On January 27, Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCCC) President Doug Joy announced that the traditional end-of-season State Championship would be replaced by the Indoor Finale. This was due to the fact that many usual high school indoor track and field meets were not held this season in light of COVID-19.
Although the Indoor Finale is not a 'State Championship,' the meet will still be contested by some of the state's best athletes and will produce some of the best races and field event competitions of the year.
Here are a collection of the top athletes to watch out for in the Division 2/3 meet, which will be held on Friday at the SPIRE Institute.
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A three-time state champion in the long jump, Floriea enters Saturday's event one of the most decorated athletes and will look to add a few more big victories to her resume in multiple events. Floriea is the clear favorite in the long jump at the Indoor Finale, carrying wins from the SPIRE Scholastic Showcase and Ohio Championship Preview, but will also compete in the 60m and 200m dash events. Winning three of her five showings this indoor season in the 200m, Floriea is a real threat to win that event as well.
Entering Saturday as the top 60m hurdle performer in the state, Siyoum will be searching for his ninth victory of the season, which includes wins at the SPIRE Scholastic Showcase, Ohio Championship Preview, and a 4th place finish at the VA Showcase. Seeded at 7.87, Siyoum will be chasing Ayden Owens' (North Allegheny) SPIRE Institute HS record, which was set in 2018 at 7.71. Siyoum will also be competing in the 200m, an event he placed 2nd at the Chieftain Vader Classic.
One of the most must-see matchups on Saturday will come during the 400m dash. Martino is coming off a second place finish at adidas Indoor Nationals, where he clocked his first ever indoor sub 48 second performance. The other half of Pickerington North's two-headed sprint monster, McElroy will certainly challenge Martino in the 400m, which should make for an excellent race. McElroy is also seeded first in the 200m, which he placed 3rd at the SPIRE Scholastic Showcase, and will be a threat to win both events.
The top seed in the 800m and 1600m events, Monesmith will look to complete a competitive double against some of the best girls in the state. Monesmith owns a victory in the 800m at the NEOITC All Star Scholastic and also a 3rd place finish in the 1600m at the Ohio Championship Preview and will be the girl to beat in both events.
Entering Saturday with the OH No. 1 in the 3200m, Clute will look to lower her personal best of 10:33.03 and chase Audrey Belf's (Birmingham Seaholm) seven year old SPIRE Institute HS record in the event, which is set at 10:26.9. The sophomore standout owns wins from the SPIRE Scholastic Showcase and is the clear favorite for Saturday's 3200m event.
Seeded within the top 5 of all three distance races, Karas stands a great chance of winning an event on Saturday. Karas owns the top time in the state in the 1600m, which came when he won the Ohio Championship Preview. Karas has also run an impressive 1:55.02 in the 800m, which sits just behind Alex Justus' (Kings) 1:54.0 seed time. It would be surprising to see Karas run in all three events on Saturday, but count on Karas competing for the win regardless of the race.
The boys 3200m race should be among some of the best races at Saturday's meet. Carney enters the Indoor Finale with the fastest time in the 3200m, running a 9:04.88 and placing 3rd at the SPIRE Scholastic Showcase whereas Nathan Moore enters with the second fastest time, running a 9:10.41. However, the last time the two raced, Moore won the OHSAA Cross Country State Championship while Carney finished 12th. Carney is scheduled to run in the 1600m as well, which could add more intrigue to this already jam-packed 3200m race.
Entering Saturday's event, Collier owns the OH No. 1 in the long jump, which includes a victory at the OATCCC Sprint Night and 8th place finish at the VA Showcase. Collier will be the athlete to beat in the long jump while also competing in the 60m hurdles. Collier finished 3rd in the event at the OATCCC Sprint Night.
Rimac enters Saturday's meet the runaway favorite in the weight throw, having thrown 5 feet further than the next best entry. In the shot put, Rimac is seeded second behind Gabe Hickman (Turpin), but holds a head to head victory over Hickman when he won the event at the SPIRE Scholastic Showcase.
Gahanna Lincoln Girls Relays
The Gahanna Lincoln relays will look to score their team a lot of points in the three relay events on Saturday, which includes a state leading 4x400m team. The 4x200m relay is also in contention to win, seeded second just behind Watterson. Joi Bradley is slated to compete on both relay teams for the Lions and potentially bring home two big victories.
* Note: When we refer to points, while there will not be official team scoring at this year's meet, informally, we know that many coaches and fans will be keeping track.
Good luck to all of the athletes competing!
MileSplit Ohio Student-Athlete Reporter