ARCANUM – Throughout his high school career Arcanum’s Isaac Stephens strived to make the Ohio High School Athletic Association state meet.
Now as a senior, Stephens finally reached that goal with the help of his teammates Tanner Delk, Chance Klipstine and Justin Vanatta as the four Arcanum boys qualified for the OHSAA state track and field meet in the 4×800 meter relay.
“I’ve always been trying to make it as an individual, Stephens said, “and it’s the team that’s helped get me here.”
This is the first time in 10 years that the Trojans made the state meet in the 4×800 meter relay. In 2007 Arcanum’s Tyler Moore, Cameron Lambert, Craig Denlinger and Zak Kite made it to state in the event.
Delk, Klipstine, Stephens and Vanatta have that 2007 team in their sights as the current Trojans want to break the school record that now belongs to the 2007 squad.
“It’s definitely possible,” Delk, a sophomore, said. “We just have to really push for it.”
This year’s team has a personal-best mark of 8:18.50 in the 4×800 relay – a mark they set at the Cross County Conference championships. The 2007 team set a school record of 8:10.17, meaning this year’s quartet needs to cut more than eight seconds off their PR to break the school record.
“It’s realistic, but everybody has to run their best on the same day, which is the hardest part,” Stephens said.
While the Trojans still want to set the school record, they’ve already reached their biggest goal this season, which was making it to the state meet.
“The second day I ever coached these guys I asked them what their main goal of the year was, all four of them said to make it to state in the 4×8 so that became my goal to get them there,” Arcanum distance coach Jon Junkins said. “I saw (the potential) right away, just by the work ethic, just by how much they wanted it, how much they put the extra work in just to do it. Anything I ask them to do they’re going to do. I think that’s the main thing that got them there is just their work ethic and maturity.”
The boys started training together in December, and all season their focus has been on this one event.
“Just from last year to this year the practices have been a lot harder, and they’ve really paid off,” Vanatta, a sophomore, said.
This is the first time any of the four will attend the state track and field meet, they said, but Junkins is confident they can handle the pressure.
“Their main goal was to make it to state so the main pressure that they had was at regionals,” the Arcanum coach said. “I think they’re going to be more relaxed than most teams at this meet, honestly.”
Nerves were an issue at last week’s regional meet, Stephens said. Like his coach, he anticipates the Trojans to be more relaxed this week.
“We were a nervous wreck at regionals, but I think we’re going to try to have fun and do the best we can,” the Arcanum senior said.
For Stephens, this will be his last opportunity to run for Arcanum so he’s hoping to make it a good race.
“Last race, hopefully we can just make it a good one and enjoy it,” he said.
The finals of the Division III boys 4×800 meter relay are set to begin at 9:45 a.m. Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus.
“We’re going to try to get the school record and hopefully get top eight so we can be on the podium,” Klipstine, a junior, said. “Hopefully we can do well.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.