By JAMIE BAKER
The tradition of excellence continues in the field events for Columbus Grove.
The Bulldogs’ talent in the jumps and throws will be on display Friday when the OHSAA Division III state track and field championships get underway at Ohio State‘s Jesse Owens Stadium.
Columbus Grove won’t have any competitors on the track, but the Bulldogs will have four athletes competing in five field events in Columbus.
Senior Dylan Vogt, a returning third-place finisher in the discus, will compete in both throwing events. He has the third-best qualifying throw in the discus (164-1) and is ranked second in the shot put (55-91/4).
Sophomore Tyler Wolfe has the top pole vault mark at 15-4 and junior Luke Kohls’ regional jump of 6-4 ties him for ninth-best of the 16 competitors in the high jump.
In the girls portion of the meet, sophomore Riley Eversole ranks eighth in the high jump at 5-3.
Time will tell whether one of those four athletes will be the next in a long line of state field event champions from Columbus Grove?
A stroll around Clymer Stadium, though, tells the story. The school recently put up signs honoring the school’s numerous state track champions.
Dating back to Dan Maag’s 1956 Class B state championship in the boys high jump, Grove athletes have captured 11 state championships in the field events.
They have been especially dominant in the discus and in the pole vault. The Bulldogs have collected seven titles in the discus and three in the pole vault.
“If you come to our track on a Sunday afternoon in the months of June and July there will be four, five or six kids out there throwing and there will be the same number out there pole vaulting,” Columbus Grove boys track coach Chris Grothaus said. “It’s kind of contagious. It’s a laid-back atmosphere and the kids just enjoy doing it.”
The Bulldogs also have a unique coaching situation that has contributed to their success. Most schools may have one or two coaches who take care of all the field events. At Columbus Grove, each field event has its own coach.
“Our coaching is outstanding. I coach the long jumpers, Mike (Broadwolf) coaches the high jumpers, Bob (Baxter) coaches the pole vaulters and Rick (Maag) the shot and disc. Everthing is covered and we coach the junior high field events, too,” Grothaus said.
“We start them off doing all the right things to be successful at the junior high level. We’re not trying to step on the junior high coaches’ toes, we just want to make sure the same technique is going to be taught to them from seventh to 12th grade.”
Certainly the school’s past success plays a role. Grove graduates Cory Meuleman and Blaine Maag threw for Ashland University in the NCAA Division II national championships last weekend.
Another Grove grad, Heath Nickles, pole vaults for Ohio State. He’ll be joined on the Buckeyes next season by Vogt.
“Rick has a throwing camp and he brings back those kids who have been state champs and that have thrown in college. The kids see that and that makes them work toward being a state champ,” Grothaus said. “Just looking at the fence and seeing the signs with our state champions listed on it, that’s big, that’s huge.
“It’s the tradition we’ve built over the years at Grove and the kids expect to be successful. When the expectations are that high, kids work hard to try and compete at a high level.”
State Field Event Champions
1956 — Dan Maag, Class B, High Jump (tie), 5-10
1974 — Joe Green, Class A, Discus, 161-4
2002 — Blake Maag, Div. III, discus, 177-8
2003 — Blaine Maag, Div. III, discus, 175-4
2005 — Blaine Maag, Div. III, discus, 178-10
2006 — Cory Meuleman, Div. III, discus 162-0
2007 — Heath Nickles, Div. III, pole vault, 15-4
2007 — Cory Meuleman, Div. III, discus 180-4
2008 — Heath Nickles, Div. III, pole vault, 16-11/2
1983 — Michelle Foltz, Class A, Discus, 135-3
2006 — Jenna Oard, Div. III, pole vault, 11-9