By Joe Scalzo
East senior Valentino Sewell embraces the “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” ethos, even if he reluctantly admits he’s got a fair amount of talent himself.
“Yes sir, but there’s a lot of talent here [at the state meet],” Sewell said after placing fourth in the 110-meter hurdles at the Division I competition at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. “I knew I wasn’t the best but I figured if I worked hard in the summer on the 1s [110 hurdles], I’d be blessed and come up.”
Sewell placed ninth last year, the high school equivalent of placing fourth in the Olympics since the top eight make the medal podium.
He said that finish drove him.
“I talk to the Lord all the time and because God is good, he helped me do what I had to do,” he said. “I’m very proud. Only two of us [from East] made state so for me to make it to finals is a good blessing.”
Warren Harding’s 4x100 relay also placed fourth — matching the Valley’s best finish in Division I — and junior Dalyn Gattison said the team came away feeling satisfied.
“We ran as fast as we could,” he said. “We’re not too mad about it. I’m glad we made it as far as we did.”
Fitch sophomore Nathan Bowlen, who anchored the fifth-place 4x200 relay, felt the same way.
“It’s an honor to be down here with all these great teams,” said Bowlen. “It’s an accomplishment just to make it down here, let alone place, so we’ll take it.”
Fitch and Harding both return three of their four relay runners.
“We’re going to grow a lot,” Bowlen said. “We’re going to be even better next year and maybe get a little higher on the platform.”
Boardman sophomore Mark Hadley is taking the same strategy after placing sixth in the 3200. Hadley ran a smart race, staying in the second pack when Reynoldsburg senior Tsehaye Hiluf (who would eventually break the state meet record with a time of 8:55.04) and Tippecanoe junior Sam Wharton (who would have broken the state meet record if Hiluf hadn’t) pulled away.
“It was a great experience,” said Hadley, who finished in 9:16.15 — two-hundredths of a second out of fifth. “I was just happy to be here and the crowd really got me into it.”
When asked what he’d like to do by the time he graduates, Hadley said, “Hopefully win it. I’d like to win eventually and someday break nine [minutes]. That’s my goal.”