COLUMBUS — Matt McBride had been waiting for the state track and field meet for 12 long months — since last year’s ended.
His day finally came on Friday, but not without more waiting. As McBride took the track at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus to prepare for his 400-meter dash, lightning struck and the Conneaut senior had to wait nearly four hours longer than anticipated after multiple weather delays.
“For the initial 30-minute delay, I thought I was fine,” McBride said. “I thought I could wait for 30 minutes, I did warm-ups, I was pretty good. Second (delay), whatever, stay warm. And then as it kept going and going, it kind of broke me down mentally and that’s honestly my fault, because the race is 90 percent mental. So, right there, in my mind, I lost 90 percent of the race.”
Still, McBride put on a display that proved to be worth the wait.
He won his heat with a time of 49.32 to clinch a spot in today’s Division II state final.
“I was hoping for a better time,” McBride said. “At regional finals I ran in the 48s. I was hoping to do that again. I needed to execute a few things that I didn’t and that’s on me. I’m looking to improve on that tomorrow.”
McBride, who finished third in the state last year, entered Friday’s preliminaries with the fastest qualifying time — 48.56. Robie Glass, of Shawnee, won the other heat with a 48.53.
McBride and Glass will be the two favorites to take home the state championship.
“He ran a fantastic race,” McBride said of Glass. “According to the times, he’ll be right on the inside of me (today). He’ll be in (lane) four, I’ll be in five, I believe, and just try not to let him pass me. He runs a great race, fast in the beginning, fast in the end, so I can’t let him past me.”
McBride also advanced to today’s finals as a member of Conneaut’s 4x400 relay team. He, Austin Pinkerton, Aidan Thomas and Seth Fedor collected a time of 3:24.22 to claim the eighth spot in the championship race.
The quartet shaved more than a second off their seed time of 3:25.43 and they are eyeing the county record of 3:23.13, which was set by another group of Spartans.
“This relay team is the best I’ve ever been on,” McBride said as he and his teammates awaited the second semifinal to conclude to see if they would be running again today. “I love these guys so much. … It would just mean so much (to compete today), because we have a 30-year-old county record that we’re looking to break and to just get another shot to do that would be fantastic.”
ONE MORE RACE
Jefferson senior Terril Skinner’s high school track and field career will end this weekend, but it’s not over yet.
Skinner advanced in the Division II 110-meter hurdles. He ran a 14.90 in the semifinal — the fourth fastest time.
“I’m feeling great,” he said after the race. “It’s great to be back (at state). All the hard work — this is what we work for.”
One year ago, Skinner finished in 10th place — one spot away from qualifying for the final race.
“I think just the experience from last year really helped,” he said. “Because coming here, seeing all the great competition, defending state champion (Joseph Clifford of John Glenn) is in my heat, so having that kind of competition, seeing what it’s all about, I know what to expect. I know how to race.”
Barring changes from Friday’s weather delays, Skinner is scheduled to compete for the state title today at 1:05 p.m.
“(Today’s) gonna be my last race, so there’s no better way to do it than get on top of that podium,” Skinner said. “My last race, I figure why not fight for that state title and get on top of that podium.”
SOMETHING TO WORK FOR
A two-time state champion in the seated shot put state, Pymatuning Valley’s Gabe Warsing claimed third in the event on Friday.
Warsing, a junior, heaved his shot put 21-09.00 feet. Bradley Landon of Mount Gilead won with a 25-03.00 and Clark August of Liberty-Benton recorded a 22-10.50 for second.
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve performed the best that I could with the conditions that I’m in right now,” Warsing said. “I just want to push myself to do better next year — it’s all I can do. They did better than I did. I did the best I could.”
Warsing also competed in the 800-meter preliminaries. He cut his qualifying time by 20 seconds and finished fifth with a 2:26.95. He will compete in the 800 finals today, as well as the 100 and 400 races, which were postponed due to the weather.
“With the 800, I dropped like 20 seconds on it, so I’m hoping I’ll do the same thing with the other two,” Warsing said. “I’m hoping I’ll place pretty well.”
Jenna Harvey, a PV sophomore, tied for 14th in the Division III high jump with a leap of 4-10.
END OF AN ERA
The Geneva relay teams of Taylor Cupp, Paige Williams, Elizabeth Joy and Tayler Jamison saw their season come to an end on Friday. The group registered a 1:44.18 for 12th place in the 4x200 and a 3:59.47 in the 4x400 for 11th.
“Honestly, we did good,” Williams said. “We ran a 42 last week, so it kind of sucked to run a 44, but, at the same time, we’ve been running 44s. It’s not like we ran a 46. So we ran what we normally do, not our best. … Disappointing, but, at the same time, that we were still happy we (ran) our normal.”
Cupp said, “4x400, we ran a good time, like sub-four still. We were just going to go out and have fun, because we were seeded like 16th, so we weren’t really expecting much, but we still wanted to have fun with it.”
The trip to Columbus was the first for all four, who broke the county record in the 4x200 last week at regionals with a 1:42.87. It also marked the last race for seniors Cupp and Williams, but it would be hard to find a location more appropriate than Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium to close a career.
“I feel like it’s awesome, because so many people dream of running here and they don’t always get the chance,” Cupp said. “I’m really glad that we made it our senior year, because it just really brings the end of the season together. … To get to see all the best athletes in Ohio is amazing.”
Jamison and Joy both have another year left to try and break their own record. They will also have a healthy Cheyanne Santiago, who spent much of this season working her knee back to full strength after an ACL tear last year.
Cupp and Williams will have one more moment today. In what’s seemingly become a yearly Geneva tradition, the two will officially graduate from high school in Columbus. From being the greatest 4x200 relay in county history to all the friends they have made, both will have plenty to look back on.
“You learn hard work and everything, you learn work ethic, you learn how to be a team, but what’s with me the most is these guys are my family,” Williams said. “Every single person that is super close to me is on the track team, because we just build that bond. We suffer together and we celebrate together. Coach (Bobby) McQuoid and coach (Dave) Yost, we don’t get along all the time, but those two are like uncles. They know everything about us, they’re always there for us.”