Then local athletes were able to show off what they really can do after putting up impressive performances on Day 1 of the state track and field championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus on Friday.
With 14 athletes in action on Friday, they did not disappoint as 10 will see the finals on Saturday with hope of ending their seasons on top of the podium in front of the grandstands. Edison’s Joe Eskra started the day off in the pole vault where he took sixth place with a 13-foot-10 vault in the final giving him All-Ohio honors. There were two other field events that held their finals on Friday — the Division III boys and girls long jump.
In the boys long jump, Western Reserve’s Colton Puder took sixth place with a 21-04 giving him sixth place and All-Ohio honors while New London’s Morgan Luedy advanced to the finals of the girls long jump and took ninth with a day-best 16-09 jump.
Luedy was busy all day competing in four events total. She ran the 100-meter dash in 12.63 seconds giving her the seventh best preliminary time and sending her to Day 2 for the final. She ran the 200-meter dash in 25.94 giving her the eighth best preliminary time and also sending her to the final. In all, she will compete in two individual events and a relay on Championship Saturday.
“I didn’t know if I was going to pass out or throw up,” Luedy said with a laugh. “I am very excited to be in the finals of all of my events. I ran faster today than I did last year in any state event. I am glad I won’t have long jump tomorrow and I will be able to leave it all out on the track in the 4x400.”
Last year, Luedy qualified for state in four individual events and advanced to Day 2 in just one, the 100-meter dash. Last year she battled with the 300-hurdles, the 200-meter dash and the high jump. She admits not doing the hurdles this year was a huge help.
“Today was all about getting in the Top 8,” Luedy said. “Not having to hurdle helped a lot this year. That is a very hard recovery. The 200 is not as strenuous as the 300 hurdles.”
She runs in the 100-meter dash finals at 9:40 a.m., the 200-meter dash at 11:20 a.m. and the 4x400 relay at 11:55 a.m. She will have a quick turnaround but luckily there is one event between the 200 and 4x400.
“We will have the 2-mile race between events so that will be my best friend,” Luedy said.
Joining Luedy in the 4x400 are teammates Dana Gustely, Eden Copley and Maryonna Cathey. The team ran a 4:04.97 to grab the final qualifying spot. It was the first time the trio made the trip to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“We were all very nervous because for the three of us, it was our first time running on this track,” Copley said. “The crowd was a bit intimidating, but we were able to grab that last spot. We are OK with Lane 9 because she (Gustely) likes being in front to start and it will help her mentally and I will only have to run half of the curve and then I can cut it. We are excited to do better tomorrow than we did today.”
Although they took the last qualifying spot, the girls remain confident in what is about to come.
“Tomorrow is our day to really give it our all,” Gustely said. “It is going to be our day to really kill it. I almost cried because I didn’t think we advanced and then Morgan cam up and said, “How does Lane 9 sound?” and I said it sounded great.”
With it being their first time on the track at a state meet, the ladies admitted it was a lot less intimidating than they expected.
“I felt like it was just another race,” Cathey said.
“It was a lot less scary than what I imagined,” Gustely said. “I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t focus on how much wider and bigger the track was. I just went out and ran and it was a lot less intimidating.”
Joining the Lady Wildcats in the finals is the St. Paul Lady Flyers who took the seventh best qualifying time with a 4:02.21. The team of Gabby Scavuzzo, Lily Dowdell, Olivia Powers and Meghan Hedrick will also look for some redemption after qualifying in a lower than expected spot.
The Flyers saw the qualifying times coming in and decided to change things up.
“Coming in we changed up our order a little bit in order to try and compete with those faster times,” Hedrick said. “We knew coming in it was going to be a lot of fast times and great competition. We just wanted to come out and put up the best time we possibly could.”
Dowdell started the race with the first leg after usually running the second while Hedrick took over the second leg after usually being the anchor. Powers took over the anchor spot and Scavuzzo ran the third leg.
“It was different for me since I am usually the second leg of our relay,” Dowdell said. “I just went out and gave it everything I had. The handoff could be crazy, but I just wanted to concentrate on getting a smooth one down and it worked.”
Scuvazzo made up the most ground in her third leg and did it with one thing in mind.
“I wanted to get Olivia in the best spot possible and put the team in position to put up a great time,” Scavuzzo said. “They do so much for me and I just wanted to give back to them.”
Powers received her handoff and blazed around the track falling at the finish line struggling to catch her breath and get to her feet. She walked away with ice wrapped behind her leg still gasping for air.
“I went out a little bit too hard and at the end, I just didn’t have anything else left to give,” Powers said.
As for what the ladies have in store for the finals.
“We want a personal record in the finals,” Hedrick said.
The Flyers also advance to the finals in the 4x100 after putting up a 51.17 in the preliminaries and taking the seventh qualifying spot. Hedrick, Scavuzzo and Powers will be joined by senior Emily Baker in the event.
Edison’s Bryce Ostheimer rounded out the day in the running events as he finished with the sixth best time in the 110-meter hurdles with a 14.66 and the top overall qualifying time in the 300-meter hurdles with a 38.58.
“I feel really good going into the finals,” Ostheimer said. “When I got here last year, I didn’t finish the way I wanted to. If you finish in the Top 6 at state as a member of Edison High School, you get put up in the cafeteria forever. There is one female, but there are no male hurdlers up there. That has eaten me alive since last year. I want to get Top 6 so bad so I can be the first male hurdler in that cafeteria.”
Ostheimer may do more than just put his picture up in the cafeteria at Edison High School as his 38.58 was the best time in the two preliminary races. He admits he may be able to do more in the championship race.
“It is exciting to put up that time,” Ostheimer said. “I wanted to make sure I was in the 38’s today because Day 1 is all about getting to Day 2. Day 2 is when you want to put out your best effort. I was just hoping to advance today and I just put up one of my best times ever. Hopefully I can come back tomorrow and drop it even lower.”
Monroeville’s Kristen Smith competed in the 400-meter dash and took eighth place in her preliminary race with a 59.80 and saw her successful season come to an end.
Today, Luedy kicks off the day with the 100-meter dash finals at 9:40 a.m. while Dowdell and Western Reserve’s Brendan Oswalt run in the 1,600-meter final at 10:05 a.m. The St. Paul 4x100 team runs in the final at 10:20 a.m. and Hedrick turns right around and runs in the 800-meter final at 10:55 a.m.
Luedy is back at it at 11:20 a.m. in the 200-meter dash final while the Lady Flyers and Lady Wildcats run in the 4x400 relay at 11:55 a.m. Ostheimer takes on the 110-meter hurdle finals at 1:05 p.m. and the 300-meter hurdle final at 2:15 p.m.