PIQUA — It’s open for debate, but the 800-meter run is considered one of the most grueling events in track and field. Is it a sprint event? Is it a distance event?
“I’ve always liked how my dad describes it to me: ‘It’s a jog but you’re sprinting the whole time,’” Houston High School senior Ethan Knouff said. “I remember someone saying they scientifically tested it and it’s the most painful event in track. Yeah, I’m good in the most painful event in track. I’ve always liked that idea.”
Both Knouff and Russia sophomore Becca Seger labored under a hot and sunny day for victories in the 800 at the Division II district championships at Piqua High School on Saturday. Knouff won the boys title in 1:58.21 to edge out Fort Loramie teammates Joe Ballas (2:00.64) and Gavin Schulze (2:01.76).
Seger’s 2:23.56 edged out Botkins sophomore Emma Koenig to win by 0.24 seconds.
“I was intimidated a little bit,” Seger said of competing against Koening, West Liberty-Salem’s Katelyn Stapleton, Fort Loramie’s Anna Detrick (fourth) and fellow Russia teammate Ella Hoehne (fifth) among others. “All these girls are really good. They pushed me to stay up there.”
Seger wasn’t planning on that final footrace to the finish. The main goal at district is to finish among the top four and advance to next week’s regional championships. But running shoulder-to-shoulder with Koenig changed her game plan.
“I was planning on just trying to qualify, but I didn’t see myself finishing first,” Seger said. “It was like, okay I’ll try to stay with it the best I can.”
Both Seger and Knouff qualified in the 800 for the regional meet last season. Seger finished eighth. Knouff finished fourth to move on to state where he finished 15th. Knouff said running in the state pack has hopefully helped him emerge from it this season.
“I kind of noticed how big the pack was and I think I just mentally shut down last year,” Knouff said. “It’s a tight-knit pack. It’s more physical at state. I learned that and how to hold ground.
“Once you finally learn how to mentally stay in the race and keep up the speed and kick at the end … it’s kind of like this barrier. Once you get over it, it’s just something you do.”
There are times both Knouff and Seger wonder about their sanity running the event — usually right after crossing the finishing line and dropping to their knees or hunching over to catch their breath.
“It’s slowly becoming more of a sprint,” Seger said. “Two laps almost sprinting is tough. My team and family help me telling me don’t give up. … My team really helps me. My coaches, they push me and tell me I got this. Don’t think about it just run your race. You just gotta be positive.”
Among other highlights from the D-III district meet at Piqua on Saturday:
• The Fort Loramie boys team won the team title with 117 points to runner-up Covington’s 82.
Rethman scored district titles in the 1,600 and the 3,200, and led off the winning 3,200 relay team with freshman Colten Gasson, senior Gavin Schulze and Ballas.
“The district title is awesome because everyone collectively shares it. It indicates a lot of people moved on to regionals,” Rethman said. “That’s our goal – to get as many people to state. District is just the first step.”
• Fort Loramie junior Kennedi Gephart won the 200 dash, was second in the 100 and fourth in the 400.
• Fort Loramie junior Alyssa Wrasman won the 100 hurdles.
• Botkins senior Adriana Jutte won the 300 hurdles and was second in the 100 hurdles.
• Botkins senior Grace Botkins won the discus.
• Lehman Catholic freshman Ella Monnin, junior Rylie McIver, junior Olivia Monnin and sophomore Lindsey Magoteaux won the 800 relay in 1:46.85, as Magoteaux held off West Liberty-Salem’s Grace Estes by .21 of a second.
“Both races were PRs,” Magoteaux said. “We wanted to win both races. Last year, we didn’t make it (to state) in the 4×200. Our fastest time coming in to this week was 1:50, so I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. But, we took two seconds off in prelims and another two seconds off in finals. So, I am feeling pretty good about that.”
After finishing third in the 100 in 12.92 and anchoring the 400 and 800 relay teams to victory, Magoteaux’s last race of the day was 200.
As she was coming off the curve, Magoteaux realized something was wrong.
“My shoestring came untied and my shoe almost came off,” Magoteaux said with a laugh. “I thought, Oh crap. I figured I just better try to get fourth at that point.”
That is what exactly what she did, finishing in 27.18.
It capped a big day for the Cavaliers, which finished fifth in the final standings, just behind Covington who was fourth.
Magoteaux teamed with Monnin, McIver and Lauren McFarland to win the 400 relay in 50.50, as Magoteaux chased down West Liberty-Salem’s Alex Burton to win by eight-hundreths of a second.
McIver and McFarland both had good days for Lehman as well.
McIver took second in the. 300 hurdles and McFarland took fourth in the 100 hurdles.
On Tuesday, the 3,200 relay (Sophia Flood, Agnes Schmiesing, Colleen O’Leary, Maria Schmiesing) had finished fourth in 10:36.06.
• D-II district at Graham
Anna’s boys and girls competed at the D-II district meet at Graham High School.
The boys won the district title with 106 points to runner-up Springfield Shawnee’s 68. The girls were third behind Bellefontaine and Carroll.
Senior Colton Nanik won the 300 hurdles.
Senior Alex Bruggaman won the 110 hurdles and led off the 800 relay with senior Derek Arling, junior Bart Bixler and junior Jeffrey Richards. Bruggaman, Richards, junior Riley Huelskamp and junior Ian Bollheimer won the 400 relay.
Senior Hannah Shoemaker won the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
• D-II district at Piqua
Versailles’ boys and grils competed n the D-II meet at Piqua.
The girls finished third behind Chaminade-Julienne and Oakwood while the boys finished eighth of out 17 squads.
Ava Moran finished first in the 200 while Lucy Prakel earned the championship in pole vault by clearing 11-0.
Piqua Daily Call sports editor Rob Kiser contributed to this article. Contact Kiser at email@example.com.