Track and Field: Belmont gaining on City League’s best

Belmont anchor Makai Lewis (left) takes a handoff from teammate Fred Hoard in the final of the 4x100-meter relay during the D-I regional track and field meet at Welcome Stadium last week. The Bison placed third (42.41) and qualified to this week’s state meet. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Caption
Belmont anchor Makai Lewis (left) takes a handoff from teammate Fred Hoard in the final of the 4x100-meter relay during the D-I regional track and field meet at Welcome Stadium last week. The Bison placed third (42.41) and qualified to this week’s state meet. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Credit: MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Credit: MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

STATE TRACK

When: Friday-Saturday.

Where: OSU's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, Columbus.

Division I: 4:45 p.m. Friday; 4x800 relay finals; semis all other running events; noon and 3 p.m. Saturday, field events; 4:30 p.m. running finals.

Division II: 9:30 a.m. Friday field events; 1:30 p.m. 4x800 relay finals; semis all other running events; 9:30 a.m. Saturday field events; 1 p.m. running finals.

Division III: 9:30 a.m. Friday 4x800 relays finals; semis all other running events; 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. field events; 9:30 a.m. Saturday running finals.

Belmont has a lot of catching up to do to join City League track and field powers Dunbar, Thurgood Marshall, Meadowdale and Stivers, and the Bison are making progress. For the first time since 1994, Belmont will be represented in the state meet in Columbus this week.

Thanks to anchor Makai Lewis’ rocket-like effort to jet from fifth to third in last week’s Division I regional at Welcome Stadium, Belmont qualified for the Division I state meet in the 4x100-meter relay. According to head coach David Reed, a 2004 Belmont grad, it’s been 22 years since the Bison ran at state.

That renewed sense of spring athletics fever mirrors similar success in Bison football and boys basketball this school year.

“It feels good to get our sports back up there,” assured Lewis, Belmont’s designated speedster and the only senior on the relay. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do.”

Joining Lewis at state are junior Fred Hoard, sophomore Dawson Martin and freshman Herman Chongwain. Incredibly, the Bison cut more than one second from their prelim time to place third behind winner Withrow and runner-up Centerville in a season-best 42.41. That kind of improvement can only happen when everyone runs their fastest and handoffs are perfect, a challenge that can derail the best relay teams.

Dunbar, the two-time defending boys state D-II champion, is still king of City League track and beat Belmont in the event in the league meet. Belmont has since separated from all the other City League programs by joining D-I teams for the postseason.

Reed was a volunteer assistant football and track coach for Belmont’s middle school. Athletic director Earl White sensed Reed was the right guy to take over the track program when an opening surfaced.

The results were immediate. Reed was part of White’s football staff in which Belmont qualified for the playoffs for the first time last season. White also wanted a football/track link and Reed was it.

Hoard, Martin and Lewis all play football, too.

“We try to let our athletes play as many sports as possible,” White said. “We want to keep them as busy as we can.”

Reed figured he had something special when Chongwain and Hoard were middle school standouts. They begged for Reed to move up to the high school ranks when they did.

“The first thing I did was meet with the boys and I told them how serious I take track and the potential I see at Belmont,” said Reed, who played football/track both at Belmont and Central State University. “It was up to them to go after those goals or be the same old Belmont. I told them, I would like to break the cycle.”

Belmont must place among the top eight teams during Friday’s state prelims at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus to advance to Saturday’s finals.

“We’ve wanted this before the season started,” assured Lewis.

• Stivers senior Tyler Johnson moved into second among all-time 400 area bests during the D-II regional and pulled Meadowdale’s Wayne Lawrence with him. Johnson’s 46.57 set a D-II state and regional record. Incredibly, so was Lawrence’s 47.03.

Johnson’s clocking was the area’s best since Zach Logan of Trotwood-Madison beat Cleveland Glenville’s Ted Ginn Jr. to win the D-I 400 in the 2004 state meet (46.64). Dunbar grad Chris Nelloms still holds Ohio’s all-time 400 record — among many others — with a 45.59 in the 1990 D-I state meet.