Branch qualifies for junior nationals

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tyler Branch is going to stay home and go to the nationals at the same time.

The Ohio State Buckeyes red-shirt freshman thrower has qualified for the Junior National meet, and he gets to stay home since the meet this year is at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State.

Branch, who became the first male athlete to win a state championship at Coal Grove last spring, had qualified at an earlier meet and eclipsed his own record heave on Saturday with a distance of 18.76 meters or 61-feet, six- and 9-16ths of an inch.

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His previous qualifying distance was 17.9 meters.

As a red-shirt, Branch has been throwing unattached all season. By qualifying for the nationals, he will get to war his Ohio State uniform for the first time this coming Saturday in the nationals which are the top track performers from ages 14-19.

The Buckeyes Matt DeChant from Avon Lake had qualified earlier t 19.42 meters or 63-feet, eight- and 9-10ths inches.

Also qualifying on Saturday in his final opportunity was Ohio State’s Aaron Crabtree from Lucasville Valley with a toss of 17.72 or 58-feet, one- and 5-8ths inches.

DeChant and Crabtree have also thrown unattached all season, meanging they can compete in a meet but not for a school and cannot score any points. Despite being unattached, the trio competed well all season with some of the best throwers in the country.

Also, they could not be helped by Buckeyes coach Kevin Mannon. However, Mannon will be permitted to coach them at the nationals. The shot put event is 3 p.m. Saturday.