State champions return for new challenges at season opener in Newark

NEWARK — Spring is a time of renewal, albeit with often chilly weather as a caveat, and the 10-team Newark Invitational on Saturday provided a starting point for not just state champions, but newcomers as well. promising.

Heath senior Huntyr Butler (110 high hurdles) and Licking Valley junior Reagan Campbell (400) opened their bids to step onto the Division II podium again, this time at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Stadium. Meanwhile, Heath senior All-Ohioan Kennedi Bailey is looking to add the outdoor title to his 2022 indoor championship in the shot put.

Campbell won her specialty in :59.17 at the Evans Athletic Complex, but it wasn’t as easy as it looked, and she likes it.

“I just wanted to get through that one,” she admitted. “I actually walked some distance this year to build up my endurance. I’m considering trying the 800 and maybe even the 200. I want to push myself and my teammates. My seniors of the year I miss the last one and I was training with the boys.”

Licking Valley junior Reagan Campbell leads the anchor leg of the 800 relay at the Newark Invitational on Saturday, April 2, 2022. Campbell then ran a time of 59.17 to win the 400.

Butler was just a tenth of a second off Heath’s school record of :14.5 with his :14.51 hurdles high in 2021, but showed on Saturday he has some way to go to get back there. He clocked :15.09 and finished third and sixth in the 300 hurdles, but also anchored the 4×100 relay of Daylen McIntire, Brayden Bayles and Riley Gould to a second-place finish in :46.25.

He had surgery after injuring his shoulder in football and missing the offseason, but he’s literally getting back on track.

“I was just trying to get all the nerves out today. I didn’t run my race at the end,” he said of the high hurdles. “I still think I can get it (the school record). One hundred percent.”

Heath senior Kennedi Bailey competes in the shot put during the Newark Invitational on Saturday April 2, 2022. Bailey threw 42ft 9in to win the event.

Bailey shot 44-8.5 to win the national indoor title, and made it known on Saturday that she was also a threat outside. After going 41-6 in taking fourth place in the state last year, his 42-9 was an outdoor personal best. She also won the disc with 129-10, while Newark junior Sophie Bidwell, a returning Division I qualifier, finished second with a PR of 126-6.

“(Assistant Coach Jeff) Sheets and I worked for a while, with Coach (Eric) Marinacci,” Bailey said. “Me and the rest of the team practiced a lot before that. I felt confident it was going to be a decent day, but it’s going to take a lot of focus and careful technique to get where I want to be.”

Newark senior Gwen Stare is also striving for a podium finish, following her fifth-place finish in the Division I 800 meters last year. She ran a winning time of 2:24.48 on Saturday, but wasn’t entirely satisfied. “I was actually faster last year (in his track debut) and that’s definitely not where I want to be,” she said. “I want to grow and progress, and be stronger than last year.”

Stare may have been a bit distracted, waiting for sophomore brother Ethan’s track debut, in the same event. He didn’t disappoint, nearly catching Mount Vernon’s Matt Salvacci with a powerful kick. Salvacci choked out Stare 2:03.13 to 2:03.42.

She didn’t need to give her little brother much advice. “I told him, ‘do your run,'” she said. “He’s strong, shares that drive and has worked hard in training. I’m so proud of him.”

“That first lap was a bit fast, and I was worried, but then coach (Marc) Montella yelled at me at 200 meters and said ‘you have to go!’ says Ethan. “It’s something I will always remember, and I wouldn’t be here if Gwen wasn’t racing on the track.”

Wildcat junior Isaiah Potter ran a:40.17 PR to place third in a strong field of 300 hurdles. “He placed sixth in the region, and the top two were ahead of him,” Montella said. “He was also able to do 3 steps in the treble. He really worked.” Newark’s Orryan Whitner was third in shooting at 42-5.75.

Bishop Watterson won the women’s title on Saturday with 138 points to 102 by second-placed Thomas Worthington. Granville was sixth at 43, Newark seventh at 41, Heath eighth at 34 and Valley ninth at 33. Watterson’s Sydney Workman set a meet record of 25.96 in the 200.

Heath junior Allie Dunlap, a returning state qualifier, cleared 10-0 to capture the pole vault.

Granville's Kylee Lescas senior runs in the 100 during the Newark Invitational on Saturday, April 2, 2022. Lescas ran a time of 13.48 to take second place.

Granville senior Kylee Lescas won the final 100m run in 13.48, but Mount Vernon’s Amaris Middleton ran a PR:12.96 in the previous run to claim the title.

“I just wanted to get my start, go fast, see good times and race with good competition,” Lescas said. “I didn’t run too many 100s last year. I’d like to see us get a better spot in the state in the 4×100 and qualify for the state in the 200.”

Her teammate Catriona Sproul was second in the 400 in 1:03.69. Reese Osborn of Licking Valley was second in shooting at 36-11.5.

Thomas Worthington was the boys’ champion with 146.5 points to runner-up Big Walnut’s 128. Newark was fifth at 49, Granville sixth at 34, Heath eighth at 32 and Valley 10th at 22.5.

Newark senior Orryan Whitner, right, celebrates his 42-foot-5.75 throw in the shot put with junior teammate Sean Lee during the Newark Invitational on Saturday, April 2, 2022. Whitner placed third in the event and Lee a finished third in the disc.

It was a big day for Granville senior Gavin Wells. He threw the first flight of the shot put, but won with a PR of 46-9.25, bettering his previous best throw by more than a foot and a half. He also finished second with a PR of 117-10 on disc. Newark’s Sean Lee finished third at 115-4.

“That kind of shocked me. It was a big jump,” Wells said of his shot put. “I spent a lot of time in the weight room and put my nose to the grindstone in training. I know I can. I think I can do the regional for sure.”

Licking Valley’s Rylan Felumlee was just three seconds off the 1600, finishing third in 4:35.83. Teammate Cooper Hornfeck tied for third in the pole vault at 11-0.

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