By John Bombatch
COLUMBUS — From the elation of finishing on the awards podium, to the anguish of not making it that far, the full spectrum of emotions could be felt at Saturday’s state high school track and field championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium,
During the Division I girls 800-meter final, that spectrum was about a quarter of a second in length.
Beavercreek teammates Jordan Grant and Stephanie Pierce were both qualified among the state’s 16 best in the event, but Grant’s time of 2:13.54 earned her the eighth and final spot on the awards podium; Pierce finished 0.24 of a second behind and wound up 10th.
After the race, Grant was seen consoling her friend and teammate.
“I’m happy to be back here, especially with Stephanie,” Grant said. “I just wish we could be on the podium together. She’s been right by my side all season, and she deserves to be up there just as much as anyone. But yeah, I’m just really happy for both of us just to be able to come here and compete together.”
With tears still streaming down her cheeks, Pierce nodded that Saturday’s 10th-place finish will serve as motivation for her during the off season.
Both Beavercreek runners ran personal best times. The good news for both is that they have the chance to come back and possibly perform even better next year. Grant will be a senior; Pierce a junior.
Cedarville hurdler Everett Harding, Xenia Christian distance runner Rachel Sweeney and the Carroll girls mile relay team of Christina Kallet, Hannah Ritter, Haley Sabo and Julie Barbera all ended their 2016 track and field seasons on the podium on Saturday.
Harding was proud to finish sixth in the Division III boys 300-meter hurdles final.
“It means a lot to me. It’s a great feeling. A super small town, we don’t have very many people who come out of there and get to state. I was just lucky enough to train hard and get to come this far. I finished sixth and I’m happy with that. I can say I’m the sixth fastest in the state,” the Indians senior said. Harding couldn’t revel in his accomplishment for very long, though.
“I’ve got college ahead of me. My high school track career is officially done. As of this moment, I am a Central State University Marauder, and I gotta go to football practice after this! It’ll be rough, but I’m definitely very happy.”
Xenia Christian’s Rachel Sweeney placed fourth in the D-III girls 800-meter run with a time of 2:15.75, her second-quickest time of her three-year career.
“The race went well. I got myself in a good position going into the second lap. I started getting boxed in and a had to fight my way out of that. And that took a lot of energy from me, and I didn’t have a lot for the last stretch. … So that’s why I got fourth,” she said. “… I’m glad that I’m just a junior and I have a chance to do this again. I felt like my sophomore experience at state really helped me a lot for this year. I’m hoping that this year will help me for next year.”
The Patriots senior quartet of Kallet, Ritter, Sabo and Barbera set a new Carroll school record in the Division II girls 1,600-meter relay on Saturday, finishing fifth with a time of 4:01.13.
“This has been an absolutely amazing season. I’m so glad that I got to finish out with three of my best friends. … This is our last race, this is the last thing that we’re doing for high school, so we just wanted to go out and give it our all,” Barbera said.
“We all did our best, which is all we ask for from each other, and I’m really proud of all of them,” said Ritter.
“We just wanted to end the season on a positive note for ourselves and for everybody else at Carroll, just so they have the intentions and mindset of knowing that their hard work can pay off and they can maybe get their own spot on the podium,” said Kallet.
Sabo said hard work enabled the four girls to make a state championship bid a possibility.
“We all just had the right mindset and I think each of us knew that we could do it. So I think that’s why we made it here today. Without my teammates pushing me, we definitely couldn’t have done this. We all just worked together as hard as we could,” she said.