Wayne freshman leads girls to runner-up finish; Centerville boys win regional title

HUBER HEIGHTS — Wayne freshman Ric’Keya White had a great day on the track last week at districts when she broke three school records, set three personal records and won three races. She said that was her best day.

Then on Friday at the Division I regional meet on her home track, she realized she had just given a nearly duplicate performance, lowering her PRs to win the 100-meter hurdles (13.98 seconds), 300 hurdles (43.12) and place third in the 100 (11.76). She has a new best day.

“Any time the times are better I guess it is a better day,” she said.

At the state meet next week at Ohio State, she will go for another best day. Whether that happens or not, her coach, Mike Fernandez, knows there are even better days ahead for the freshman who led her team to a second-place finish behind Mason.

“Could be the best to come out of the school, boy or girl, and that’s saying a lot with the athletes that have come here,” Fernandez said. “She’s self-driven, she’s a hard worker, and she’s so talented.”

White’s recent improvement was sparked by some recent disappointment in some of her races.

“I went to conference and I didn’t run how I wanted to,” she said. “So ever since it’s just execute, run hard, finish everything. I’ve just been dropping time since then. It’s surprising but I worked for it.”

Centerville won the boys title behind junior Sopuluchi Anosike runner-up finishes in the 110 hurdles (14.38) and the high jump (6-4) and was two for four in his bid to qualify for state in four events. He banged into too many hurdles in the 300 and finished a disappointing last. He just missed advancing in the long jump with a fifth-place finish.

“It helped the team, so that’s all that matters,” Anosike said. “Hopefully I can get top three in my events, and I think I can win the high jump if I really lock in.”

Centerville senior Cameron Gay reached his preseason goal and will also be competing in two events at state. He placed second in the discus (175-2) on Wednesday and third in the shot put (54-9.75) Friday.

“I’m happy I made it there, and hopefully I can keep competing and moving up,” he said.

Franklin junior Liam Acevedo overcame a minor ankle injury to advance in three events. He finished third in the 100 (10.76), fourth in the 400 (50.02) and finally fourth in the 200 (22.24). Halfway through the 400 the ankle started to hurt, but he kicked late to finish fourth and was limping after the race.

“I had a really weird step, and then after that it was just kind of everything I had left,” he said. “Every stride after that felt a little wonky, a little unbalanced.”

After a short rest, he made it through the 200 despite a misstep out of the blocks. Acevdeo will run at state in the 400 for the third time. The 100 and 200 will be state debuts.

“It felt really nice to reach that potential this year and we’ll see what I can do my senior year,” he said.

Miamisburg coach Melvin Johnson died Monday after a long cancer battle, but his athletes ran in his memory with blue marker on their arms and legs in the shape of ribbons. Inspired by the memory of their beloved coach, junior Lauren Zanotelli won the 3,200 and Innocent Ntwali placed second in the boys 3,200.

Zanotelli said she was just hoping to earn one of the extra qualifying spots for state. She never imagined she would win.

“Head coach Melvin Johnson, I’m doing this for him,” she said. “He got me through a lot.”

Ntwali made a big jump in the fall to finish fifth in the state cross country meet. He had qualified for the 1,600, but he ran only in the 3,200 to maximize his chances to go to state. Last year he was sixth at regionals.

“This really shows me how much I’ve come in the last year,” said Ntwali, who is also running with a heavy heart. “I don’t even know how to describe what I’m going through. It’s just really sad and a lot, especially thinking about him while I’m trying to focus on my race. Our coach was really a positive guy. He’s the type of guy that you were excited to see.”

Wayne senior Megan Rybitski equaled her PR in the pole vault of 12-3 to win the event.

“It’s definitely stressful, especially coming towards the end of the season and this is meet that decides whether you go to state or not,” she said. “So it means a lot.”

Beavercreek dominated the 400 races. Defending state girls champion sophomore Kayleigh Keyes won in 55.84 and sophomore Kaden Ellerbe won the boys race in 49.31.

“Probably the most nervous I’ve been for a race but glad I could win,” Ellerbe said. “She definitely set the example for the 400. I watch her and see what she does and try to replicate it.”

Other boys state qualifiers: Butler sophomore Jordan Gross was seeded sixth in the 200 but won it in 21.96. Lebanon junior Calvin Kilgallon won the 800 in 1:53.54. Centerville sophomore Daniel Emmert and Miamisburg senior Aaron Schwieterman placed 3-4 to qualify in the 1,600. West Carrollton senior Aret Kadiri and Fairmont sophomore Logan Wilkins placed 3-4 in the 110 hurdles. Beavercreek junior Liam Gluck was third in the 300 hurdles. Wayne senior Jahi McDonald was fourth in the high jump. Springboro senior Ryan Johnson was fourth in the shot put. Qualifying relay teams Friday were Beavercreek first in the 4x400 and Wayne fourth in the 4x100.

Other girls state qualifiers: Chaminade Julienne sophomore Te’aira Branham-Patrick was fourth in the 200. Troy senior Leah Harnish was second in the 400. Beavercreek sophomore Macie Roberts was fourth in the 800. Wayne senior G’niyah Brown was seocnd in the long jump. In the pole vault, Centerville sophomore Ann Lehmann was second, Troy senior Hannah Duff was third and Springboro junior Izabella Oliver was fourth. Beavercreek senior Sahijah Alston was third in the discus. Qualifying relay teams Friday were Centerville fourth in the 4x200 and Beavercreek third in the 4x400.

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