Representing one’s home state is an opportunity Chandler McGaha doesn’t take lightly.
An eighth-place finisher in the 800-meter run at last week’s State Finals, the Franklin senior will participate in Saturday’s Midwest Meet of Champions at Ohio Wesleyan University.
The Midwest Meet, in its 43rd year, showcases the talents of some of the best girls and boys track athletes from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Only those who have just completed high school and competed in their respective state meets can take part.
In McGaha’s case, six of the seven runners placing ahead of him at the State Finals were also seniors. Therefore, he’s expected to be part of Indiana’s 4×800 relay and could also find himself in the open 800.
“I heard about the meet a few years ago, and it’s always been a goal to be invited to it,” said McGaha, who clocked a personal-best time of 1:55.43 at state. “One of the Indiana assistant coaches asked after my race at state if I could go.
“It’s just the chance to race fast one more time before I go to college. Racing against people who run 1:50s and times like that will be exciting.”
Athletes and coaches at the Midwest Meet of Champions begin preparations Friday with a team practice and banquet. Competition takes place Saturday.
Center Grove sprinter Grant Mason is also expected to be part of the Indiana boys squad, though his availability to compete is in question. Mason aggravated his right hamstring with 50 meters remaining in the 200-meter final at state and said there “is a 50-50 chance” he’ll run.
He is currently listed as one of Indiana’s runners in the 4×200 and 4×400 relays.
“It’s just an honor to be in the meet,” said Mason, who placed fourth at state in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes and anchored the Trojans’ ninth-place 4×100 team.
“In the 4×400 I would be running with (North Central’s) Isaiah Ware and some of the other top guys.”
Whiteland’s Ryder Emberton is expected to compete in the shot put and discus, while Warrior teammate Jacob Ballain will in the pole vault. Emberton won state in the shot as a junior and was runner-up in the discus this season, while Ballain finished sixth last week in his specialty.
Midwest Meet of Champions
Where: Ohio Wesleyan University (Delaware, Ohio)
Local participants: Center Grove – Grant Mason. Franklin – Chandler McGaha (4×800). Whiteland – Jacob Ballain (pole vault), Ryder Emberton (discus, shot put).