Duo qualify in 2 events each
PICKERINGTON — Sam Bethea was a little bit more than motivated when it came to the 110-meter hurdles Friday night.
The senior’s grandmother was in town for his graduation from Mount Vernon High School and came to watch him in the Division I Regional track meet at Pickerington North. He also struggled with one of his worst days in the high jump, so when it came time to run the hurdles, his blood was pumping pretty strong.
That extra motivation paid off as Bethea won the regional championship, edging Muhammed Fall of Reynoldsburg at the finish line, 14.25 seconds to 14.27. The win also qualified him for next week’s state track meet.
“I needed a little redemption after the high jump,” Bethea said. “I’m pretty excited (about winning). I’m ready to go celebrate with my coaches, my mom and my grandma. She came into town for my graduation and I told her, ‘I’m gonna take it for you. You didn’t come all this way to see my lose.’ So, I had to win.”
Bethea started the race off strong and was first to the hurdles. He maintained a solid lead until hitting the seventh hurdle with his knee. Fall and Evan Matthews of Pickerington North nearly caught him at that point, but Bethea was able to outlean them at the finish line.
“With the hurdles, I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got a pretty good shot at winning.’ So, if I do everything right, all my techniques were on point, I’d take the ‘dub,’” Bethea said.
The Mount Vernon senior will now participate in two events at the state meet at Ohio State — the 110 hurdles and the long jump, where he set the school record with his second-place jump of 22-9 3/4 on Wednesday.
He will be joined at OSU by teammate Cory Berg, who qualified in both the high jump and the 300 hurdles.
Berg finished fourth in the high jump to qualify, clearing 6-foot-4. He advanced because he cleared 6-4 in fewer attempts than Jackson Podraza of Big Walnut and Joel Addo of Olentangy Orange.
“I don’t know if it was nerves or what, but I was feeling kind of shaky today,” Berg said. “I guess coming up to the bar felt good and it all came together on some of the jumps.”
The junior came through in a big way, though, in the 300 hurdles. He broke his own school record, finishing second in 37.06.
Both Berg and Bethea will compete in the preliminary races for the hurdles on Friday at OSU’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Bethea will go first at 5:25 with Berg running at 6:45.
They will then turn their attention to the field events on Saturday. Bethea will jump at noon in the long jump and Berg will participate in the high jump at 3 p.m.
If they qualify in the top eight on Friday, they will race in the finals Saturday beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Senior Delaney Short also participated in the regional event Friday, taking her turn in the pole vault. She cleared 9-foot-0 to finish 14th overall, missing out on a spot at state.
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