By VINCE PELUSO
Last year, the only Jefferson Falcon boys track athlete to make it to the state meet was David Chase, who qualified for the Division II meet in the high jump.
This year, Chase is back and he’ll be bringing a teammate with him in Jacob Hamilton, who will compete in the pole vault.
Hamilton won the Division II Bedford region in the pole vault, clearing 13-feet-6 inches while Chase won the region in the high jump, clearing 6-6.
“We’re very excited,” Jefferson coach T.J. Furman said. “We had a really good session with Jacob on Monday, then we gave him a day off. We were out with David on Tuesday, getting him ready, especially on the mental part.”
For Hamilton, the regional win allowed him a bit of redemption as an injury before regionals cost him a chance to qualify for state in 2012.
Back and healthy, he’s ready for this year’s opportunity.
“I plan on going down there to PR (personal record),” Hamilton said. “I don’t think I’ve had my best jump of the year yet. Anything can happen down there, I think 14-3 can place.
“I expect to see the best athletes in Ohio down there, for sure.”
Furman said Hamilton should head to Columbus with a nothing-to-lose attitude.
“I talked with Jacob and we talked about the fact he has nothing to lose,” he said. “Just go down there and have fun. That’s the biggest thing, we want him to enjoy the moment.
“This kid, he’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached. I’m so excited for him.”
Chase shared in his coach’s excitement for his friend, Hamilton.
“Really, Jacob got robbed last year with an injury, so it’s so awesome to get the chance to go down there with him,” he said. “He put in so much work, he is my best friend, we train so much together, it’s a joint success and is huge for us.
“I’m so happy for him. I couldn’t think of a better guy to share the experience with than J-Ham.”
The goal going into the season for Hamilton was to make it Columbus, winning the region was a bonus.
“The goal last year was getting to state and this year it was the same,” he said. “Winning the region was just icing on the cake. Once we saw the heights, we realized I could do it.”
Hamilton is experimenting with some bigger poles this week that will hopefully allow him to clear a higher height. Hamilton will jump fifth during the event, which starts at 9:30 a.m. on Friday at Jesse Owens Stadium.
For Chase, this year will hopefully be a chance for him to build upon his success last year.
“I would like to see (David) get to the podium, I think top eight is a great success,” Furman said. “So that’s kind of how we’re looking at it. I know he’s capable of it. If he jumps his best, you never know what can happen. The returning champion jumped 6-9. If he stays confident and relaxed, he’ll do very well.”
Chase had similar thoughts on the meet, saying his preparation and the right mental attitude is the key.
“It’s just about staying calm and focused” he said. “I need to go through the right preparation the night before. Then once the meet starts, you keep remembering that you don’t have to do anything crazy. The high jump is a long event, you gotta keep focused.”
Chase said he isn’t focused on any particular height or placing going into the meet.
“I’m going in with the same mentality as last year,” he said. “I’m not gonna jinx myself by setting a set expectation, I just want to let it flow and what happens, happens. I’m not going down just to soak up the environment. If I stay clam it’ll work out good.”
Getting the opportunity to compete at the event last year is something Chase thinks will serve as a benefit to him this year.
He also will have plenty familiarity with the field he’ll be jumping against.
“I know what the environment and what to expect,” he said. “Last year was a good young field, and it’s the same field as last year, except some more guys added in so it’s just as good. It’s anyone’s game to jump well.
“The atmosphere is awesome, seeing all those people. When you go up to jump you just get into that mindset, you don’t see or hear anything it’s just you and the bar. You just jump above it. It’s awesome to see the crowd before and you get pumped off that adrenaline.”
Chase will jump 11th in the high jump, which will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Also competing in Divison II will be Perry’s Zach Hurd and Nicholas Lauria. Lauria will be in the pole vault with Hamilton, jumping first.
Meanwhile Hurd will compete at 9:30 a.m. on Friday in the long jump then run in the first heat, eighth lane of the 100-meter dash at 2:25 on Friday. The top two times from each heat followed by the next five fastest times qualify for Saturday’s finals.
For only the second time in school history, Lakeside will be represented at the state track meet when Otis Conel runs in the Division I, 400-meter dash.
Conel qualified with a time of 49.44 seconds and will run in the third lane of the first heat at 6:25 p.m. on Friday.
“The preparation has been good,” Lakeside coach Olajuwon Cooper said. “We’ve really been working on starting off the block quick. He pretty much knows how to run the race, but we want to make sure he gets off the blocks fast.
“At this level, the little things like that really separates runners. Things like form, technique and the fundamentals of running, everyone is fast at this level, so those are the things that will carry you.”
Cooper said Conel is entering the meet like he still has something to prove, not just resting on the accomplishment of qualifying.
“Pretty much the attitude going in right now is he’s still got something left to prove, he feels like he hasn’t done anything yet,” he said. “His attitude as far as the race is concerned is to put his best foot forward. He feels like there’s more to do and that’s a great attitude to have.”
Cooper doesn’t expect the senior to have any problem handling the moment at a meet that is unlike any other during the regular season.
“I think he’ll handle it fine, we’re heading down (today) after practice so we can get a feel for things on Friday morning so it’s not a shock,” he said. “He’ll be fine once he gets used to and it sinks in. He’s going down there to put Otis Conel on the map and that’s not so much more pressure, it’s an opportunity.
“I told him to look at it as more people watching you run the 400 but you’ve been running it all year, it’s no different. I think he’ll be fine.”