PIQUA — Gabriel Staehling became the first Clinton County athlete to qualify for the state track and field meet next week in Columbus.
Staehling, a Blanchester High School senior, finished fourth Thursday in the Division II Region 8 Track and Field Championships here at Piqua High School.
“Special,” Staehling said when asked about making it to the state meet. “At the start of this year, I wanted to break the school record. Wasn’t thinking of state at the beginning of the year.”
The top four finishers in each event are automatic qualifiers to the state meet June 2-3 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium ta Ohio State. In addition, the next two best times or distances statewide in each event will qualify with an at-large berth.
In the girls 100-meter hurdles, Wilmington’s Taliah Billingsley earned a berth in the finals by finishing eighth overall in the prelims. She clocked 16.44.
Madison Schuster ran 11th in the 100 hurdles but did not advance.
Clinton-Massie’s Marty Kreider did not run in the 100-meter dash, opting to focus on the 4×200-meter relay, coach Scott Rolf said.
That move paid off in the preliminaries as the Falcons finished seventh in 1:34.11, despite handoff problems. The quartet consisted of Weston Carpenter, Willem Kimple, Cale Wilson and Kreider.
Wilson then moved on in the 400-meter dash, posting a 50.81 which was good enough for third fastest in the prelims.
Kreider also goes to the finals in the 200-meter dash with a 22.7 second run in the prelims.
Madison Schuster in the 300 hurdles and Ke’Asia Robinson in the shot put competed on Thursday.
Staehling struggled early then popped off a 137-11 throw on his third attempt. That put him fourth going into the final flight.
On a brisk, windy day, Staehling and the rest of the discus throwers were not able to repeat their efforts from last year. Only one of the 16 throwers bettered their district distance.
“I tried to lower it a little so it doesn’t get caught by the wind as much,” Staehling said.
On his next to last throw, Staehling had a throw of 140-8 which helped him secure his fourth place finish and a trip to the OHSAA Division II Track and Field Championships.
“I am … super ecstatic to make it that far,” he said.