Among the Ohio contingent ready to toe the line at this evening's Midsummer Nights Distance Open in Marion, Indiana will be a quartet of 2020 graduates from Madeira High School.
Diego Arredondo, Ben Ramos, Ben Cunningham and Dylan Whitson, representing the Madeira Distance Project, are understandably excited to have an opportunity to step on the track again after several months away from live competition. The teammates and best friends have more in mind than just producing solid marks in their individual competitions, however.
"Our goal race is the 4x800 relay at the AAU Junior Olympics. For tonight, we're looking to get our feet wet before we race in August," said coach Josh Dooley.
Prior to the cancellation of the OHSAA outdoor track and field season, the squad had high hopes and rightfully so. Following an 8th place showing in the 4x800 at the 2019 Division 2 State Meet, the group had their sights firmly set on capturing the school's first ever relay state title during the 2020 edition.
"They competed together over the years and we had great faith that this was our year to take it. We did everything possible in training and all of the workouts we were doing suggested we had a good chance," said Dooley.
Over the past few months things have obviously not played out according to the team's plans, but they've stayed the course with their training and mindset with the hope that they would have an opportunity to compete together one last time.
"After the Ohio season was cancelled, we continued to train in hopes that we'd go to the NSAF Nationals, but that was cancelled, as well. We then channeled our energy toward the AAU Junior Olympics, where we're striving to break our school's record and have their names forever etched at our high school," Dooley said.
By their coaches account, success couldn't come to a better group of young men.
"I hope the guys have solid races and I'm excited to see where they're at. These are some of the greatest athletes and individuals that I've ever had the pleasure of working with," Dooley said.
Arredondo, Whitson and Cunningham will contest the 800 this evening, while Ramos will test himself over 1600 meters on the Indiana Wesleyan University track.
The action is set to commence at 7:30 pm EST and MileSplit will have a full team of contributors on-site to provide results updates, as well as archived race video and photo coverage.