Sunday, June 03, 2001

Ohio boys track highlights

Middletown sets record in 400 relay

By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor

Middletown's Tyran Thompson and Darrell Hunter celebrate after winning the 400-meter relay.
(Yuli Wu photo)
| ZOOM |
        DAYTON — Erik Reynolds, Jesse Rhodenbaugh and the Middletown 400-meter relay put aside various problems to earn Division I state championships Saturday.

        Reynolds, a Lakota East senior, won the high jump. Rhodenbaugh, a Talawanda senior, won the 1600-meter run, and the Middies set a state meet record in the 400-meter relay en route to the title.

        The all-junior Middletown team of Tyran Thompson, Nasir Ahmad, Dennis Gates and Darrell Hunter overcame the disappointment of being disqualified in the regional 1600-meter relay to finish the 400 relay in 41.36 seconds, eight-hundredths of a second faster than the previous record, set in 1992.

        “That's two prizes in one,” said Hunter, the anchor who took the baton in second place and kicked to the win. “It felt good with all of the stuff that was happening. Being pushed at the anchor, and with the atmosphere of this being the state meet and the last meet of the year, it was like, "Don't hold nothing back.' You have to take so many downfalls to get to be the best.”

        “I lost more energy from screaming than running,” added Thompson, who finished sixth in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Ahmad finished third and Gates sixth in the 400 dash.

        Rhodenbaugh won the 1,600 by almost six seconds and cut eight seconds off his personal best, finishing in 4:08.7. LaSalle junior Allen Bader finished second and St.Xavier senior Ryan Busse.

        “I didn't realize I won by that much,” said Rhodenbaugh, who said he has been taking antibiotics for a sore throat since Wednesday. “On the last lap, I looked up at the (scoreboard TV) screen, and I didn't see anybody else in the picture.

        “I didn't know how I would do. This is really a relief. I've been training for this since November 27. I would think about it every night in bed, and it finally happened.”

        Rhodenbaugh, who's bound for North Carolina State, said winning the state title and breaking 4:10 were two of five goals he set this season. He made four of them, he said.

        Reynolds, who tied for sixth last year, overcame nerves and problems with the arches in his feet to clear 6 feet, 7 inches in the high jump. Then he waited while three challengers each missed three tries at that height. Some therapy and a pair of $30, over-the-counter inserts cleared the foot problems.

        “I've been wearing them for a month and a half now,” Reynolds said. “They seem to be doing the trick.”

        Reynolds passed on the first two heights and missed his first try at 6 feet before cleanly clearing the next levels.

        “He did what he needed to do,” said his father, Dave Reynolds. “It was a little nerve-racking at 6 feet. I think that was butterflies.”

        “I've been nervous all week,” said Erik, who was standing at the south goal line at Welcome Stadi um and indulged in a celebratory leap when the last challenger knocked the bar down for the last time.

        Other local entries to earn medals by finishing among the top six in their events were: LaSalle senior Patrick Rischmann, third in the Division I 3,200; Eastern Brown senior Cory Scheadler, third in the Division II 3,200; and the Cincinnati Country Day 400 relay team of seniors Justin Schneider, Carson Morey and Ben Foreman and junior Jarrod Byer, which finished fifth in Division III.


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