Nolan Landis believes this year's state track and field tournament is different.
"I feel like how I got to this point has a lot to do with having so many great athletes to throw against," the Madison senior said.
Landis will compete in both the shot put (noon) and discus (3 p.m.) on Saturday. He has the top marks in each event heading into the state tournament, which is at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
Landis uncorked a 61-0.50 in the shot during the Division I Austintown Fitch Regional last weekend. Rocky River senior Michael Shoaf, the reigning Division I state shot put champion, is right on Landis' heels at 60-8.50. They are the only two shot putters with 60 or above marks of 18 state entrants.
"I think the competitive balance in Ohio drives us all to be better and the journey has helped to create bonds of respect and friendship," said Landis, an Indiana University commit. "There is a kind of a 'last hurrah' that goes along with this meet, but I have to admit I'm also optimistic about the chance to keep competing against some of the guys through college."
Landis' 195-6 discus mark is nearly 10 feet ahead of Brecksville-Broadview Heights senior Tanner Watson.
"Until then, though, my plan is to give everything I've got to making this state meet a memorable one," Landis said.
Last season, Landis took fifth in the discus and seventh in the shot.
MCBRIDE LOOKS TO MOVE UP
Matt McBride has ran on the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium track in the 400 meters for the last three seasons.
The Conneaut senior finished third in the Division II event last season.
McBride's final chance at attaining first starts at 3:10 p.m. today in the semifinals. The top two in each heat and next five fastest qualifying times advance to the finals at 2:05 p.m. Saturday.
"He's confident, but Matt is very humble and modest," Spartans coach Denny Distelrath said of McBride. "He's still preparing like he has everything to prove."
McBride has the fastest time entering the state tournament with a 48.56 time. He's just one of two runners with a sub-49 time — the other is Springfield Shawnee junior Robbie Glass.
"Last year's third was a big accomplishment for Matt," Distelrath said. "The kids that finished ahead of him were seniors. His goal is to win it and he's in good position. The last three, four weeks, I've told him his time has to get better in order to win state. He totally gets it."
An hour after his 400 preliminary, McBride is scheduled to team with classmate Austin Pinkerton and juniors Seth Fedor and Aidan Thomas in the 4X400 relay semifinals. Once again, the top two in each heat and next five fastest qualifying times advance to the finals, which is at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.
The Conneaut quartet enters state with a 3:25.43 time. Toledo Central Catholic has the fastest time at 3:20.47.
McBride, Fedor, Pinkerton and Josh Leggett were on last season's 4X400 relay team, which placed sixth in the Division II Austintown Fitch region.
"With Josh graduated, we were looking for a replacement and Aidan has filled in," Distelrath said. "He's a very humble kid and can run anything up to the 800. Aidan has done well."
The group really clicked at the all-county meet on May 2 at Lakeside.
"That was the first time we ran under 3:30 (3:29.56)," Distelrath said. "The first month of the season they ran the hallways of school. Those four never take time off. They push through."
At the Perry District, the Spartans ran a 3:25.00 and placed second after Orange, which checked in at 3:24.94.
The next week at the Fitch Regional, Conneaut posted second at 3:25.43 after Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy's 3:25.40.
"At the district, Orange beat us out by .06 of a second, but that brought out the best of us," Distelrath said.
Distelrath's advice for the semifinal today is simple.
"I told the team to finish in the top two in our heat," he said. "I think we have to improve each run."
SKINNER CLOSES OUT PREP CAREER
Terril Skinner takes part in his second state track meet today.
The Jefferson senior is scheduled to run in the 110 hurdles prelims at 2:10 p.m. today. The top two in each heat and next five fastest qualifying times advance to the finals, which is at 1:05 p.m. Saturday.
Skinner ran a 14.70 regional time, but there are 10 hurdlers between 14.53 and 14.89.
"Terril has been good all week and has a good game plan," Falcons coach TJ Furman said. "Last year was the experience for him and that experience is big to help get the nerves out mentally."
In 2018, Skinner finished 10th in the preliminaries and didn't qualify for the finals.
Skinner is scheduled to attend Ohio University next season and major in sports management.
He was one of four county track athletes to receive a scholarship from Ashtabula Distance Runners Club during the Ashtabula County Track & Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame ceremony last weekend.
"I'm very proud of him and the the stuff he does outside of athletics," Furman said.