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Branch becomes a Buckeye

COAL GROVE — Tyler Branch isn’t going where he thought he’d have to go, but he’s going right where he wants to go.

Branch, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior for the Coal Grove Hornets, is going to realize his dream after accepting a verbal offer to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes track team.

Two months ago, Ohio State coach Robert Gary called Branch and offered him a spot on the roster. Branch jumped at the opportunity.

“I really like Ohio State. It’s my favorite school and I never thought I’d be able to go to Ohio State. I thought I’d have to go to somewhere else,” Branch said.

“It really felt good (to commit early). It’s kind of a dream that I’ve had. I didn’t want to go far away. It was good to get it done early.”

Branch said he had one offer from Winthrop College in South Carolina, but it was seven hours away.

Branch caught the eye of Gary last spring at the state track and field meet at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State.

Branch placed sixth in the shot put and seventh in the discus at the Division III state meet.

During the regular season, Branch had a shot put throw of 54-1 and a discus toss of 157 feet.

“(Gary) said I was what he was looking for. I was tall and he said I hadn’t peaked out. He thought I could throw a lot farther,” Branch said.

Track is not the only sport Branch enjoys. He also plays football, basketball and baseball. Since baseball and track are both in the spring, he has to juggle his schedule.

“They all play a factor in it,” Branch said. “You have to be agile to throw, you need strength and you have to be quick.

“All the sports help you develop those areas. It seemed I did a lot better after baseball season last year.”

Competing in the state meet not only got Branch notice, it proved to be a welcomed challenge.

“I love being under pressure. The state meet was so fun. I love that atmosphere,” Branch said.

Tyler is the son of Stephanie and Kent Branch of Coal Grove.