River’s McCullough set for two finals

COLUMBUS – The chase for the coveted Ohio State Track and Field Championship has reached its final day.

And there are still a handful of area individuals and relay teams still in the mix after the first day of the annual Ohio High School Athletic Association State Track and Field Championship meet at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University Friday afternoon.

Action resumes this morning at 9:30 with remaining Division II field events and Division III running finals. The Division II running finals get under way at 1 p.m.

The area’s Division III delegation was small, but it proved to be a quality field as the majority are returning to the oval this morning with visions set on the podium.

River senior Cassidy McCullough will try to complete her prep track and field career in style. The defending state champion in the 300-meter low hurdles will seek a repeat in her specialty and also compete in the 100 meter dash final.

In the lows, McCullough ran away from the field to win her semi-final heat and earn an automatic spot in the finals. She skimmed the eight hurdles in 45.06.

That time seeds McCullough second in the race, trailing only Covington’s Jackie Siefring, who finished third in the state last spring for Russia. Siefring ran a 44.58.

In the 100, the West Virginia Wesleyan-bound McCullough didn’t get out of the blocks well, but turned on the jets and snuck into the final with the a time of 12.61, which ties her for seventh in the final.

After running the challenging lows and with less than 20 minutes of rest, McCullough failed to qualify for the 200 meter dash. She posted a 27.07 in the semifinals.

Barnesville’s Jacob Anderson continued his dream season and earned a spot in the final 300 intermediate hurdle race of the season and his prep career.

Anderson, a first-time state meet participant, ran like a seasoned veteran in his specialty on the state’s biggest stage. He cleared eight hurdles in 39.24 to finish second in his heat and earn an automatic trip to the finals.

Anderson, who is headed to West Liberty, will run from lane six this morning in the state championship race with the third-best time in the field. He trailed only Warren JFK’s Chad Zallow, who he finished second to at last week’s regional, and Columbus Academy’s John Lint.

Martins Ferry’s lone girls event earned a return trip for today barely. The Lady Purple Riders’ 4×2 team of Sarah Applegarth, Sunshine Wrenn, Ashley Griffith and Talyr Jenkins posted a 1:48.27 to earn the ninth – and final – berth in the 4×2 final.

Steubenville Central had its usual strong day of qualifying as the Crusaders’ trend of performing well on the big stage continued.

The Crusaders’ lone male entrant, Doug Maslowski, will compete in the state final of the high hurdles for the second straight season. After finishing second last year, Maslowski posted a 14.84, despite clipping the 10th hurdle and nearly falling. He owns the sixth-best mark.

The Lady Crusaders featured Monica Rigaud in the high hurdles. She earned a trip to the finals by posting a 15.28, which is third best in today’s field.

Steubenville Central’s three sprint relays – the 4×1, 4×2 and 4×4 – all survived to run another day.

All three teams are comprised of Michaela Gotta, Rigaud, Kara Kakascik and Taylor Zapolnik. The 4×1 sits fifth after running a 51.05. The 4×2 is fifth with a 1:46.62. And the 4×4 squad is seventh with a 4:06.08.

The Lady Crusaders actually got on the board Friday afternoon thanks to junior high jumper Moriah Vosteen, who finished eighth in the high jump with a 5-2 clearance.

Also slated to run today is Shadyside senior Tara Tollett. The Ohio University signee is the defending state runner-up in the 3200 meters and will seek to improve on that today.

Bridgeport sophomore Briana Massey also didn’t reach the state final in the 200 meters after qualifying for the second straight season. She ran a 26.99 in her semi-final heat.

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timeskleaderonline.com