By John Bombatch
COLUMBUS — A pair of area 3,200-meter girls relay teams book-ended their success around a very hot first day of the OHSAA boys and girls state track and field championships at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the Ohio State University campus.
Before the temperatures climbed into the upper 80s, Xenia Christian girls 3,200-meter relay team opened up the day by placing sixth in the very first event of the morning. The team of Rachel Sweeney, Tori Estepp, Ariana Nelson and Grace Norman turned in a time of 9:42.53 — nine seconds slower than their second-place regional qualifying time —but the four runners were understandably proud of their finish, against the state’s best.
“It was a lot slower than what our regional time was. I don’t know why. We did our best on a given day with the talents that God had given us. It wasn’t our best time today, but our best got us on the podium,” anchor runner Grace Norman said. “It was great to spend it with these girls.”
Xenia Christian did not qualify to state in the 3,200 relay last year.
Beavercreek then closed out the day for Greene County-area competing teams almost eight hours later with an exciting fourth-place finish in the Division I 3,200-meter relay in 9:14.48.
The Battlin’ Beavers quartet of Stephanie Pierce, Lauren Shuman, Jordan Grant and Cami Baird said they had something to prove.
“I think we were just excited to run, to prove that we shouldn’t have been DQ’d last year (at regionals) and that Beavercreek is here to win … next year,” said anchor runner Baird, the lone senior on the squad.
“It’s such a cool experience. After being disqualified at regionals last year, this is our first time back,” Pierce said. “We really didn’t expect much. We’re just happy to be here and to do as well as we could. I think we proved something.”
Pierce and Shuman will compete in the D-I girls 800-meter final on Saturday.
Two other Greene County-area 3,200-meter relay teams competed in their respective finals on Friday: The Division II Carroll girls team of Christina Kallet, Hannah Ritter, Ellie Rumme and Maria McCarty finished 11th; And in Division I, the Beavercreek boys 3,200 team of Ian Johnson, Brad Klingbeil, Ben Ewert and Jacob Benigno finished 15th.
Ewert will compete in today’s mile final.
Bellbrook’s Melissa Wahl will be the only area athlete competing in a field event on Saturday. The Golden Eagle will be in the D-I high jump final at noon.
Division II Carroll and Division III Cedarville saw athletes advance out of Friday’s preliminary rounds and into Saturday’s finals.
Cedarville’s Everett Harding turned in the sixth quickest time in the Division III boys 300-meter hurdles. He was excited to be moving on, and to be upholding the Indians’ hurdling tradition.
“We’ve had a history of hurdlers here at Cedarville. Tony Young went to state in the 110s and the 300s, and then Chase Gruet had the school record, and I thought he was gonna be better than Jonah, so I knew that I had to get better to be one of the greats at Cedarville. And I was able to get the school record (40.24 at regionals last week), so moving on to finals today means a lot,” Harding said. “I ‘m ranked sixth in the field right now, so I’m thinking I’m going to be in one of the inside lanes, so that’s good because the person in front of me won’t see me coming. I hope to chase them down and get myself into the top-4. The top-8 win a medal, and I’d be very happy with that.”
The boys 300-meter hurdles final will go off at just before 10:55 a.m. Saturday.
The Carroll girls mile relay (1,600-meters) team of Kallet, Haley Sabo, Ritter and Julia Barbera had to find results on a writer’s cell phone before happily realizing they’d finished with the seventh quickest time in their prelims to advance.
Carroll’s mile relay final will be the final D-II event at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Kallet will also be in the 800 final at 2 p.m.