Following the cancellation of the 2020 OHSAA State Championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Ohio will crown state champions for the first time in two years on Friday, June 4th.
As announced earlier this year, the meet will be held at three Central Ohio high schools in place of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, which has been the host site since 2004. The Division I state meet will be hosted by Hilliard Darby, the Division II state meet will be hosted by Pickerington North and the Division III state meet will be hosted by Westerville North.
Through a loaded field, featuring the top track and field athletes in Division III, we have identified four boys and four girls that you should keep an eye on this weekend.
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As one of the few Division 3 boys to win multiple events at their respective regional meets, Duncan enters as one of the most intimidating threats in multiple races this weekend. Duncan, who took home victories in the 110m and 300m hurdles at the Southeastern regional last weekend, has won nine consecutive races in the 110m hurdles, a streak dating back to April 17th.
Duncan's first career appearance in the 300m hurdles came two weeks ago at the Colonel Crawford district meet, which he won. Like the 110m hurdles, Duncan has the potential to do something special in the 300m hurdles and could surprise us even in just his third race in the event.
Fullerton has been on the cusp of winning a state title for some time now, finishing sixth in the 3200m state championship in 2019 and second in the cross country state championships in 2020. Now, following victories in both the 1600m and 3200m distance races at the Southeastern regional, Fullerton's time has finally come and he will be in contention to win both races this weekend.
Following a stellar freshman campaign in 2019, which ended with a 49.14 personal best in the 400m dash at the AAU Junior Olympic Games, it seemed that Talley was set up to have a breakout 2020 campaign. Due to COVID-19, that breakout season had to wait until 2021. This season, Talley has posted some of the best marks in Division III in the 200m and 400m races.
Talley is coming off a victory in the 400m at the Massillon regional this past weekend and will enter this week's state championship race as the favorite in the event. He is also expected to line up for the 200m race, which he placed fourth at the regional meet.
The sprinting events at the Division III boys state championship meet are sure to be among some of the best throughout Central Ohio this weekend and Starcher is another name to keep an eye on. Coming off a victory in the 200m dash and second place finish in the 100m dash at the Southeastern regional, Starcher is another threat to take home a state title this weekend.
You can not have an "Athletes to Watch For" article for Division III without talking about Allison Johnson. Perhaps the most dominant athlete in all of Central Ohio this season, Johnson has won every event she has raced this season, with the exception of one, in all five events she has contested.
Although she owns the fastest times in Division III, Johnson is not competing in the 400m and 3200m dash events this postseason. Instead, Johnson will enter this weekend coming off three victories at regionals in the 800m, 1600m, and 100m hurdle events. In what would be one of the most impressive triples in recent memory, Johnson is the favorite to win two state titles this weekend, but it would not be surprising to see her win three.
Another Division III star, Hartman has been nearly unbeatable this calendar year and has yet to lose in the 100m and 300m hurdles this outdoor season. Hartman, who won the Troy regional hurdle events, is also scheduled to compete in the 200m dash and long jump events this weekend following two second place finishes at the Troy regional as well. Like Johnson, Hartman is slated to have a busy weekend, but will be in contention to walk away with multiple state titles.
Following her historic indoor season, which included multiple facility records and a victory in the pole vault at the D2/3 Indoor Finale, Stimmel has had a dominant outdoor track season, having yet to drop a contest in the 100m dash and pole vault, totaling a combined 25 wins in the two events.
After pocketing victories in the 100m dash and pole vault at the Tiffin regional meet, Stimmel is also scheduled to race in the loaded 100m hurdle event this weekend, following a second place performance at regionals as well.
Searching for her first state championship, Colson enters this weekend's state championship meet undefeated in the discus and shot put competitions. Colson threw at the 2019 state championship meet and finished 12th in the discus competition. This weekend, she enters as the favorite to take home the championship and will have the opportunity to win a second in the shot put competition as well.