Smith fuels Calvert’s run to state

If there’s one thing Calvert’s Olivia Smith is not, it’s selfish. But imagine how good she’d be if she was.

When the junior took the baton on the final leg in the 4×400, the anchors of the first four teams held solid leads on the Senecas. Only one kept it.

Smith, running for her teammates, ran down opposing anchor after opposing anchor Friday to capture second and a state berth in 4:06.83 at the Division III regional at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.

“It was great. Last race of the day, you have to give it all you have. We don’t have another race until next Friday, so you just go out there and do your best under the lights,” she said. “It’s the perfect atmosphere: you’ve got the crowd behind you, you’ve got your teammates watching, season’s on the line for the 4×4 and you just go out there and the anticipation is just … I love it.

“The other girls put me in a great position to where they knew I could get that girl, and I ended up getting a few others, too, and put my team right where we wanted to be going into next week,” Smith said.

That last part is a bit of an understatement.

Smith had to sprint just to pass Arcadia’s Molly Glick on the backstretch to move into fourth. But the sprint didn’t stop there.

The junior, who earlier motored away from the field to easily win the 800, kept going faster and kept passing runners. Her unofficial split of 56 seconds on the anchor leg led to her blazing past Van Buren’s Kristen Tropf and Ashland Crestview’s Emily Trent.

All that kept her from catching Jensyn Garrow of Archbold’s winning team (4:04.09) was a lack of track.

“She just took that baton and took charge like she always does, and it ended that a [Calvert] girls relay team is going to be running at Columbus next weekend,” Calvert coach Stewart Behm said.

“It was exciting. You’re at a regional track meet and you’re talking top five teams in the region’s anchor legs and she passed them like they were standing still. She caught the fourth, third and second runners like it was her business, like it was her job,” he said. “It was fun. That backstretch, it was like she just didn’t slow down and kept right on a-going.”

Along with wanting to have her teammates join her at state, Smith said a big boost to her 4×400 leg came from a competitive spirit and, well, fresh legs.

“I knew I was on a pretty fast pace, but I’m used to running four events a day and only having two today, I obviously had more in the tank,” she said. “I really wanted to get those girls. I kept my eyes on one; as soon as I got her, I looked right forward to the next one and I was catching as many as I could, putting it all out there.”

Danielle Kontak, Morgan Smith and Marisa Horn joined her on the relay. The same foursome also qualified for state two days earlier in the 4×800.

In between those relay races, Olivia Smith also cruised in the 800 Friday.

She took the lead at end of the first lap, with Cory-Rawson’s Hannah Roebke matching her stride for stride for the next 250 meters.

But not the final 150.

Smith found another gear and a lot of empty space, breaking away before jogging in with the win in 2:17.46.

“It was a fast race. I felt people pushing me the whole way. The entire race until the last 150, I felt someone right on my heels and they were pushing me,” Smith said. “I was really going for a PR today and I wanted to see my time drop consecutive weeks in a row and have a good week headed into next week.

“That last 300 meters, I pushed it in,” she said. “I only had two races today.”

Two other area girls also earned trips to the state meet, which begins Friday at Jessie Owens Memorial Stadium at Ohio State University.

Lakota had the only other two area state qualifiers in Friday’s portion of the meet.

Junior Cariss Reese ran fourth in the 300 hurdles (46.67), beating out Fremont St. Joe’s Katie Blohm by two-tenths of a second for the final state berth. The top four in each event advanced.

Classmate Makayla Kiser took fourth in the pole vault in more dramatic fashion.

Kiser and Colonel Crawford’s Alex Carter both topped out at 9-6, forcing a vault-off after the other placers were determined.

They resumed their battle at 9-9, but both missed all three attempts.

The bar was then lowered to 9-6 and each went over cleanly on their first attempt.

Officials then moved the bar back to 9-9.

Carter missed her first attempt, but Kiser got over and landed with a state berth.

“Oh, my gosh, it was awful, it absolutely awful,” Kiser said of the jitters she felt. “I was such a mess.

“I honestly didn’t think (the bar) was going stay there, for a second. I thought I nicked it with my heels or something, but I don’t even know how to describe it,” she said. “It’s so crazy. I’m going to cry talking about it.”