COLUMBUS — Fairfield High School and specifically a Lions Track and Field athlete has competed at the highest level of Ohio High School sports and brought home a State Championship for the first time in Fairfield history. Brandtson Duffie has competed several times over the seasons at the OHSAA State Championship level in Cross Country and Track and Field but, had come up short. That all changed for the Fairfield Senior on Saturday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University where Duffie out paced the competition in the Division III Boys 800-meter run with a time of one minute and 53.77 seconds to claim the first State Championship for the Fairfield Lions.
Duffie was clearly jubilant with the win and said as much after the medal presentation that saw him at the top of the podium in the D III Boys 800-meter run after a third place finish one year ago and a sixth place finish in 2017.
“Its the most emotional I have ever been crossing the finish line. Its everything I’ve wanted to accomplish, the feeling was just unmatched. I was just so excited, so delighted with how I raced and everything that’s put into it, that I have put into it for four years finally comes out,” said Duffie.
Duffie entered the State Final race with the fourth fastest time of the 18 athletes that advanced from their respective Regional Championships and was clearly poised to make some noise in the event at the State level this year.
The Senior for the Lions ran strong form the start and positioned himself near the front of the pack with East Canton’s Colt Hemphill and was sitting in third after the first lap of the race.
Hemphill tried to pull away with about 200-meters to go in the race but Duffie was able to catch him as they rounded the last turn and pass him in the final 100-meters of the race to earn a nearly one second victory.
“Through one lap I knew I wanted to put myself in position to just race. I didn’t want to get too far back and have to pass a bunch of people,” Duffie said. “Came through one lap I was right at second or third and I was happy with where I was.”
“With 200 left the guy who was in first place at the time pulled away from me and I didn;t want to lose I hate to lose,” said Duffie. “With 100 left I saw I was in sight of winning and I just gave everything I had to kick him down and win.”
Duffie had appeared in the D III Boys 800-meter race the two previous years and had improved his standing with each successive trip but said that winning was not the most important thing for him in his Senior season with the Lions.
“It was just my senior year, I wanted to go out with a bang. A win or not I was going to be happy as long as I ran to the best of my ability,” Duffie said after the win. “Obviously the win was, in the back of my mind, what I really wanted but, what I really wanted was to enjoy my time here for my last high school race. Just be in the moment and get ready to perform in the moment.”
The event was a dog fight throughout with the top six runners in the event finishing within two seconds of one another and each setting personal records in the 800-meter run.
“I PR’d by like right at two and a half or two seconds, I knew it was going to be a dog fight, I knew times were going to be a lot faster than they were in the Regional the other day,” said Duffie. “We have perfect conditions here and we’ve got the best racers, best fans. I knew everything was going to be faster, I knew it was going to be hard pressed and I knew it was going to be the hardest I’ve ever had to run.”
The Senior knows that without the hard work and dedication he, his family, his coaches and his community put into supporting him he may have never achieved his dream, “Thanks for everybody coming out and supporting me. Thanks for my coaches and my family again for pushing me to be the best and thanks to the community of Leesburg for supporting this ride for four years. I’m thankful to be the first one to bring a State Championship to Leesburg and hopefully my legacy can be carried on for years to come.”
The Lions were also represented in the race by Senior Bennett Hodson who fell behind early in the race and was unable to catch back up to the rest of the pack as he finished in 17th place with a time of two minutes and 1.92 seconds.
Hodson earned the opportunity to race in the 2019 OHSAA State Track and Field Championship with a third place finish in the Lancaster Regional Championship Boys 800-meter run.
Hodson was competing in the OHSAA State Track and Field Championships and he signed to continue his running career in Cross Country and Track and Field with Kentucky Christian University starting in the fall of 2019.
Ryan Applegate is the Sports Editor for The Times-Gazette. Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.