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2001: You don’t always have to win to be a champion

Editor’s Note: The 113th annual OHSAA state track and field meet scheduled for this weekend was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. We all remember the state champions. This week we look back on some others who came close. Today it is Wellsville’s Richie Sloan, who won the 800-meter run at the Columbiana County Meet as a freshman, the only time he ran the event. He didn’t run track the next two seasons and returned as a senior, competing in the 2001 state finals in four events on the same day. Sloan is the father of Southern Local standouts Jayce and Bradly Sloan, who guided the Indians to their first 10-0 football season last fall:

DAYTON — Wellsville senior Richie Sloan didn’t win the state championship, but he won over a lot of fans at the state track meet.

They watched Sloan run from event to event at Welcome Stadium on Saturday, June 2, 2001, stopping only for a short breather on the podium.

Every medal he received, he took off right away. They weren’t the right color.

“I’ll put them back on,” Sloan said. “After the races I was disappointed.”

He joined Dustin Brooks, Gregg Collins and Marc LaScola on the Division III state runner-up 400-meter relay team (43.94 seconds).

Sloan also was third in the 400 dash (50.77), fourth in the long jump (21-feet-9 1/2) and seventh in the 200 dash (23.93).

His performance guided the Wellsville boys to their best showing ever at state. The Tigers were fourth in the team standings.

Their previous best finish was in 1988, when the Wellsville boys — led by state long jump champion Ron Pullie — scored 18 points to take sixth place.

Lorain Clearview won the Division III boys team title with 40 points as Dan Davis won state titles in back-to-back events — the 110 hurdles and 100 dash. He also was seventh in the 400 dash.

Running consecutive events in any meet, let alone the state meet, isn’t seen often for a reason.

“I’m impressed,” said Columbiana junior Derek Garrod, who was sixth in the 100 and 200 dashes. “That has to be tough. You could see it in Sloan in the 400 after running the 400 relay.”

Sloan collapsed after the 400 meters, his second race in 10 minutes.

“It just drained me running the 4×100 and 400,” he said. “It was just too much for me.”

“All four of them (in the relay) were running four events all year,” Wellsville coach David Thompson said. “I couldn’t have pulled Richie out of the relay. They wouldn’t have had a chance. If we run our fastest time, we would have won.”

“It’s the end of the season and a good sprinter should be able to run four events,” Brooks said. “He’s a tough kid.”

Sloan ran four events throughout the season, but nothing against the type of competition he saw over the weekend.

“It’s hardest here,” said Sloan, explaining most state competitors are in just one event. “Maybe with that being their only event, they have more left.”

Sloan didn’t have anything left Saturday — except for those medals.

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