By Ken Barhorst
and Rob Kiser
COLUMBUS — Despite winning two events and finishing second in another, Anna still trailed neighboring Minster by four points going into the final event of the Division 3 State Track Meet Saturday, the 1600 relay.
Minster was sitting at 32 points to 28 for the Lady Rockets.
But the same four girls who dominated on the track the rest of the day, seniors Krista Gehret and Kennedey Glover, junior Rachel Shoemaker and her sophomore sister Hannah, came through when it mattered most, taking first in the event.
They got 10 points for winning the 1600 relay and finished the meet with 38 points, but still needed Minster to finish fourth or worse to take the team title. And Minster was fifth to earn four points and finish with 36.
“After Kennedey won the 800, and I saw that Minster didn’t point (score) in the 3200, I knew we had a chance,” said Anna’s Bryan Rioch, in his first season as head coach of the girls. “I knew Mansfield St. Peter’s would only get 30 points, so it was between us and Minster.”
Two races were pivotal in the Lady Rockets’ run to the title.
Glover sped to first place in the 800, winning over second-place Grace York of Russia and third-place Madeline Magoto of Minster.
Then the race just before the 1600 relay was the 3200 run and that proved to be big. Minster’s Emma Watcke had taken first place in the 1600 run, and was in the 3200 also. But she wound up not placing, and that kept Anna close.
The Lady Rockets had the second-fastest qualifying time on Friday in the 1600 relay, but ran a 3:56.31 to 3:56.58 for runner-up St. Thomas Aquinas. Minster ran a 4:03.35 for fifth place.
Anna won the title with just those four qualifiers. But they won three of their events and were second in the fourth. In addition to Glover in the 800, and the 1600 relay, Anna won its best race, the 800 relay, and placed second in the 400 relay.
“In the last couple years, St. Thomas Aquinas had great sprinters,” said Rioch. “But they didn’t this year, so I knew it was wide open and I felt pretty confident. The girls were pretty nervous on Friday and that was good because I think they got that our of their system. They’ve been pretty good in two-day meets this season so I expected them to come back strong today.”
Rioch credited the Shoemaker sisters for much of the success in the final event.
“Hannah started off with a PR (personal record) on her leg, and Rachel followed with a PR,” he said. “Then we finished up with the two seniors. And I can’t say enough about Krista and Kennedey. I’ve been coaching football and track for over 30 years now and they are about as good as I’ve ever had, from an athletic standpoint and being coachable. I just can’t say enough about them.”
He said colleges “were all over Kennedey” after the meet.
Russia senior Grace York finished off an amazing career Saturday, finishing second in the D-III 800-meter run.
Anna’s Kennedy Glover won in 2:13.12, while York was second in 2:14.55 and Minster’s Madeline Magoto was third in 2:15.43.
York came in with the fastest time and immediately moved out front. She opened up a lead with a 64.12 split on the first lap.
But while she did that, Glover had an amazing final 300 for the win.
“You’re never sure of winning until it’s over,” York said. “She’s one of the girls I knew could run a time like that. I’m just really proud of how our region went 1-2-3 today. Finishing fifth last year and second today, I’m really happy with that.”
And there was an added bonus — Russia’s only girls state champion, Katie Borchers, who went on to be an All-American at Ohio State in the 800, presented the medals on the podium.
“That was really cool,” York said. “Katie (Borchers) is someone I’ve always aspired to be like as a runner.”
• Also in D-3, Fort Loramie had two placers on Saturday in Tom Ballas, fifth in the 1600, and Joe Ballas, eighth in the 800.
In her third trip to the state meet, Lehman’s Alanna O’Leary finished seventh in the 400 in 58.28.
“I ran a PR for this year today, so I’m happy with that,” O’Leary said. “My coaches and family encouraged me to put in some extra work this year. This is the first time I’ve done that and it paid off. So I’m going to continue to do that.”
In the 800 relay, Marion Local was fourth and Minster fifth.
In the Divsion 2 meet, Versailles had two state champions.
Josh Steinbrunner crossed the line first in the 10 hurdles, running a 14.54 to win by four one-hundreths of a second.
And in the girls pole vault, Jenna Frantz cleared an impressive 12 feet, 9 inches on her first try to win the state title by nearly a foot over the runner-up.
Frantz also took third place in the long jump with a distance of 18 feet, 5 inches, and ran the lead leg on the 400 relay team that placed sixth in 49.74. She was joined by Lucy Prakel, Cassie peters and Ava Moran.
Prakel added a sixth-place finish in the pole vault.
Frantz, who was seventh in the pole vault as a freshman and second as a sophomore, cleared 12-2 on her first attempt, while Alex Eby and Karlie Lax of Orrville both missed at that height.
“Honestly, I was hoping they would make it and keep going,” Frantz said. “All I was thinking about (once she won), was where to set the bar for the next attempt.”
The decision was an easy one — the “scholarship height.”
Frantz moved the bar to 12-9 and cleared it on her first attempt, before missing on all three attempts at 13-0 after being perfect on the day going to that height.
“The 12-9 is the scholarship height at the University of Akron (where she will vault next year),” Frantz, who already has an academic scholarship to the school, said. “You have to clear 12-9 for an athletic scholarship. Akron has a great program. They had two pole vaulters in the last Olympics. I can’t wait to get there.”
Joe Spitzer accounted for the boys’ other six points when he placed third in the 3200 run in 9:31.91.
The Versailles girls finished seventh in he final team standings with 22 points, and that was just 15 behind state champion Beechwood.
The Versailles boys totaled 16 points and that put them in a five-way tie for 12th in the final team standings.
State Track Meet
Saturday at OSU
State placers (top 8)
Girls 800 relay — 1. Anna (Rachel Shoemaker, Hannah Shoemaker, Kennedey Glover, Krista Gehret) 1:42.15; 4. Marion Local (Natalie Rethman, Brooke Homan, Jessie Kramer, Kylie Albers) 1:45.97; 5. Minster (Paige Thobe, Courtney Prenger, Jordyn Heitbrink, Jessica Falk) 1:46.2.
Girls 1600 run — 1. Emma Watcke, Minster, 5:01.08.
Boys 1600 run — 5. Tom Ballas, Fort Loramie, 4:23.76.
Girls 400 relay — 2. Anna (Rachel Shoemaker, Hannah Shoemaker, Kennedey Glover, Krista Gehret) 49.47.
Girls 400 dash — 7. Alanna O’Leary, Lehman, 58.28.
Girls 800 run — 1. Kennedey Glover, Anna, 2:13.12; 2. Grace York, Russia, 2;14.55; 3. Madeline Magoto, Minster, 2:15.43.
Boys 800 run — 8. Joe Ballas, Fort Loramie, 1:58.49.
Girls 1600 relay — 1. Anna (Hannah Shoemaker, Rachel Shoemaker, Krista Gehret, Kennedey Glover) 3:56.31; 5. Minster (Cassie Francis, Courtney Prenger, Lilliam Hirschfeld, Madeline Magoto) 4:03.35.
Boys 110 hurdles — 1. Josh Steinbrunner, Versailles, 14.54.
Girls 400 relay — 6. Versailles (Jenna Frantz, Lucy Prakel, Cassie Peters, Ava Moran) 49.74.
Boys 3200 run — 3. Joe Spitzer, Versailles, 9:31.91.
Girls long jump — 3. Jenna Frantz, Versailles, 18-5.5.
Girls pole vault — 1. Jenna Frantz, Versailles, 12-9; 6. Lucy Prakel, Versailles, 11-2.