By Rob Kiser
TROY — Piqua senior high jumper Ashley Ho continues to soar towards new heights.
And Tristen Cox and Devon Brown both turned in strong performances for the Piqua boys at the GWOC All-Star meet Friday at Troy.
Ho cruised to the GWOC title, clearing 5-4 — while no other jumper cleared 5-2.
And all three of her attempts at 5-6 were very close — which would have raised Ho’s school record and tied the meet record.
“I think the more attempts you can give yourself at a height, the better off you are going to be,” Ho said. “That is the third time I have attempted 5-6 and that was the best jumps I have made at it. It was my goal at the beginning of the year and I think I can get it next week at district.”
So does Piqua girls coach Courtney Downs.
“I am telling you, she is right there,” Downs said. “She is going to get it (5-6).”
In a meet where Ho was the clear favorite, she passed until 4-10 and didn’t have a miss until her first attempt at 5-4, which she easily cleared on her second attempt.
“So much of high jumping is mental,” Ho said. “You want to get in late, make as few a jumps as possible and conserve your energy.”
For Ho, the biggest thing she sees is the progress she is making as a senior.
“I did 5-2 as a sophomore and I did 5-2 as a junior, I didn’t progress any,” Ho said. “This year, I have progressed three inches (she did 5-5 1-4 at the Miami County Invitational). I think it is coach (Bill Plessinger, the Greenville coach who works with Piqua high jumpers). Maybe its having a bigger high jump team (at Piqua).
“I know the seniors have really pushed me. But, that has helped me. Maybe it is the new track (at Piqua).”
Downs said there is another factor as well.
“Ashley (Ho) is healthy this year,” Downs said. “She was dealing with a lot of shin splint issues last year. With the new track, issues with shin splints are way down with our team.”
And there is only goal left as Ho heads to district.
“She has gone to regionals the last two years,” Downs said. “She wants to get beyond that (go to state) and she is going to do it.”
Cox uncorked a 148-10 throw in the discus, 14 feet farther than he threw in the GWOC American meet Tuesday — to take third.
“It felt good,” Cox said. “You want to have a throw like that before a big meet like district and get some momentum. I feel really good about that throw.”
So did Piqua coach Scott Kaye.
“He has been off for some football stuff and hasn’t been throwing a lot,” Kaye said. “It was good to see him get a throw like that.”
Cox wasn’t happy with his performance in the shot put, fouling on five of his six attempts and finishing eight.
He will throw the discus Wednesday and put the shot Friday at district this week.
“It just seems whatever adjustment I make or whatever change I make, it is not working (in the shot put),” Cox said. “You never know what can happen (by Friday), but I have got a lot of work to do in the shot put.”
Kaye wasn’t overly concerned.
“He didn’t even know he was going to do the shot (until Friday),” Kaye said. “So, he didn’t get a lot of reps with it in practice. And he has been struggling a little.”
Brown competed in the 100 and 200 and anchored the 800 relay, with Jacob Bushnell, Coeby Patton and Caleb Patton.
Brown saved his best race for last, taking third in the 200 in 22.55.
“That was a real good race for me against this competition,” Brown said. “I am happy with that. Especially, with my leg being a little tight.”
Brown had finished sixth in the 100 in 11.32 and the 800 relay was fifth in 1:34.12.
“I wasn’t happy with the 100, but my leg was real tight,” Brown said. “There is always room for improvement in the 800 relay. But, we are running PRs. Just have to keep pushing myself and working hard.”
“He had a real good race in the 2o0,” Kaye said. “The relay — was OK, we didn’t do anything to get DQ’d. It was their first test against intense competition. Some learn a lesson by getting DQ’d and they learned a lesson, while still finishing the race.”
Piqua will compete in the Wayne Division I district Wednesday Friday.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.