By VINCE PELUSO
Jefferson’s David Chase came into Saturday’s Division II state track and field meet with high expectations.
The high jumper came in as the Division II Austintown regional champion after clearing 6-feet-8 inches, which was tied for the top height going in.
The Falcon grinded and battled throughout Saturday’s competition at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, going to his third attempt at several heights, and was able to clear 6-7 which was good enough for a place on the podium in fourth.
“I didn’t have the greatest 400 (meter run) yesterday, had a lot of misses today,” he said. “I had to clear a lot of my third attempts. I’ve been pretty consistently good in my first jumps this year so today was just trial by fire. You just gotta keep grinding, keep working through it. To bring myself out of it, I was sitting pretty much last place after 6-2.
“So to dig myself out of that hole and get myself into a high medaling place, I’m happy with that. It wasn’t the game plan, but you just gotta go with what you’re given.”
Jeffery Floyd of Linden McKinley went on to win the event by clearing 6-10, Zach Robbins of West Branch placed second at 6-9.
Had Chase been able to match Floyd’s it would’ve matched the Ashtabula County record.
“He’s a phenomenal, great jumper,” Chase said. “He’s a good sophomore, so he’s going to have a great career ahead of him. The kid that took second, I jumped against him at regional and he’s a great jumper also. This was some good high jump competition for sure.
“I thought 6-10 was within my grasp this year, didn’t quite get it.”
It was a nerve-racking event for Chase.
He needed all three of his jumps to clear 6-4, 6-5 and 6-7, although he did clear 6-6 on his second attempt.
“I probably lost like five years of my life expectancy after today,” he said with a laugh. “I mean, that’s so stressful. You never want to be on your third jump that many times. Especially at the state meet, at a low height, it’s stressful, it’s not fun. But you gotta get focused and get it done.”
Regardless of his placing, Chase said he was proud to make it to state for the third straight year and get to soak in the atmosphere that comes along with competing in Columbus.
“I mean, I’m just thankful to be able to come down here three years in a row and be able to compete well,” he said. “I had a good jump today, I did well. I would’ve liked to have done a little better but I’m just thankful of being able to come down here and have the support that I have from my coaches and family and teammates. Just the amount of people that have helped me get to this point and how much support and how much effort they’ve put into it have made my track career possible.”
Also competing in Division II was Edgewood’s Chris Lemay.
The junior, who is a two-time state competitor in cross country, placed eighth in the 3200-meter run with a time of 9:50.85.
Coming in seeded 13th, Lemay was excited to make the jump to eighth and make the podium.
“I kind of figured that they would go out hard because it’s the state meet, there’s not going to be any tactical races,” he said. “The best thing for me is I always hang on, that works for me, I just keep going until you can’t go anymore.”
Hanging on was exactly what Lemay was able to do as he was in sixth place after five laps and in seventh going into the final lap, but Lamuel Bean was able to pass him and take seventh.
On a hot day that wasn’t necessarily conducive to distance running, Lemay said he battled through.
“Lots of hydration, lots and lots of hydration and the stretching was beautiful,” he said. “I went down very low in my mileage (in training) . I’d say my highest was five miles this week.
“I had to train in it (the heat) this week so it wasn’t that bad.”
After qualifying for state in cross country the past two seasons, Lemay said he enjoyed the experience of making it in track.
“It was pretty nice coming down here in track,” he said. “It’s a little intimidating at first because it’s so big and you never know where you’ll fit in. Just don’t be nervous and (it’s) fine.”
On the girls side in Division II, Perry’s Kayla Cool placed 11th in the pole vault by clearing 10-4.
Fairless’ Allyson Simmons blew away the field, clearing 13-4.25 to claim the Division II title. Her height was a full 2-feet clear of second place.
Also representing Perry was Dana Crofoot in the long jump.
After fouling on her first two jumps, Crofoot jumped 15-5 which was good enough for 15th place.
Kenton Ridge freshman Jamari McDavid won the event by jumping 18-5.75.