COLUMBUS — There’s just something in the air at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium that makes runners go pretty darned fast.
In Friday’s June 1 final of the Division I girls 3,200-meter relay, the Beavercreek quartet of Taylor Ewert, Ashtyn Gluck, Jodi Pierce and Stephanie Pierce turned in a school-record time of 9:01.65 to finish second.
The time knocked off 10 seconds from the group’s previous school mark which was set last week. The only time that was better than the Beavers was turned in by a Gahanna Lincoln team believed to have set the top outdoor mark in the nation, a state-record mark of 8:53.49.
“Our coach kept telling us that we’d drop about 10 seconds today. I’m not sure if we believed him or not, but he was right.” said Stephanie Pierce.
“It felt like we were all on the same page today. We trained hard for this race, and I think it all just came together today for us,” Ewert said.
Sophomore Jodie Pierce says she could feel the difference in what it means to compete in a state championship-caliber meet.
“It just feels different here,” Pierce said. “You’re running with so many talented runners, and you can feel the noise and energy from all the people in the stands cheering for you. It’s just so much more exciting.”
That different feel propelled several Greene County area athletes on to Saturday’s finals in their respective events.
The Carroll girls mile relay team continued its Cinderella Story, that is, if Cinderella wore track cleats.
Sophomores Alaina Casey, Meghan Schrand, Taylor Smith, and freshman Ava Lickliter finished second in their Division II heat to automatically qualify to Saturday’s 1,600-meter final.
The top two finishers in each of the two preliminary heats, plus the next five quickest each advanced to the finals. Carroll was second in the first heat, and was fourth quickest overall out of the nine qualifying teams.
“We weren’t too worried about our times. We just wanted to finish in the top two. And once we got to the end of our runs, we all just kicked.” the girls excitedly said almost in unison.
Taylor Smith ran the anchor leg. She started the 400-meter lap in fourth place, but kicked into another gear down the final straightaway to pass the Cuyahoga Falls CVCA runner to place second behind the team from Indian Creek.
“When I was getting the baton, all I was thinking was ‘dang, I gotta go!’” Smith said. “Over here (in Turn 2), I felt like I wasn’t going fast enough, and I was trying to keep up with those girls ahead of me. Then the last 100, I just had to kick. I knew I had to do it for my team. I really wanted it.”
The Patriots four will compete in the D-II girls 1,600-meter relay at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.
The glass track shoes will be standing on the podium then.
Carroll’s Sam Janson won the Division I boys 400-meter dash preliminaries with a personal-best time of 48.11 seconds.
“I usually get passed early on, so today I was working on being sure to get out really fast,” Janson said. “… When I’m in the outside lanes like that (he was in Lane 8 of nine lanes), I don’t want to see anybody in front of me the whole race.”
Julia Keller said she enjoyed her first state experience in the Division II girls discus competition on Friday morning, but the Carroll sophomore doesn’t want to make it her last.
Keller’s best throw came on her first try: 115 feet, 10 inches, which put her in 13th place.
She’d finished fourth at the Piqua Regionals last week with a toss of 121-feet, 11 inches.
“I was just trying to reflect. I wasn’t super nervous. I was excited … with nerves, I guess! It’s a good throw for me. I was hoping for the 120 range, but 115 is a good throw for me,” she said. “(The experience) is definitely motivation for me. Just knowing that I got here for my sophomore year, that means I can improve even more and more, and hopefully make it back the next two years.”
Carroll coach Mike Triola felt good about Keller’s first foray at state, as well as her season.
“She really had a great year. She broke the freshman and sophomore records in the discus, she improved in the shot put by a couple feet from last year too. At the (Greater Catholic League Co-ed) championship, she was first in the discus, and second in the shot, so she’s had a really nice season.”