Statements Made, Records Broken; #TeamOhio on the Big Stage

David Nguyen and Kailey Zagst

It's been a week now since the Ohio natives made the trek to various parts of the United States to take part in different national championships; New Balance National, adidas Outdoor Nationals, and Nike Outdoor Nationals.

With those, despite the varying levels of competition and factors given the location, every performance that was ran, jumped, thrown were nothing short of impressive, as #TeamOhio claimed many medals, podium spots, and even a few slots on the Ohio All-Times list.

That being said, we took a handful of performances that stuck out to us from the biggest weekend of the outdoor season.

Photo by KyleSplit

Katie Clute - New Balance Nationals (Championship)

2 Mile Run - 6th

It was bound to happen, and it happened indeed. 

Katie Clute: State Record Holder

Highlighting her weekend was her new state record performance in the Championship 2 Mile, where she set a huge personal best of 10:09.97 for the 3218-meter race, which also had a scorching split of 9:28.24 at the 3000m mark to secure herself 6th place for an All-American spot. This was also against quite the field, made up of names like Gillian Bushee, Lily Guinn, and eventual winner Abby Faith Cheeseman.

Depending on how one perceives it with both converted and enroute times, her 3000m and the conversion down to 3200m, this means that she would own the state record in both of those as well.

She has had quite the progression and career throughout high school, from not even advancing out of the region meet back in 2019, to now winning five individual state championship titles since last fall and topping it off with All-American honors.

With the now Olmsted Falls graduate set to represent the University of Oregon Ducks this upcoming fall, it will be interesting to see how she progresses on the next level.

Photo by Nate Kuntz

Camden Bentley - New Balance Nationals (Championship)

100m Hurdles - 1st

Staying composed through all the rounds of the 100m Hurdles, Camden Bentley brought the crown home to Ohio. She has won multiple state titles throughout her four years but had yet to win a national title. This all changed when she competed on the biggest stage at New Balance Nationals this season. 

From the beginning, she was in contention to win. However, the margin of victory was somewhat unexpected as she went up against the best in the country. While these races can often be separated by hundredths of a second, Bentley was able to take down the field by over 0.2 of a second by running 13.41 in the nation's greatest stacked field. 

Bentley has had herself an impressive career and ending her high school journey on this note will be one to remember. At the OHSAA outdoor state meet these past two years, she has swept the hurdle races very successfully. Alongside this, she has maintained a great amount of consistency winning nearly every hurdle race that she has entered.

Next season, she will continue running at the University of Kentucky and make an immediate impact. The UK women placed 6th at nationals this outdoor season with even more room to grow with new talent.

Photo by John Davern

Juliette Laracuente-Huebner - New Balance Nationals (Championship)

High Jump - 12th
100m Hurdles - 10th
Triple Jump - 4th
Long Jump - 2nd

Finding someone just as good as Juliette Laracuente-Huebner at multiple events is nearly impossible. This past year especially, she has been nothing short of dominant. At both indoor and outdoor state meets this 2023 year, she sweeped every event that she entered into. Even more impressive, winning an indoor title all by herself and then a solo outdoor runner-up title is something that comes few and far between in history. 

At New Balance Nationals, she competed in four events and placed inside the top 15 in each one. Her high jump mark of 5-05.75 placed her 12th in the field. In the 100mH, she placed 10th running 14.19 in the semifinal round. 

Arguably, her most dominant performances came from the triple jump and long jump. In the triple jump, only a few select meets in Ohio offer this event during the outdoor season. She had only done the triple jump one other time this season. However, she jumped to a 4th place finish overall with a mark of 40-10.25w. When Juliette Laracuente-Huebner competed in long jump, she set a new outdoor PR and a near all time PR jumping 20-3.25 and taking a runner-up finish. 

The career that she has had with all of the milestones reached is something that few people can say they have ever done. Although her high school track running has come to a close, we will see a lot more of her at the University of Cincinnati next year. 

Shaker Heights - New Balance Nationals (Rising Stars)

4x200m Relay - 6th

In a final effort this season, the team of Meilani Walker, Mariah Revels, Jennifer Rawls, and Claire Dunn of Shaker Heights ran to a runner-up finish in the 4x200m competition of the rising stars division with a time of 1:42.00. This outdoor season, they ran to a 6th place finish at the OHSAA Division 1 State Meet with a mark of 1:40.40. 

Notably, Claire Dunn won her first state title in the 400m dash with a mark of 54.45, capping off an impressive career. She will continue her career at DePaul University. Meilani Walker has proven to be a well rounded athlete as she has competed in both hurdles and jumps throughout the season. She took 5th place at the OHSAA Division 1 Region 1 - Youngstown meet in long jump with a performance of 17-5. Both Mariah Revels and Jennifer Rawls had successful first high school outdoor seasons and will be ones to watch as they progress through high school.

Photos by John Davern

Olmsted Falls and Westlake - New Balance Nationals (Championship)

4xMile Relay

Two of the top girls distance squads in the state stacked a 4xMile team at New Balance Nationals and came away with impressive top-10 performances. Olmsted Falls took 5th while Westlake was 7th, running 21:03.15 and 21:06.43 respectively. 

Olmsted Falls surpassed the 4xMile time that they set earlier in the season which was 21:34.02 at the Olmsted Falls Kiwanis Bulldog Relays. The team of Samantha Goodnough, Aubrey Prada, Rachel Delap, and Katie Clute averaged a 5:23.5 split. 

Katie Clute has been a major contributor all season to the Olmsted Falls team as she won both the 1600m and 3200m titles at this past outdoor state meet. She was also the cross country state champion. At New Balance, she also ran the full two mile in 10:09.97, dipping under the 10:10 mark for the very first time. To say that she has had an impressive high school running career would be an understatement. She will take her running to the collegiate level at the University of Oregon next year.

Samantha Goodnough has also had an incredible year. She established marks of 2:15.25 and 5:02.67 in the 800m and 1600m distances this outdoor season. Goodnough has a lot of momentum heading into her final year as she will be one to keep an eye on. Rachel Delap and Aubrey Prada will also be back next year as they will both play key roles in both the cross country and track seasons.

The future really couldn't look much brighter for Westlake. They came into this meet having won the 4x800m relay at the state meet in a time of 9:04.74. At New Balance, they decided to stack for the 4xMile. The team of Maggie Hennessey, Ellie Irvin, Sydney Peer, Sarah Peer shattered their previous season best of 21:55.26 from the Amherst Comet Relays earlier this season. Each member of this team contributed to a 3rd place finish at the OHSAA Division 1 State Meet this past cross country season. Next year, they will be returning 5 of the 7 runners who competed at the state meet.

Sarah Peer returning for her final season is going to be one to watch. She finished second to Clute at the cross country state meet along with the 1600m and 3200m state races this track season. Her career has shown massive improvements thus far and she just keeps getting faster. Peer also entered in the one mile run at New Balanced and placed 12th with a time of 4:46.92. This surpasses any of the 1600m times that she has run. 

Another major contributor to this team has been Sydney Peer who has established marks in the 800m and 1600m run of 2:22.54 and 5:07.25 respectively. Next year, she will be running at the College of Charleston. Ellie Irwin and Maggie Hennessey will also add a lot of depth to the Westlake team as both will return next year. 

Te'aira Branham-Patrick - adidas Outdoor Nationals (National Elite)

100m Dash - 4th
200m Dash - 2nd

Not much can beat two new PR's at a national meet. This is exactly what Te'aira Branham-Patrick was able to do in the 100m and 200m dash. Alongside this, she also placed herself in the top five of the elite division in both races running times of 11.82 and 24.12 respectively. 

Something that stands out about Branham-Patrick has been her massive improvements from last year to this year. In the 2022 outdoor season, she accomplished marks of 12.25 in the 100m and 26.20 in the 200m as personal bests. The steady improvement that she had this season set her up very well for state qualifications that led to All-Ohio in both the 100m and 200m dash this season. 

Elizabeth Poling - adidas Outdoor Nationals (Freshman)
400m Dash - 2nd

Who says that you can't drop over two and a half seconds in your 400m time at nationals? This is exactly what Elizabeth Poling did and it is safe to say that she had herself a race. Already impressive enough, she came out of the OHSAA Division I State Championships this past season with a near All-Ohio finish placing ninth. 

Many may wonder what kind of high school career Poling has developed and the truth is, she is just getting started. Not many would guess that she is a freshman. The performance that she had at Adidas gave her the top spot in the freshmen OH season rankings. The only question remaining is how high will she continue to climb?

Photo by Nate Kuntz

Connor Ackley - New Balance Nationals (Championship)
One Mile Run - 2nd

One last mile...

You've heard his name all year long in Ohio, but it looks like he made himself known beyond those borders now with his stellar performance at New Balance Nationals Outdoors to close out his high school career. Looking back at this year, the Syracuse signee has put on quite a show, winning 5 individual state championship titles since the fall, and pulling off the distance double of the 1600m and 3200m Run during both the OATCCC Division 1 Indoor State Championships along with the OHSAA Division 1 Outdoor State Championships. With that, he stapled himself near the top of Ohio's All-Times list in the 1600m (#5), and eventually the Mile (#8) at New Balance Nationals Outdoor.

Over in Philadelphia last weekend, he was up against some of the very best in the country, with names like Aaron Sahlman, Brian DiCola, Aidan Cox, and eventual winner Devan Kipyego. From the gun, we saw a race tactic from Ackley that some may have seen at the OHSAA Division 1 Outdoor Championships during the 3200m Run; starting out in mid-pack/back and closing like crazy in the latter half of the race.

From the first 409 meters, Ackley was way back in 10th, but still was a part of the chase pack, and moved up 3 places on lap 2 with a huge 2 second negative split off the bat for the splits. Things got interesting in the latter half though, as he held his position until the bell lap, moving up a staggering 5 places, with a scorching close in the last few meters to clinch a second place finish over Marcus Reilly.

Kaleb Nastari - Nike Outdoor Nationals (Championship)
800m Run - 1st

Closing things out on top, and that he did. Nastari has been making noise throughout Ohio for some time now as we all anticipated him breaking the all-division state record in the 800m Run after his consistent slew of 1:50 to sub-1:50 marks in the latter half of the season, eventually solo'ing a 1:48.31 for the record at the OHSAA Division 3 Outdoor State Championships. 

Even with this, Nastari decided that it was not quite how he wanted to end his high school career, as he made the trek all the way to Nike Outdoor Nationals in Eugene, Oregon, and closed out on a fast one; winning the Championship 800m Run with a scorching 1:49.25, splitting near even splits of 54.38 and 54.862 through the 2-lap endeavor.

With this being said though, he is sure to have a bright future in the NCAA at Penn State this fall and onwards, as this is a program that has had quite success with many middle-distance runners with Ohio legend Brannon Kidder in the mix.

Brayden Richards - adidas Outdoor Nationals (Championship)
Decathalon - 1st

The Jack-Of-All-Traits, Brayden Richards. We called it in the preview, and he managed to back us up with some stellar performances at adidas National Outdoors not just with his dominant showing in the decathlon as a whole, but the performances within the individual events as well. 

In the 10 events that he competed in, 6 of those he set personal bests in through the 3 days of competition. Outside of taking first overall when all was set and done, Richards had won 7 of his events, with 9 of them being within the Top-4 positions. With this result, he won the total by almost 200 points.

100m Dash - 10.84 - 897
400m Dash - 49.88 - 820
110m Hurdles - 14.86 - 867
1500m Run - 5:20.61 - 447
Long Jump - 21-4.75 - 702
High Jump - 5-9 - 587
Pole Vault - 14-11.25 - 776
Discus - 128-3 - 646
Javelin - 178-7.75 - 655
Shot Put - 41-7.25 -648

Ben Shields - adidas Outdoor Nationals (National Elite)
2 Mile Run - 1st

There's always a first for everything right, and Ben Shields took home his first national title in the 2 Mile Run at adidas, along with a first (enroute) sub-9:20 3200m split from the full 2 Mile Run, which he ran 9:20.05 for.

Breaking down how his race went, initially, he played it relatively conservative by starting out with the top half of the group, being within the Top-5, slowly moving up the ranks or maintaining his position throughout the 9-minute ordeal. Things started ramping up in the latter half though, as the front-2 started creating separation on the field, which was followed by a gradual surge from Shields going into the final 1200m of the race. 800m left was when he showed his true colors, keeping only a stride or two behind the two that led for a portion of the race, eventually making a decisive move with 425 meters to go and took all the way to the tape.

This performance in the 2 Mile is actually faster than his previous personal best in the 3200m Run from the indoor season, which was previously a 9:25.96.

Outside of this performance, what stands out is that he was undefeated on Ohio soil this up until the state championship qualifying stages in the 3200m, as he ended up taking a third-place spot on the podium at the OHSAA Division 3 State Championships.

Given that he still has one year left of high school, things could potentially get interesting with his progression this year along with now having a national title under his belt.

Photo by John Davern

DJ Fillmore - New Balance Nationals (Championship)

Long Jump - 1st
200m Dash - 3rd

A man on both the track and the field, DJ Fillmore was another Ohioan that made more than one appearance on the podium at New Balance National Outdoors with his performances in both the Long Jump and 200m Dash; two events that he has had major success in this season with a recent OHSAA Division 1 State title in both of these.

Starting with his long jump, if we were to look at the attempts, he actually technically won the title with his very first attempt of 24-7 3/4, which was 3.25 inches over the second place finisher, who jumped 24-5.5 1/2. Forward to the penultimate attempt, he sealed the deal with a new personal best of 25-4 3/4.

To top it off as well, if we were to only take wind legal marks into consideration, he actually owns the state record for the even now, only topping Alex Smith's performance due to the wind readings.

Over on the curve for the 200m Dash, things got tricky with how variable the wind readings were throughout the prelims. For the most part, many had a pretty decent tailwind on their back, but DJ showed his prowess in this event like he has done all season, comfortably making it through as the third fastest seed. Holding steady, after all was set in stone, he ended the weekend with a third place finish and All-American honors in the event.

His high school campaign might be over, but his Ohio campaign isn't, as he is set to represent the Ohio State University Buckeyes next year.