|Clay aims for state title|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON, Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 28 March 2013 10:09|
ROSSFORD - Ryan Clay took little time to enjoy his trip to the state high school track and field meet last season.
Instead, the Rossford senior quickly started to look ahead to this season.
Less than 24 hours after finishing 13th in the 800 last season, Clay was setting his sights on a state championship.
He's established himself as one of the favorites following his third-place run in the state indoor meet March 16.
"I want to be a state champion and being down there last year, the expectations definitely will be higher," Clay said.
Clay had a time of 1:59.83 to finish 13th at the state outdoor meet last season. He followed that with a time of 1:57.98 at the state indoor meet.
"With my success at the indoor meet, especially this early and the time I ran, puts a state title in perspective and what I'm capable of," said Clay, who holds the Rossford outdoor record with a 1.57.78 clocking at last season's regional meet.
Although indoor times can be misleading because they're run in perfect conditions, Clay's worked hard in preparation for the outdoor season.
The quarterback on Rossford's football team, Clay lifted weights almost every day last summer and then ran 20-25 miles a week once he returned from Christmas break to prepare for track. He also mixed in some speed workouts.
The 6-foot, 160-pounder ran in five indoor meets this season, compared to one last season.
"I'm pleased with my times so far," Clay said. "I feel like the shape I'm in, with the progress I've made, I feel like I'm back to the point where I was at the end of last year which is great.
"My goal is to get in even better shape during the outdoor season and I know I still have a lot of work to do. I feel a real difference of where I'm at now and where I was last year. I take it one day at a time and try to get better every day."
Seven runners at the state outdoor meet last season are eligible to return this season, including defending champion Jared Fleming of Van Wert.
"Being down there gives you a feeling for what the state meet is like with all of those people there," Clay said. "Hopefully, going back there this year, I'll have that experience of being down there because even at this year's indoor meet, I felt like I had been there before. That really helped me get over the shock of being there. The experience was huge."
Fleming won the state title with a time of 1:54.01. In most seasons, a time of 1:53-1:54 wins the state title.
Clay is the defending Northern Buckeye Conference champion in the 800. His other events are the 400, and the 800 and 1,600 relays.
"He really taken it upon himself to improve," Rossford coach Todd Eckel said. "We would get done with conditioning and then he would go out to do his own workout. He put more of an emphasis on trying to perform well in the indoor season this year. Now, it's trying to refocus and peak at the end of the year for the outdoor season."
Clay's the latest standout sprinter in his family.
His sister, Rachael, was an All-Ohio sprinter and finished second in the state in the 200 in 2008. She ran collegiately at Miami and holds the second-fastest time in school history in the 400. She also competed in the NCAA Championships in her specialty last season.
"Just being around her and seeing how hard she worked, and how all of that paid off really motivated me," Ryan Clay said. "Being down there at state with her was a great experience."
Clay, who has a 4.25 grade-point average, plans on attending college at Purdue, Ohio State or Cincinnati and majoring in engineering.
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