Columbiana runner is a shoe-in

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:

COLUMBUS — Two-time state placer Nate Schmidt from Columbiana says it’s the shoes.

Not the ones he wears, but the treasured ones he carries with him to every track meet.

These are no ordinary shoes. These are magic shoes.

These are the ones that his friend, Bob Detwiler, used as a member of the Columbiana mile relay team that won the Class B state title in 1936.

Now before every race, Schmidt rubs the shoes for good luck.

“He gave them to me and I’ve been carrying them with me since,” Schmidt said. “They have been here (to the state track meet) before and I guess I hoped it would rub off.”

It did.

Schmidt finished third in the Division III 110-meter hurdles (14.97 seconds) and joined cousin Zach Schmidt, Brian Wrightson and Chad Kuhlman on the 400-meter relay team that placed sixth (44.49) at the state track meet on Saturday, June 7, 1997.

The shoes had been stored in Detwiler’s attic for years and thay have been working their magic since he gave them to Schmidt last fall. He thought they would give Schmidt a little added inspiration.

“I admire Nate so much,” said the 78-year-old Detwiler, who used to be Schmidt’s neighbor. “When we got talking one day, one thing led to another and I said I have something you might like. I told him about these shoes. His eyes lit up.

“He’s taken them every place he’s gone. I saw them off to Columbus the other day and he had them. I get such a kick over it.”

The last race the magic shoes were used for was the mile relay state championship in 1936.

“We upset Poland that day,” Detwiler said. “Poland was the mile relay champions up north and we had been second to them all year.”

The magic shoes returned to Ohio Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University this weekend for the first time in 61 years.

“I feel so good about Nate,” Detwiler said. “His real race is the 300 hurdles and, unfortunately, he hit the first hurdle in the regionals and never recovered. I’m convinced he could have won it.”

When Schmidt returned to Columbiana with his two state medals, everyone was giving credit where credit was due.

“Everyone is laughing it was the shoes,” Detwiler said.

Don’t try telling Schmidt that special gift from his friend had nothing to do with it.

“He’s special,” Schmidt said. “We’re not related, but he’s like another grandpa.”


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