Bassitt Is State Hurdle Champion, Boys’ Track Team Earns Fourth

   Ohio’s state track and field meet in Columbus is always an exciting culmination of the track season, and the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium is a thrilling venue for the event. This year’s meet did not disappoint the multitude of Bluffton fans who gathered in Columbus last weekend to watch many extremely talented high school athletes compete. For an astounding 44th consecutive year, Bluffton High School sent a contingent to Columbus and each athlete competed in top form, performing at or above his personal record (PR) coming into the meet.
   Trevor Bassitt became a two-time state champion in the hurdle events by winning the 300-meter hurdle race. He also took state runner-up in the 100 hurdles. The boys’ 4x800 relay came from behind to earn a sixth-place finish and a spot on the podium. These point-earning efforts propelled the Pirates to a fourth-place state team finish with 21 points, tied with Grandview Heights. East Canton won the state Division III boys’  team competition. “The boys’ team placing fourth at state is just fantastic,” said Head Coach Bill Theisen. “We worked hard all season, and it was great to see it pay off. Bluffton has a solid history of track, and we are very proud to keep the tradition going.”
   Bassitt ended his phenomenal high school track career at the top, earning the title of Division III State Champion in the 300 hurdles and state runner-up in the 100m hurdles. He added gold and silver medals to the gold medal he earned last year as state champion in the 100 hurdles. For his first race of the day on Saturday, Bassitt came into the 110 hurdle event having qualified for the finals with the second fastest preliminary time. He ran a fast, clean race with a PR time of 14.26 seconds, but was nudged out of first place by Smithville’s Cole Smith. They crossed the finish line in a near photo finish, Bassitt just a mere six-hundredths of a second behind Smith.
   Later in the morning, Bassitt ran the 300 hurdle race. He came into this race with the top preliminary time of 38.92 seconds. It was a race that again came down to the finish. Bassitt and Grandview Heights’ Jordan Beight were nearly even coming into the final hurdle when Beight hit the last hurdle and stumbled. Bassitt crossed the wire first by more than half a second, with a new Bluffton High School record time of 37.94 seconds. In a exemplary display of sportsmanship, Bassitt immediately turned to help Beight up at the finish line before celebrating his own victory.
   “Trevor has been racing strong all season, and it was nice to see him finish his career by winning state and breaking the school record in the 300 hurdles,” said Coach Theisen. “Trevor has done a great job as one of the leaders on the team this year, helping to keep the team pumped, focused, and ready to compete,” he added.The boys’ 4x800 relay team ran its race on Friday, the first day of competition. The team of Isaac Andreas, Baylor Garmatter, Antony Kingsley, and Christopher Harnish came into the race with the 13th fastest time. Though they were five places out of medal contention, they came to compete and placed sixth with a time of 8:09.92. Harnish passed three competitors on the final lap to give fans a thrilling end to the race and the team a place on the podium. It was another amazing effort by this talented group of young men where the team cut more than seven seconds off of last week’s regional seed time that was nearly already twelve seconds faster than their district time two weeks ago. Each runner ran a PR split for the eight-lap state race with Garmatter dropping significant time during his leg of the event.
   During the second half of the track season, Luke Young ran with the relay in place of an injured Kingsley. Young ran well at the district and regional meets and helped the team qualify for state. Logan Rhodes also competed well with the team during the season, and both athletes were ready as alternates at the state meet, if needed.
   “The 4x800 started off strong this season with three returning runners from last year’s fourth-place state finish,” reflected Coach Theisen. “However, Kingsley’s foot injury in the middle of the season slowed them down and put pressure on the newer runners to perform. I think winning conference gave them some hope, and having Luke Young step in as an alternate and run well at districts and regionals made a big difference. Everyone had their best performance at state which allowed us to go from being ranked 13th going into the race to finishing sixth overall.”
   Kaleb Jefferson had a fantastic end to his junior track season at the state meet where he competed in the high jump. He placed ninth in the competition, just one place out of medal contention. At regionals, Jefferson jumped his way to a state-qualifying and PR height of 6 feet, 1 inch. The state competition began at a height of 5-10, Jefferson’s season PR going into the regional meet just one week prior to the state meet. Nevertheless, Jefferson cleared the state meet’s opening height of 5-10 on the first attempt and also cleared the second height of 6-0 cleanly on the first attempt. He leaped to a new PR height of 6-2 on the second attempt to keep him alive in the competition. He was unable to clear 6-3.
   This year was Jefferson’s first season with the high jump event. “Kaleb worked hard all track season and did well in the sprints and long jump,” explained Coach Theisen. “It was quite a surprise to see him place fourth at districts and qualify for regionals in the high jump,” he added. “Then after a week of practice, Coach Ribley was able to help Kaleb qualify for state when Kaleb set a new personal best at regionals. At state, he set another personal best and ended up placing ninth in the state. It is simply amazing how talented Kaleb is.”
   The state meet wrapped up very successful seasons for the boys’ and girls’ track teams. “Both boys’ and girls’ teams were led by a strong senior class,” reflected Coach Jeff Baker. “The boys’ team had an outstanding season. They finished runner-up in several invitationals and were crowned Northwest Conference Champions. The girls’ team was hurt by some mid-season injuries but was able to finish third in the conference meet. Several school records were broken this year and many PRs were set throughout the season,” he added.
   Though the spikes are put away until another season arrives, coaches and athletes are already looking ahead to next year. “Hopefully, everyone continues to work hard in the off season and we can get some new faces to come out to be ready for another great year next season,” Baker concluded.