Think not qualifying for the state track and field meet the last two seasons didn’t level pole vaulter extraordinaire Dalton Shepler? It did. That’s what happens after twice bombing in the state-qualifying regional meet.
That also was all the motivation the Butler High School junior needed on Wednesday, even trumping a loaded Wayne Division I regional field that included the defending state champion.
“After doing that for two years straight, you have no idea how much I was shaking,” said a relieved Shepler, who soared to a regional record 16 feet, 10 inches and took three shots at an all-time, all-divisions state record. “I couldn’t even shake people’s hands correctly. I was shakin’ everywhere.”
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Both the D-I meet at Wayne and the D-III regional at Troy conclude with Friday’s running finals and the remainder of the field events. The top four in each event qualify to next week’s boys and girls state track and field meets at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
About half the girls and boys field events were held on Wednesday. The top eight qualifiers in Wednesday’s running prelims advance to Friday’s finals.
Another D-I regional record was set by the Beavercreek girls 3,200-meter relay of Juliann Williams, Jodie Pierce, Savannah Roark and standout junior anchor Taylor Ewert (9:00.46). That bettered runner-up Mason, which also broke the previous record, by five seconds.
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Shepler has been a nationally ranked age-group vaulter since middle school and has collected numerous elite-meet titles. But participating in the state meet – despite being among Ohio’s best – had eluded him, until now.
Shepler and Centerville defending state champ Yariel Soto both passed until 14-3. After each cleared 14-6, Soto dropped out, having clinched second in the vault and first in the long jump (22-10), which he also is the defending D-I state champ. That left the vault uncontested to Shepler, and he delivered.
Twice the event was delayed because of rain. In between, Shepler flew over 15-0, 16-0 and 16-10 on his first attempts, surpassing the previous regional record of 16-9. Then he set his sights on the all-time state record of 17-2 that Jacob Blankenship of Gahanna Lincoln set in 2012. Shepler whacked the bar on two attempts at 17-3 and ran through the pit on his final attempt.
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“It was a great feeling and I’m hoping for more attempts in the future,” said Shepler after receiving a steady flow of congratulations from event officials, coaches and competitors. “I’ve choked twice in two years. It’s about time I went to outdoor state. It really means a lot.”
Boosted by Shepler’s win, Butler was the first-day boys team leader, 21-18 over runner-up Centerville.
• The OSU track and field program received a winning effort from two of its recruits. Trotwood-Madison senior Jahcorian Ivery won the discus (155-10) and Troy junior Lenea Browder the shot put (43-0.25). Ivery, an outstanding offensive lineman for the Rams, signed with the Buckeyes track program this spring and Browder is verbally committed.
Troy was the girls team leader, 11.50-11 over runner-up Cincinnati Turpin.
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• Wayne senior sprinter Zarik Brown posted the best finals qualifying times in the boys 100 (10.90) and 200 (21.95) and had the second-best 400. However, the Warriors’ shot at the boys regional and state team titles took a hit when its 1,600 relay – a contender to win – was disqualified. Brown was Wayne’s anchor in that event.
• The Minster girls 3,200 relay of Kaitlynn Albers, Ella Boate, Gwendolyn Meiring and Madeline Magoto set a Troy D-III regional record (9:20.59). That bettered the Wildcats’ regional mark that had stood since 2003.
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Other Troy D-III regional girls winners were Springfield Catholic Central freshman Mallory Mullen in the high jump (5-4) and Covington senior Lauren Christian, who defended her shot put title (42-1.25).
Boys D-III winners were the Fort Loramie 3,200 relay (8:07.76), Southeastern senior Charlie Bertemes in the discus (156-0) and Ansonia junior Brock Shellhaas in the pole vault (14-4).
• The D-II track regional concludes at Piqua at 11 a.m. Saturday.
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