By Rob Kiser
TROY — Jett Murphy feels good heading into his final high school competition.
And Lauren Christian wasn’t taking anything for granted.
Both Covington athletes will head to state as regional champions, while the Houston boys 3,200-meter relay also earned a state berth Wednesday at the Troy D-III regional meet.
Murphy and Ansonia’s Brock Shellhaas had another showdown in the pole vault — with both vaulters clearing 14-8 and then just missing at 15-2. Ansonia’s Matthew Shook also made it to state with a height of 13-6.
“This has been a really fun year,” Murphy said about his competition with the two. “It is great to have three vaulters from the CCC going to state. We are all really good friends.”
Murphy made 14-4 and 14-8 on his first attempt, while Shellhaas cleared those heights on his second attempt.
That was the difference in the final standings.
“To be honest, I didn’t (think 14-8 on his first attempt would be enough to win),” Murphy said. “It is always good to make a height on your first attempt. I finally got on my big pole tonight.”
At 15-2, both were close.
“I can get that height,” Murphy said. “I just haven’t been on that pole enough. I have a really good feeling going to state. I feel good and I am jumping well.”
While Christian was three-feet beyond everyone else in the shot put, with a winning distance of 42-8 — she was taking nothing for granted.
“You feel like you should win,” she said. “But, at the same time you know any of those other girls can make a big throw.”
The junior had a put of 42-0 1-4 on her final throw in prelims, before hitting her winning put in the finals.
“I got it on my last throw,” Christian said. “I think there is (a different expectation level at state this year). Last year, I wasn’t even expected to make finals and finished sixth. I want to finish a little higher this year.”
Friday, she gets a chance to be a double qualifier for the second straight year in the discus.
“I need to do some work on that event,” Christian said with a laugh. “That is not my best event, but I still need to work at it.”
The Houston boys 3,200-meter relay team (Tristan Freistuhler, Parker Cox, Blake Jacobs, Ethan Knouff) finished third in 8:14.78 to advance to the state meet.
Houston was third for much of the race, before anchor Ethan Knouff took the baton in second and went on to finish third.
“I probably could have gotten second,” Knouff said. “I was mainly just thinking about staying in third and making it to state.”
All four were on the Houston cross country team that made it to state.
“When we found out Tristan (Freistuhler) was running track this year, our thoughts instantly were state,” Knouff said. “He hadn’t run track since junior high. The goal was getting to state. Now, that we have done it we can look at where our time is.”
They will be chasing a familiar opponent. Fort Loramie is the regional champion.
“That does help,” Knouff said. “Knowing they are regional champion and we have been running close to them all year.”
A number of local runners are positioned for high finishes in Friday’s finals.
For the boys, the Covington 1,600 relay (Gray Harshbarger, Andrew Cates, Ty Freeman, Nathan Lyle) and 800 relay (Alex Shaffer, Gray Harshbarger, Lyle, Freeman) had the fast qualifying time of 3:30.44 and 1:33.86 respectively; while Cade Harshbarger had the second fastest time in the 110 hurdles, 15.95 and 300 hurdles, 39.78.
Newton’s Cameron Stine advanced in both the 110 hurdles, 15.95; and 300 hurdles, 42.19; while Russia’s Michael Ditmer and Lee Magoto both advanced to the finals in the 400 in 51.53 and 52.57 respectively.
Houston’s 1,600 relay (Dakota Francis, Jacobs, Freistuhler, Knouff) advanced to the finals in 3:30.67.
Covington girls had the fast qualifying time in both the 800 relay (Rayna Horner, Tori Lyle, Morgan Lowe, Breanna Kimmel) and 1,600 relay (Paige Boehringer, Lowe, Horner, Breanna Kimmel) in 1:44.85 and 4:02.34.
Horner had the fastest time in the 400, 57.85; and Breanna Kimmel advanced in the 100, 12.89. The 400 relay (Macie White, Lyle, Lowe, Breanna Kimmel) advanced in 51.13.
Lehman Catholic’s Alanna O’Leary had the fast time in the 200, 25.91; teamed with Lauren McFarland, Lindsey Magoteaux and Riley McIver for the fast time in the 400 relay, 50.42; and advanced to the finals in the 400, 60.13.
Magoteaux advanced in the 100, 12.79; and McIver advanced in the 300 hurdles, 48.45.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.