By John Bombatch
DAYTON — Three Beavercreek High School track and field standouts earned trips to Columbus next week. Meanwhile, two other Greene County-area athletes came up just short at Friday’s Division I regional track and field championships at Perc Welcome Stadium.
The day started out rough for junior Beavercreek 110-meter hurdler Matthew Riekens, who dove across the finish line only to learn that he’d been nipped out of the fourth and final state qualifying spot by 0.01 second. His right shoulder and elbow had noticeable scrapes after his tumble, but Riekens remained upbeat despite having his junior high school season come to a close.
“I came so close. One one hundredth of a second … Really, I just find that motivating,” Riekens said. “One spot away from going to the biggest meet in the state. That’s a big deal. I do summer track in the decathlon, and this is just going to motivate me even farther to hopefully go out and win a national championship.”
Beavercreek teammates Ben Ewert (in the boys mile run) and girls 800-meter runners Jordan Grant and Stephanie Pierce gave Riekens and the rest of the Beavers team plenty to cheer about.
Ewert kicked into another gear on the backstraight on the final lap and won the boys 1,600-meter run in 4:17.36, which was easily 11 seconds quicker than his district championship time. The Beavercreek junior begged out of doing an interview after his mile win. He had to go run and stay loose for the upcoming boys 3,200-meter run about a half-hour later. He must’ve spent his energy in the mile. Ewert clocked nearly 11 seconds slower at regionals than he had ran at last week’s districts and finished ninth overall.
In the girls 800, Grant finished second (2:15.94) and Pierce was third (2:15.96) and so both Beavercreek girls advanced on to state.
“We weren’t really too concerned with the time we ran, but it was more important for us to get in the top four,” Grant, a junior, said. “The post season is all about racing and competing, so the times are kind of irrelevant. But it’s exciting to be competing and moving on.”
Pierce had reason to also be happy with her time.
“That was my best time, so I’m pretty happy with it,” she said.
The elated pair even took time to clear the runners’ bench area of discarded cups, before leaving the infield to celebrate with their teammates in the grandstand.
Xenia’s Tatum Washington saw her high school track and field career end with a sixth-place finish in the girls 100-meter dash. Matt Bartley, her coach, remained very proud of her after the race.
“Tatum, she ran a great race. She did everything we asked of her. But those girls ahead of her? Man, they were rolling today. The difference between first and sixth was .57 seconds!” Bartley said. “It’s tough when you see a senior go out in their last race like that, especially somebody who really put in a lot of effort for the past four years and has done a great job.
“I told her that I know she’s upset, but not to worry I told her ‘Tatum, this is not the end for you. This is a beginning. It’s a NEW beginning. You’re destined for great things. I’m sure of it.’ “
The OHSAA state track and field championships will take place June 3-4 at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, in Columbus.