By Rob Kiser
HUBER HEIGHTS — Piqua senior high jumper Ashley Ho earned her third straight trip to regionals.
Tristen Cox is returning to regionals in the discus — and state placer Andy Mayes was back on the track in the 1,600 — running for the first time since the first meet of the season Wednesday at the Wayne D-I district track and field meet.
That Ho would dominate the high jump was no surprise — she cleared 5-4 and Troy’s Dasia Cole was second at 5-1.
Missing on her first attempt at 5-0 — after getting in at 4-10 — that was a shocker.
“That just shows you, I get nervous for every meet,” Ho said with a smile. “I was surprised, but everyone else had a miss at 5-foot too. Maybe it was the wind, I don’t know.”
Ho, who won district as a sophomore and advanced to regionals a year ago as well, was taking nothing for granted.
“I was looking forward to jumping at district,” she said. “It was not like I was just looking to get this over with. Not at all.”
Piqua coach Courtney Downs knew there was nothing to be concerned with about Ho’s first attempt at 5-0.
“Her steps were just off,” she said. “Like I said, Ashley (Ho) is very good at making adjustments on her own out there.”
And the goal Wednesday was a simple one.
“It didn’t matter whether Ashley (Ho) was first, second, third or fourth,” Downs said. “All that mattered was getting to regionals.”
Ho had a little different perspective.
“I think I did (want to get the district title back),” she said. “I think I really wanted to win. The wind is always tough. But, it was pushing us towards the bar. So, it is hard to say how much difference it made.”
Ho missed on three attempts at 5-6 after locking up the win.
“I probably shouldn’t have tried it tonight,” she said. “Maybe, tried a different height. Hopefully, I can get it next week (at regionals). I am going to have to if I want to get to state — or at least get to 5-4 clean.”
Cox, also a senior, took the lead from the outset in the discus.
His first throw was 146-4 and that was good enough to give him the lead heading into finals.
“After last week (at the GWOC) and a week of practice, I felt like I could thrown pretty well,” Cox said. “It kind of took the weight off (his shoulders going into the finals with the lead). It was like at least I know I have that throw already and going to regionals.”
Wayne’s Joe Crain won with a throw of 149-9.
“He topped it with his last two throws in the finals,” Cox said.
Cox will compete in the shot put Friday.
“Maybe a little,” he said about it giving him confidence. “But really, it is two different events. It is two different techniques, so it really doesn’t mean anything.”
Cox will be looking to getting to state next week — after just missing out last year.
“That (state) is always the goal,” Cox said. “Last year, I finished fifth and missed by one spot. I think I threw it farther at district this year, so we will see.”
For Mayse, just being on the track Wednesday was a story in itself.
Mayse, a state-placer in the 1,600 last year and state qualifier in the 800, hadn’t run since the first meet of the season back in March due to a stress fracture.
“That was tough when the diagnosis came down,” Mayse said. “Thinking my senior year might not happen. Then about four or five weeks, I started hearing there was a possibility I could come back and I started working harder. I have been working on the Alter G machine. It allows you to go and condition (when you have a stress fracture). I have been doing that four or five days a week.”
Still there were some anxious moments Wednesday before Mayse advanced to Friday’s final in both events.
“I was pretty nervous,” he said. “I hadn’t run an outdoors 1,600 since the state meet last year (when he finished seventh). I am a little sore, but it feels good.”
Mayse won his heat in the 1,600 in 5:03 and finished fourth in his heat of the 800 in 2:08.65 to advance. Dante Kemp also advanced to the finals in the 1,600 with a time of 5:05.97.
“I was hoping the heat (in the 1,600) would be a little faster,” he said. “But, a lot of those guys had just run in the 4×8 (3,200 relay) and were just looking to qualify. I really do (think that he can do well Friday). The first goal was to get to Friday and I am there.”
And he had one last thing to add.
“Beat Navy,” Mayse, who will run for Army next year, said with a laugh.
After all, he has already beaten the odds by being there Friday.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.