By Zach Baker
COLUMBUS - Before Olivia Smith even stepped on the track at Jesse Owens Stadium Saturday, Calvert was giving a strong showing at the Division III track meet.
Smith gave it an exclamation point.
The sophomore surprised many - including herself - by outrunning Bluffton's Hannah Chappell-Dick and everyone else in the 800. She crossed the line at 2:14.12; in doing so she claimed Calvert's first state championship in an open race.
It was the school's first state championship of any kind since Brad Hammer, Matt Hammer, Todd Iannantuono and Ryan Schumm won the 4x4 in 1998.
Fourteen years later, Smith stood beyond the finish line with a look that conveyed joy and disbelief.
"My head is spinning right now," Smith said.
It had been a little more than a week since Chappell-Dick knocked off Smith for the regional title at Frost-Kalnow Stadium. This week, Chappell-Dick finished in 2:14.76
According to Smith and her coach, Stewart Behm, the key to Saturday was Smith's pace. She was in about fourth after the race's first lap.
Smith had the fifth best time coming into the meet.
"We talked a little strategy last night," Behm said. "We critiqued her regional race, and she told me what she wanted to do today. She did exactly what we talked about doing."
"The first lap, I didn't want to go as fast as I went last week, because I kind of died there at the end," she said. "And so I paced myself. I got a good position the first lap, didn't get boxed in, and then coming around that first curve in the second lap, I knew I had a lot left, so I gotta use it up."
It was just the place Behm wanted her to be.
"The thing is, Olivia has such good speed," he said. "When she runs her race, and has a little bit left in the tank over the last 250-200 meters, she's gonna be tough to beat no matter who she's running against."
Behm, who also was Calvert's coach for its last state championship, said he thought first was a possibility when there was between 200 and 150 meters to the finish line.
"The gap between her and the leader went from about 15-18 meters to six meters," Behm said. "(Smith) pulled up next to her with about 100 to go, and just fought (for) everything she got the last hundred."
Then, delirium set in.
"Those last 80 meters, I was just going nuts," he said.
So were the other members of the Calvert contingent, who gave Smith an ovation as she came to greet them after the race.
"That's awesome, our first open event ever, to win," said Joe Brodman, who was on Friday's fifth-place 4x800 team and took 11th in Saturday's 1,600. "That's a great accomplishment for her and the program."
Smith admitted in the minutes following the race that the championship hadn't sunk in yet, and may not for a while.
"Still not," Smith said. "I don't know. hopefully sometime today, once I get feelings in my toes back again, maybe then I'll get it."
Calvert's other competitors put together a nice day as well.
It started in the 4x200, when the team of Steve Smith, Ren Boehler, Nate Ritzler and Shane Boehler finished third in 1:30.78.
"We're really happy," Steve Smith said. "In the beginning of the year we didn't know what to expect, with the talent we had coming in. But throughout the year, our 4x2 seemed to be running really strong times. We knew we'd have a good chance down at state."
Ritzler and Steve Smith are seniors; Smith is a member of this year's 4x8 squad as well.
"It's a great way to go out," he said.
Ritzler, Ren Boehler and Shane Boehler joined Austin Kontak, another senior, in the 4x100 squad that finished in 44.18 for eighth.
"Being higher of course, would be great," Ritzler said. "But I'm very happy with what we accomplished. Just to get here was great for our team."
It was a busy couple of days for Ren Boehler. He ran in all four relays, meaning he took part in seven races in about 25 hours.
"He's the utility man," said Shane Boehler, Ren's twin. "There's no other kid in any other division in Ohio that's in all four relays at the state meet, so that's a pretty big accomplishment."
Not that Ren wanted to make much of a deal about it. After the 4x1, his final event, he said he wasn't tired.
"I've been doing it all year, event after event," he said. "It's just great I can help my team out by doing what they needed me to do."
Brodman finished the 1,600 in 4:31.94.
"Last race of my career," he said. "I'm glad I got to end it here."'
Brodman made the state meet in every sport he competed in this season: cross country, wrestling and track.
For Behm, it a was a great day for his team.
"Olivia was the last race of the day for us, and obviously this is the best way you can end your season," he said. "But that does not overshadow what everybody else here did today.
"We have done well in everything we came down here to do."