The Buchtel and Twinsburg girls track and field teams are each in an envious position heading into the state meet.
With an abundance of talented sprinters, the Griffins and the Tigers will enter Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Friday as legitimate contenders to hoist a team state championship trophy on Saturday in Division II and Division I, respectively.
Such a lofty goal is not far-fetched after Buchtel finished second to Beachwood in Division II last year and Twinsburg tied with Lancaster for second behind only Gahanna Lincoln in Division I.
Twinsburg and Buchtel each scored 31 points in 2018. Can the Summit County teams score more points this year?
Sizing up Twinsburg
The Tigers advanced eight runners to Columbus in seniors Nya Bussey, Julia Henderson, Brionna McDonald, Mariah Myles and Nia Robinson, junior Alyssa Willis and freshmen Akira Johnson and Rana Thornton.
“All the credit in the world goes to our sprint coaches, Dalanda Jackson and Derek McKinley,” Twinsburg coach Sarah Kmet said. “They do an incredible job with the girls year around and the older kids continue to develop. Every year they get better, and the younger kids are learning and being around that culture they have already gained big meet experience to keep that momentum moving forward.
“These are all good kids and 3.0 or higher type of students. ... The depth is impressive and we are not talking about like they barely qualified — they are looking to win their events this weekend. These girls have broken every school record we have in the sprint category multiple times over.”
Willis, Myles and Robinson joined 2018 Twinsburg graduate Camari Griffin to win last year’s Division I 800-meter relay state title in 1:39.19.
“All of the seniors hope to PR, break school records and hopefully get some W’s in each of our events,” said Robinson, a Cornell recruit.
“Everyone is way more confident in themselves and their abilities.”
Bussey, an Ohio State recruit, is making her fourth state meet appearance.
“I come into the meet with experience, but I take it day by day each year,” said Bussey, who is entered in the 100, 800 relay, 200 and 1,600 relay.
“I have to stay focused and do my best.”
Myles is an Eastern Michigan recruit and Henderson is a Mount Union recruit.
“We are all in this to win it,” Myles said. “Over the past years we have built up to this, so we are ready for it.”
Willis is entered in the 100, 800 relay, 400 relay and 200, and wants to send the seniors off atop the podium at OSU.
“We work very hard in practice, and we have a purpose for every single practice and every single meet,” Willis said. “We are always trying to PR or break any records. Whatever track we step on, there is a goal to win and PR.”
Said Jackson: “These kids are truly like a family. Sometimes you don’t get along, but at the end of the day they all still love each other and they are going to do what is best for each other.”
Sizing up Buchtel
The Griffins advanced seven runners to Columbus in seniors Dana Beasley, London Green, Dyamond Myers and Rayannah Torrence, junior Drew Oliver and freshmen DaMya Barker and Tayonia Whitaker.
Buchtel coach Orlando Green said sophomore Nevaeh Lewis is returning from injury and will be in the mix on relays.
“I was talking with [former Buchtel] coach John Scott and he told me that London and Dyamond are the first girls in Buchtel track history to qualify for the state meet four years in a row,” Griffins coach Orlando Green said.
“The leadership from the seniors is incredible. ... They always do what is necessary to help the other kids on the team. It is a bittersweet time. This is the first group that I have had since I became the head coach.”
Lewis, London Green, Oliver and Myers teamed up to win last year’s Division II state title in the 800 relay in 1:42.60.
“I am very excited about going down to Columbus,” said London, the coach’s daughter. “I think that we are going to do pretty well. We have been working really, really hard, and just the fact that most of us our seniors, we want to win again.”
Torrence is back in the fold this season after suffering a torn Achilles last season.
“I watched my teammates last year and they got good places and they became a better team,” Torrence said. “This year, I hope we can do what we did last year and even better. We want to take it home and work together as a family.”
Myers is entered in the 800 relay, 400 relay, 200 and 1,600 relay. Barker, a hurdler and relay runner, said she is “excited” and “ready to embrace this great opportunity.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at email@example.com.