I’ve been feeling recently.”

The 400-meter semifinals start at 6:15 p.m. Friday. The final runs at 5:45 Saturday.

Keyes isn’t the only Beavercreek 400 participant. Fellow sophomore Kaden Ellerbe won the boys 400 at regionals to advance to his first state meet. He has the sixth-best time in the state this year, which he ran at the Bellbrook district meet.

“I’m really proud of him,” Keyes said. “Today we didn’t run our best times, but I think we can do it next week if the weather permits.”

The action begins 9:30 Friday morning with Division III on the track and Division II field events. Division I action begins Friday at 4:45. Divisions II and III resume at 9:30 Saturday. Division I resumes with field events at noon and track finals at 4:30.

Here are some other storylines to follow:

Wayne freshman goes for three medals: Ric’Keya White has been running in AAU events since she was seven. She always dreamed of trying hurdles but had some fear of it. Then once she tried it the summer before her seventh-grade year she was hooked. But to be at state this soon?

“I did not expect to be here right now at all,” she said. “But I knew if I trusted myself, the process, the coaches, support system, everything, it was possible. But if you would have asked me last year would I have been running a 13.98 and a 43.12 in hurdles I would have laughed at you.”

Those times in the 100 and 300 were her winning times she ran at regionals last week on her home track, are PRs and are, respectively, the third- and second-best times in the state this year. She is chasing Gahanna Lincoln senior Camden Bentley, the defending champion in both races and two-time winner in the 300. White is also coming off a PR in the 100 dash (11.76) and ranks fifth in the state.

Oakwood senior favored in distance double: Bella Butler owns the best times in the state in the 1,600 and 3,200 and will try to add victories in those events to the one she won in the fall at the state cross country meet.

Butler finished second last year in the 3,200 behind former teammate Grace Hartman. This year Butler’s best time of 10:39.86 is 11 seconds better than what she ran at state last year and better than anyone else this year by 14 seconds. She placed fourth last year in the 1,600, and her best time this year of 4:46.54 is almost three seconds better than what she ran at state last year. Chasing her is Waynesville junior Samantha Erbach (4:51.32).

Butler will also be running on Oakwood’s 4x400 relay team that has a chance to crack the top eight for a medal.

Three Division I boys going for multiple medals: Centerville’s Sopuluchi Anosike and Cameron Gay and Franklin’s Liam Acevedo are hoping for a big weekend. Anosike, a junior, and Gay, a senior, led the Elks to the regional team championship. Anosike comes in ranked tied for second in the high jump (6-8) and seventh in the 110 hurdles. Gay ranks third in the shot put and fourth in the discus. Acevedo, a junior, overcame a slight ankle injury at the region meet to advance in three events. He comes in ranked fifth in the 400, 10th in the 100 and 30th in the 200.

Other top contenders: In Division II, Dunbar junior Dai’Vontay Young ran the fastest time in the state this year in 110 hurdles (14.09) at the Piqua district meet. One of his challengers is Brookville junior Kory Davis (14.12) who ran the third-best time this year at Piqua. Northridge sophomore Leeyah Samuels ran the fourth-best time this season in the 300 hurdles at regionals.

In Division III, Versailles senior Colton Reese comes in with the best time in the 110 hurdles (14.74) and sixth-best in the 300 hurdles. Anna senior Justin Richards enters with the second-best time in the 100 (10.87). Legacy Christian senior Maddy Merritt qualified in three events and has the second-best time in the 400 (56.43). She finished second last year to Wayne Trace’s Sydnee Sinn who owns the best time this year (55.48).

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