Xenia Christian athlete to make history in state indoor track championships

By John Bombatch Sports Editor jbombatch@civitasmedia.com

March 7, 2014

XENIA — In what could be a very historic occasion at the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Indoor State track meet, Xenia Christian High School will have both a relay team and an individual runner competing Saturday at the University of Akron.

One of those athletes is Grace Norman, the daughter of track coach Robin Norman. According to Xenia Christian Athletic Director John Augustine, Norman would become the first amputee to qualify to a state venue in Ohio.

Norman, a sophomore who also excels at cross country running, uses a cheetah running foot similar to that worn by Australian Oscar Pistorius, who competed using a similar device in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She will compete in the girls 3,200-meter run, and will team up with fellow Xenia Christian Ambassadors Mallory Stemple, Rachel Sweeney and Ariana Nelson to compete in the girls 3,200 Relay.

Robin Norman said the team qualified at a Findlay meet last weekend, a meet her daughter wanted to attend in order to meet double amputee A.J. Digby, a 13-year-old Paralympics hopeful from Bowling Green, who was also competing there.

“In the course of the meet, we had the 4x800 relay team drop their time by nearly 22 seconds and end up qualifying seventh in the state, and Grace qualified ninth in the two-mile. … So it was a very extraordinary day for the whole team,” Norman said. “They award medals to the top eight finishers in each event, so you can bet that the girls will be giving it their all to earn one of those medals.”

Stemple, Sweeney and Nelson played basketball for the school this season. Norman competed as a member of the Xenia Christian swim team this winter, is an accomplished Para Triathlon competitor. She currently has the second best time in the nation for her age group, and expects to compete in the National Para Triathlon Championships later this year.

According to OhioMileSplit.com, several area runners from Carroll, Greenon and Beavercreek High Schools and Xenia High long jumper Africa Strodes, were also eligible to compete at the state meet, but it was not immediately known whether or not they would be in Akron for Saturday’s event.

The Division I meet is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. while the Division II-III meet is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., Saturday at the Stiles Field House on the University of Akron campus.

The oh.milesplit.com website will broadcast the entire meet online.