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There was only one goal for all 11 East Canton athletes who competed this past weekend at the 2017 State Track and Field Championships -- winning the school's first state title.
With victories in the first and last events of the weekend, the Hornets claimed the Division III championship with 49 points, 12 points better than second-place Smithville.
"Holding that trophy is a great feeling," stated Head Coach Tom Loy. "I thought we could score 40-45 points and be in the hunt. We scored 49 and accomplished one of our goals coming into this weekend.
"Our relays ran great. This has been a team effort. Everybody contributed to this championship."
East Canton faced a slight obstacle heading into the season -- no track to practice on. The football stadium is going through a major renovation, including a new track.
"Not having a track has been a challenge, but Canton South, Perry and Louisville were gracious enough to allow us the use of their tracks," noted Coach Loy.
In the first boys event on Friday, the 4x800 consisting of sophomore Colt Hemphill, freshman Demetrius Snellenberger, senior James McCullough and junior Josh Conrad won the 16-team race with a time of 7:50.68.
"Being a state champion is amazing," stated McCullough. We have been down here before and got second place, but being on top is a way better feeling. All I had to do was get it to Josh. The Avengers say they have a Hulk. We say we have a Josh Conrad. I knew when I handed the baton to him that he would bring home the win."
"This feels great, but we have a lot more to accomplish," noted a determined Conrad. "We have a game plan and we followed it. We were the best team out there. A 7:50 is a great time. This is what you can accomplish when you have teammates who work hard.
"Our leadoff, Big Ginger, is a stud. Our superstar freshman (Snellenberger) has always been good, but has really come on. And James is a tough kid who has been down here before and has great experience."
The win set the tone for the rest of the weekend, as the Hornets totaled eight top-eight finishes.
In the last event on Saturday and with the team title already secured, the 4x400 consisting of senior Zach McClaskey, freshman Nathaniel Sundheimer, McCullough and Conrad went out and dominated the field with a winning time of 3:21.53.
"This is our strongest event and to finish with a win to cap a team title is very special," commented Conrad. "This is the greatest feeling in the world. But we aren't done. We will be back next year and be even stronger.
"A lot of people don't know this, but we didn't have a track this season due to construction at the stadium. We have been practicing our handoffs on the road every day. We go to Canton South, Perry or Louisville one day a week to practice on a track. But our coaches knew exactly how to handle this obstacle. And here we are -- state champions."
Conrad competed in two individual events at state. His quest for a title in the 800 fell a spot short as he finished second with a school-record time of 1:53.82.
In the high jump, Conrad cleared 6'4 to finish fifth.
This is the third straight year Conrad has medaled at the state meet.
As a freshman in 2015, Conrad finished sixth in the 1600. A year ago, Conrad was second in the 800 and was a member of the runner-up 4x400 along with McClaskey, Kyeem Newell-Owens and McCullough.
All totaled, Conrad has seven state medals, with one more year to go.
Sundheimer, sophomore Cody Vacco, junior Mitch Mitchell and McClaskey earned All-Ohio honors as they finished third in the 4x200 with a school-record time of 1:29.89.
The 4x100 made it 4-for-4 in relay medals as it finished fourth in 43.77. Members are senior Travis Nelson, Vacco, Mitchell and sophomore Wyatt Deutschman.
The senior competed in the 300 hurdles, earning All-Ohio honors as he finished fifth in 39.15.
Mitchell gained valuable team points for the Hornets as he medaled in the 200, placing seventh in 22.38.
He also competed in the long jump, finishing 16th with his best jump of 19'8.5.
The junior finished 13th in the 110 hurdles with a time of 15.63.