But what is so unbelievable about the St. Paul seniors, both college commits in the sport, reaching the Division III state track and field championships in four different events each?
“Because not many people get to do it and it takes a lot of hard work,” said Powers, who will continue her track career at the University of Mount Union. “Our coaches have been saying since our freshmen year that this was an attainable goal — and we always thought it was a little crazy and it wasn’t going to happen. That it actually happened now is a little hard to believe at times, even as we prepare to compete.”
It’s also the first time in girls program history at St. Paul an athlete has qualified in four events — and Hedrick and Powers are doing it simultaneously.
Hedrick, a Ball State University commit, will be on four relay teams beginning Friday at Jesse Owens Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus. Powers will be on three relays and compete individually in the 100-meter dash.
The 4x800 distance relay will include Claire Ceccoli, Holly Powers, Hedrick and Lily Dowdell.
The 4x100 and 4x200 relays are Gabby Scavuzzo, Hedrick, Gwen Olcott and Powers — and the 4x400 is Dowdell, Hedrick, Scavuzzo and Powers.
“We have a lot of talent here, don’t get me wrong, but I think even more so — it’s the heart,” Hedrick said. “The passion is evident. We love to run, we love being around each other and push each other every day.
“The vibe in the locker room — you can just feel it when our coaches give us pep talks,” she added. “Everyone has their goals, and we were determined more than ever this year.”
Qualifying a girls relay to state has become quite common at St. Paul, and both Hedrick and Powers credit assistant coach Marlo Rossman as the ‘master’ of coaching the baton hand-offs.
“Coach Marlo has them down to a science, and they are all different and come down to the steps,” Hedrick said. “Even a half-step at times can make a difference. But definitely another big piece is trust that you will get out the way you need to, and that your teammate will have the baton in your hand.
“When we get to a spot and put our hand out, the baton is there,” she added. “There is no verbal communication on some of them. It’s just a trust factor.”
As a classmate, Scavuzzo says Hedrick and Powers are more than just elite athletes.
“They have been incredible leaders for all of us, including myself and the underclassmen,” Scavuzzo said. “They’ve brought us together through track and inspired us to be better. We don’t want to necessarily let them down, because they have worked so hard and are incredible athletes and leaders. We’re really lucky to have them.”
For Powers, who credits head coach John Rossman and Marlo Rossman, along with trainer Damon Butts for her success, track has become an outlet of sorts. In her own way, it’s what led her path to Columbus.
“It’s a way for me to just release everything, and I just feel like myself the most when I’m on the track,” she said. “I like that it’s an individual sport, but also a team sport. It’s up to me to do my best, but then I get to celebrate with my team when we all come together and do great things — like we are on our relays.”
Conversely, Hedrick finds personal-best times in track and field addicting.
“I think it’s different than any other sport, especially at St. Paul,” Hedrick said. “It feels individual at times, but really, the team atmosphere hooked me. Everyone pushing each other to do their best. The mentality of racing, how far you can push yourself ... I find it kind of addicting to see how far you can go and see how much better you can get.”
The 4x800 will enter the 18-team field right in the middle with the ninth-fastest preliminary time (9:47.3) on Friday morning. The 4x100 enters with the third-best time (50.19), while the 4x200 (1:45.47) has the fourth-fastest time entering the event.
To close out the relays, the St. Paul 4x400 time of 4:01.32 is second only to Covington’s 3:59.67.
Individually, just .63 seconds separates the 18 runners in Powers’ 100 sprint.
“Anything can happen down there, but we’re ready and want to finish as high as we can,” Powers said. “I would love to make it to Day 2 in the 100, but I’m just going to try my best. In the relays, top three would be awesome. We’ll try our best.”
Hedrick echoed her teammates as far as podium expectations, but added everything about this weekend will have a different feel. All told between the girls and boys programs, St. Paul will have 16 different athletes over nine events at state — also the most in school history.
“We want to place as high as we can, but I could not be more excited at the number of us going down between the girls and boys teams,” Hedrick said. “To experience state with everyone is awesome — to see all the hard work pay off like that.
“I’m just so thankful for my coaches and teammates,” she added. “I wouldn’t be in this position without any of my teammates because they are all relays. I can’t say it’s my work alone, it’s hand-in-hand.”
Added Powers: “It’s really awesome as seniors and with the Rossman’s in their last year to end on this note. At this point, we’re all just excited to be there, so whatever we do is just icing on the cake.”