BEDFORD - West Branch's Drake Lohnes was only about 60 percent sure he could move on to Columbus, and three quarters of the Salem 4x400 relay team wore green socks for good luck. Uncertainties and superstitions aside, Lohnes and Salem's Austin Noel, Marcus Crittenden, Ryan Bush and Zack Penick joined Anthony Shivers (Salem/discus) and Ciera Trybend (Salem/shot put) as area Division II state qualifiers in regional action Saturday at Bedford High School.
"They're just really tough kids," Salem coach Todd Huda said of his relay squad. "They were very determined to get to state."
The team turned in a time of 3:22.41. Poland took first at 3:20.68. Liberty was second at 3:20.71.
"Marcus and Austin both ran their legs under 50 (seconds) for the first time ever," Huda said. "And Bush and Penick ran great, too."
Now that the team has made it to Columbus, Huda says anything else would be icing on the cake.
"The hardest part is getting there," he said. "We've always gone through the approach with all the kinds we've had that the goal is to get there. Anything from here is just gravy. Now it's time to let it rip."
The Quakers will look to do just that green socks and all - something that's become a tradition this season.
"Austin and Marcus have been wearing them all year," Huda said. "I think they just did it at first to see what my reaction would be. But I like them. They couldn't get Zack to do it but he finally put them on today. Bush hasn't worn them all year and was superstitious but said he would if they made it to state. We'll see what he puts them on next week."
West Branch's Drake Lohnes came into the day confident and now looks to take things a step further in the 3200 after qualifying with a third-place finish at 9:51.23.
"I was kind of sure I could make it," Lohnes said hesitantly.
The West Branch junior said he felt he stacked up pretty well with the rest of the competition, but knew it would be difficult.
"I thought if I could run under a 10 I would have a good shot," he said. "I ran a 9:46 last year so it's still not my best time. I still feel really confident, and I feel good at this point of the season. I want to finish top eight for sure and beyond that just as high as I can."
Salem's Anthony Shivers, already a qualifier in the discus, took seventh in the shot put (41-01.75).
Huda says Shivers has been consistently stellar all season, and the Salem junior's throws have been among the best in the state in any division. "I don't expect anything different from him," Huda said. "He wants to go win it all."
Zack Wukotich wrapped up a solid season in the high jump with an appearance in the regional finals and an eighth-place finish (6-2). Bush also qualified in the high-jump and finished tied for ninth.
"They both did what they've done all year," Huda said. "There were just a couple kids that did a little better. I'm very pleased with what they did all season."
Scott Lodge and Caleb Quinn also concluded a good season in the 300 and 100-hurdles with a pair of eighth place finishes. Lodge finished in 42.25 and Quinn 15.91.
Trybend nearly qualified in the discus with a sixth-place finish (125-0). She already qualified Thursday in the shot put.
"I like it here," she said. "I think I did pretty well. Last year I didn't even make it to the finals (in shot). Now I want to place."
Salem's Megan Lehwald finished a good year in the long jump in the Bedford finals. She finished 13th at 15-07.5.
West Branch's Andrew Filp just missed a state berth in the shot with a throw of 47-11.5 to take fifth place. The fourth-place throw was 48-08.5 by Addison Agler of Hubbard.
Division II field events will kick off the state meet at 9:30 a.m. Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at The Ohio State University. Preliminaries will continue throughout the day and finals will conclude on Saturday.
E-mail B.J. Lisko at firstname.lastname@example.org