As far as Eastwood boys track and field coach Brian Sabo is concerned, Derek and Devin Snowden’s mother, Audra, played a big role in the Eagles’ success this season.
The Snowden brothers were a huge factor in the Eagles’ Division II regional championship run last week in Lexington. Both runners will compete this Thursday through Saturday at the Division II track and field championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
“They’re both quiet but, boy, do they work hard,” Sabo said of Derek, a senior, and Devin, a sophomore. “They are kids who just work. They do it 100 percent, no matter what you have them do. You never hear them complain, they just keep going.”
Sabo said he’s impressed with the way the Snowden boys treat each other, their teammates and even opponents. That, the coach said, is where Audra comes into play.
“They are extremely encouraging to others, even non-teammates,” Sabo said. “Devin, in the 300 hurdles race, wishes every guy luck. I’ve heard them talk to guys in their event. Both are very encouraging of the girls on our team. Derek became a captain this year and he’s so encouraging to other kids. It comes from a mom who has raised those boys on, ‘This is how you’re supposed to act, and this is how you will act.’
“They are so encouraging of one another. There is no jealously. The younger one came in last year as a freshman and just beats (Derek). Yet, no jealously. That probably comes from home.”
Devin, 16, was responsible for scoring 33 points at the regional meet, where the top four placers in each event advanced to Columbus. He won the 300 hurdles, ran a leg on the winning 4x100 and 4x400 relays and placed sixth in the long jump. He was 14th in the long jump at last year’s state meet.
“It was a good regional meet,” Devin said. “The rest of the team did great. Me not doing too hot in the long jump, it just gave me more motivation to do well in my other events. It didn’t make me mad, it just made me realize you can be a good athlete in one event most of the time, but times will come when you’re not doing so hot and you just have to push through it.”
Devin, who had long-jumped more than 21 feet in every meet this season, jumped a disappointing 20 feet, 6.5 inches at the regional.
“The long jump sparked him in the other three events,” Sabo said. “He hasn’t jumped in the 20s all year, and that’s what he jumped at regionals. He was in the 21s and 22s all year. It lit a fire under him.”
The Eagles’ state-qualifying 4x400 relay will consist of juniors Gabe Fredericks and Joey Salinas and Derek and Devin Snowden. The 4x100 relay will consist of senior Isaiah Conkle, Devin Snowden, sophomore Brennan Seifert and junior Steven Bruning.
Conkle also qualifed to state in the 100 dash after placing third at regionals, while sophomore teammate Tim Hoodlebrink will be in the 800 after taking second in Lexington. Hoodlebrink ran the second best 800 time (1:54.13) in school history.
“That guy was impressive,” Sabo said. “Last year’s state champion in the 800 finally passed him with 15 meters to go, and Tim’s only a sophomore. He’s just running times that sometimes a sophomore shouldn’t be running right now.”
On the girls’ side, Eastwood senior Aricka LaVoy will compete in the long jump after taking third at the regional meet.
The Snowden brothers are both confident heading down to the state meet. One thing is for sure: they will be rooting for each other.
“We’re competitive,” said Derek, 18. “When it comes down to it, to team sports, the team and the family aspect is more important. When we were little, it wasn’t like this. We fought all the time. When we were both in middle school we both connected through sports. He would come out to my stuff and watch, and I would watch his stuff.”
Devin said he and his brother make a competition “out of everything.”
“It lightens up the atmosphere a little bit, not putting pressure on one particular thing,” Devin said. “You’re just going out and having fun with your brother. I just go out and do the best I can.”
Derek was the Northern Buckeye Conference Co-Player of the Year as a center defender for the Eagles’ soccer team last fall and will play at Owens Community College next fall. He said he wishes he had qualified to state in more than one event, but in reality he is just happy to get there in the 4x400.
“I hope we can at least get on the podium,” Derek said. “If not, I’m not going to beat myself up over it, but it would be nice.”