EATON, Ohio — Cody Booth scored a pair of first-place finishes to earn Track Athlete of the Year honors and lead the University of Rio Grande men’s track & field team to the River States Conference Championship, Friday afternoon, at at the Eaton Community Schools Athletic Complex.
Booth, a junior from New Philadelphia, Ohio, won the 5,000-meter run in a time of 15:17.31 and did the same in the 10,000-meter run after crossing the finish line in 34:12.05.
Freshman Eric Weber (Bidwell, OH) had the RedStorm’s other first-place showing as an individual. He took top honors in the hammer throw with a toss of 47.04m.
Rio’s other first-place winner came from the 4×400 relay unit — comprised of freshman Antoine Sullivan, Jr. (Shaker Heights, OH), freshman Jorden Williams (Springfield, OH), senior Keshawn Jones (Mansfield, OH) and freshman Spencer Harris (Gallipolis, OH) — which closed the meet with a win in a time of 3:25.33.
As a team, Rio Grande piled up 175 points to win its fifth conference championship and its first since 2018 when it won the fourth of fourth straight titles.
Head coach Bob Willey, who turned 70 years old on Saturday, received an early birthday present by being named the league’s Coach of the Year.
The RedStorm had a number of other notable finishes, including junior Dean Freitag (Magnolia, OH), who met the “A” qualifying standard for the NAIA National Championship with a runner-up finish of 21:49.79 in the 5,000-meter race walk.
Others who posted scoring/Top 10 performances included Harris, who finished second in both the high jump (1.75m) and long jump (6.40m); freshman Haden Karshner (Circleville, OH), who was second in the discus throw with an effort of 44.49m, third in the javelin throw at 39.30m, fifth in the shot put with a toss of 12.45m and sixth in the hammer throw at 36.79m; senior Daniel Everett (Fletcher, OH), who placed second in the hammer throw with a heave of 46.85m and sixth in both the discus (38.02m) and shot put (12.22m); freshman Mason Dishong (Reedsville, OH), who was second in the javelin at 42.40m and fifth in the discus throw with a toss of 38.26m; Sullivan, who took runner-honors in the 400-meter dash with a time of 51.58; freshman Josiah Edwards (South Webster, OH), who took third in the shot put at 13.14m and seventh in both the hammer (36.47m) and javelin (35.80m); Williams, who was third in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 58.06 and fifth in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 17.10; Weber, who was third in the discus with a toss of 41.90m; Jones, who placed third in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:58.64; freshman Tristan Janey (Crown City, OH), who was third in the 5,000-meter race walk with a finish of 30:52.12; freshman Travis Hunt (New Paris, OH), who was fifth in the triple jump with a leap of 12.21m and ninth in the long jump with an effort of 5.75m; freshman Holden Fritz (Canton, OH), who placed eighth in both the 100-meter dash (29.39) and 200-meter dash (48.65); and junior Trace Conley (Minford, OH), who finished eighth in the shot put at 11.43m.
The RedStorm also placed third in the 4×100 relay with a time of 44.67. The team included Hunt, Sullivan, Williams and Harris.
The 4×800 relay — comprised of Sullivan, freshman Kyle Lightner (Peebles, OH), freshman Austin Setty (Fairfield, OH) and Jones — finished fourth in a time of 8:30.23.
The top three placements in all events and relays earned All-River States Conference honors. The top eight finishers in each event earned points for their teams.
Point Park University finished second with 130 points, while Brescia University (117 pts.) edged West Virginia University-Tech (115 pts.) for third place.
Also named was the Champions of Character Team. Nominated by their head coach, one member of each team was recognized for best displaying the NAIA’s five core values of respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.
Freitag represented Rio on the list.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.