The Press Newspaper
Garrett Ondrus was the last 110-meter hurdles man standing at the state track and field meet in Columbus.
That’s considering only his qualifying time at the Division I regional meet, not his performance at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium over the weekend.
Ondrus, a Clay senior and the school's 2009 James F. O'Brien winner, given to the school's best male athlete, took the fourth and final qualifying spot last Saturday at the Division I regional meet in Amherst. Ondrus clocked in at 14.89 seconds.
It was his best time of the season in that event. This year will be Ondrus' first and last time competing at the state meet.
"He was the City League champion as a junior, and a regional qualifier," Clay coach Scott Wamer said. "This year he got beat by Erik Kynard from Rogers and he took second at districts."
"Garrett is a worker," Wamer said. "He's gotten everything through hard work. All 16 (state qualifiers) are running in the 14s (seconds), so in that race, anything can happen. Garrett is such a competitor. If he runs well, he's going to make it. If he hits a couple hurdles in that race, you're going to be out of it. If he's clean, he's got a chance."
Clay also qualified its 4x800 relay to Columbus after placing fourth (7:55.66) at last week's regional. The senior foursome of John Zam, Matt Row, Eric Holmes and Frankie Kouts turned in a season-best time and broke a 15-year-old school record in the process.
The Eagles' two alternates on that relay are senior Neil Booth and sophomore Bobby Hoffman.
"We went pretty much six deep on that relay," Wamer said, "so I mixed and matched them for quite a while."
Wamer said he had to convice Zam, who was more of a 400 runner, to move up to running the 800 this season.
"John has a lot of guts," the coach said. "He had a key leadoff leg at the regional, and that was huge for us. John was sick at the City League championships and didn't run at districts, so our fifth guy got us to regionals."
Row and Kouts are in their first year running track.
"They're fun and they're competitors," Wamer said. "They just beat each other up at practice every day. They cannot stand losing to each other. What makes Matt nice for us in that second leg is he does not like to be behind. If we don't have a lead, he'll do everything he can to get it.
"The nice thing about Frankie is, most of the year we were beating teams pretty bad and Frankie learned how to run on his own, without anybody to run down. I had him anchor for the first time at regionals, just because of his competitive nature. He can close that last 100 meters pretty well, and I think it paid of for us."
Wamer called Holmes, who has run the third leg on the relay pretty much all season, "Mr. Consistency."
The Eagles have one of the top eight state qualifying times, and Wamer said the relay team's goal is to make first-team All-Ohio. That includes the top eight state placers in each event.
"Clay High School has never had a relay team make first-team All-Ohio and they want to be the first," Wamer said. "I like their chances. They are four senior guys and this is their last event in high school. They've been practicing very hard and they know what they have to do. Personally, I think they're going to go out there and do it."
Row, Holmes, Kouts and Ondrus all have earned academic All-Ohio honors in track and field. Student-athletes must have a 3.5 GPA to qualify.
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