By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — At this point, the biggest threat to local athletes reaching the state level this season? May be the weather.
Though the regional competition will be all kinds of tough, as well.
Troy, Tippecanoe, Miami East and Covington all had track teams that finished in the top three overall at last week’s district meets, with too many individual district champions to count. And with the Division I, II and III regional track meets being held at various times from Wednesday to Saturday, the Tippecanoe and Lehman baseball teams will also take their shots at qualifying for the state tournament on Thursday and Friday — but with the spectre of potential thunderstorms hovering over all of it.
The baseball games seems to be at the most risk. Tippecanoe’s D-II regional semifinal game on Thursday at Mason has an 80 percent chance of rain, with scattered thunderstorms being called for. Whether or not that game gets in, Friday — the day the regional final is scheduled for — and Saturday both have 30-40 percent chances of more thunderstorms. And Lehman’s D-IV regional semifinal on Thursday in Springfield is sitting on a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms, with the odds going from 30 to 60 percent on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The D-I regional track meet, where Troy, Tippecanoe’s boys and Piqua will be competing, have the least to worry about as of Tuesday afternoon. In Dayton, there’s only a 20 percent chance of rain on Wednesday and Friday, according to Weather.com.
In Troy for the D-III regional, though, the odds go up to 40 percent with the forecast calling for p.m. thunderstorms. There’s also a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms in Dayton on Thursday and Saturday for the D-II regional. And Milton-Union’s boys — who got split off from the Dayton D-II regional and are being forced to go to Lexington — will deal with 30 percent chances of thunderstorms on both Thursday and Friday.
The Tippecanoe baseball team rides into Thursday’s regional semifinal matchup having pitched 21 consecutive scoreless innings in postseason play, defeating Urbana 5-0, Springfield Shawnee 1-0 and Chaminade Julienne 4-0 along the way. Aaron Hughes pitched the first two shutouts — including the nail-biter that was the sectional title game against the Braves — while Evan Ford blanked CJ in the district final.
Now the Red Devils will face St. Francis DeSales, which won back-to-back D-II state championships in 2011 and ‘12, beating Akron Archbishop Hoban 9-8 in 2011 and Wapakoneta 3-2 in 2012. The Devils last won a regional semifinal game in 2013, when they lose in the regional final to eventual state runner-up Jonathan Alder.
Lehman baseball, meanwhile, has rallied its way past its last two games and into a regional semifinal matchup Thursday against Reedsville Eastern — in a game that has seen its start time change multiple times this week. Originally scheduled for 2 p.m. and then switched to the 5 p.m. slot, it has now been moved up to a 1 p.m. start thanks to Tri-County North’s graduation later that night — the Panthers play in the other side of the bracket — and Reedsville Eastern’s refusal to take the 5 p.m. slot.
On Wednesday, the Troy track teams and Tippecanoe’s boys will begin competition at the D-I meet at Welcome Stadium. The Trojan girls won the district meet easily, while the Troy boys narrowly finished third behind powerhouses Wayne and Northmont.
On the boys’ side, Stephen Jones won a district title in the 3,200 and the 4×100 and 4×200 relay teams also won, with the 4×200 team breaking a school record in the process. The girls, meanwhile, won their second straight district title and qualified in 13 of the 17 events — sending multiple competitors in three events. Kelsey Walters won the shot put, Dasia Cole won the high jump, Gigandet improved her own school record and won the 3,200 and the 4×200 and 4×800 teams also won.
Tippecanoe’s boys, meanwhile, won the 4×800, and Mitchell Poynter was second in the 1,600 to Piqua’s Andy Mayse.
In D-III, the Miami East boys and Covington girls won team district titles despite only one competitor from either — Miami East’s Devyn Carson in the long jump — winning an individual district crown. Covington’s boys had a pair of winners, Jett Murphy in the pole vault and the 4×100 relay team, and Newton’s Brady McBride won the 3,200. Miami East’s Marie Ewing will go into the regional after winning the district in the 800, and from the Dayton district, Bethel’s Korry Hamlin won both the 1,600 and 3,200 and will join his fellow Miami County competitors Wednesday and Friday in Troy.
And in D-II, Milton-Union’s returning state qualifier Beyonce Bobbitt broke the district meet record in winning the discus and looks poised to make a return trip to Columbus, while the Tippecanoe girls will be coming off of a runner-up finish at the district meet where they crowned four district champs — Kaili Titley in the 800, Abbi Halsey in the 3,200 and the 4×800 and 4×400 relay teams.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.