Strong first day for area entries

COLUMBUS – For Calvert track, very little has been decided regarding finishes after the first day of the state meet.

And for the Senecas, that’s a good thing.

Calvert had competitors in six events Friday, five of them preliminaries. The Senecas advanced to today’s finals in all of those.

That, along with Carey’s Dana Newell finishing fourth in the high jump, accounted for some of the area highlights Friday.

Calvert’s 4×800 team of Morgan Smith, Danielle Kontak, Marisa Horn and Olivia Smith placed 12th in 9:55.68 in the day’s first race.

If there was disappointment about that finish, the Senecas shook it off, as the same four girls qualified for the 4×400 final in 4:08.27. They go into today with the ninth-best time.

Horn said there were some tense moments at the meet early on.

“It was kind of nerve-wracking in a way,” Horn said. “I’ve never been down here before – I mean, I came down with Olivia last year to watch her, but to actually run a race was a little nerve-wracking. I got my nerves out of the way, came back, ran the 4×4 and it went really well.”

Advancing was particularly important to Horn, the lone senior on the relay.

“I’m very excited to come back [today],” Horn said. “My goal was, as a senior, was to get down here in some relays and I accomplished that goal. To come back (today), run one last race as a senior, I’m really excited.”

Her cousin, junior Olivia Smith, said she shared that excitement.

“(Horn’s) the lone senior girl on the team, she’s been running since her freshman year. I know this is one of her goals, that she’s always wanted to get to the state meet,” Olivia Smith said, “and to be able to do that in her last year, and to do it – with her being my cousin and all, I really wanted to do this for her – it’s great that she gets to do it, and do it one more day.”

Olivia Smith said she thinks Calvert can improve it’s time in the event.

“I think we’d like to see our time drop. We know what we’re capable of,” she said. “We ran a 4:06 at regionals. We’d like to see that drop. We’re just a hair off the school record, and that’s one of the goals we set at the beginning of the season to get. We’d really like to get that (today).”

Of course, the junior also will run in the 800, the race she won here last year.

“I’m just trying to be really relaxed,” she said. “As the defending state champion, I guess people could say that eyes are on me, but I’m just going to go out there and have fun. I love all my races, but I’m just gonna go out there and do what I can.”

For Calvert’s boys, Shane Boehler had a big day. Along with his twin Ren and teammates Austin Ball and Jake Long, he made finals in the 4×100 (44.03) and 4×200 (1:31.04).

On his own, Shane Boehler made the finals in the 100 (11.13) and the 200 (22.43).

“It’s been a great day. I PR’d in the 200; I was pretty close in the 100,” he said. “I don’t know. It’s great. I was kind of worried about not making finals; a little nervous. But before the race, I kinda calmed down a little bit. I think that helped a lot.”

He may have talked to his brother, who was in four events at state last year. Ren Boehler said experience at the big meet is key to handling nerves.

“Two years ago I came down as an alternate, and it really helped with last year,” he said. “From experience from last year to this year, it’s so much better.”

Ren Boehler said the Senecas have high expectations for today.

“We’ve run faster times in both relays, for sure,” he said. “We had a few edgy handoffs [Friday], so if we get the handoffs down, and we run as hard as we can, I think we can definitely place high up there.”

Ball agreed.

“I know for sure that I can do better than what I did,” she said. “We should be able to really do well (today).”

Like Ball, it was Long’s first trip to the state meet. Both said they had some anxiety.

“It’s just great. There’s nothing like it. I’m enjoying it right now,” Long said. “The nerves, like Austin said, setting in, but (today) they’ll be gone. We experienced it the first day, and since we made it out I think we’ll have a really good chance of doing well.”

It took a few years, but Newell found herself on the podium Friday.

“Finally. It only took four years to get there, but I got there,” the three-time state-qualifier said after clearing 5-3 to end fourth.

“It’s exciting knowing I finally made it and all my hard work actually paid off,” she said.

Newell tied for 12th as a freshman and finished 10th last year. She had hoped to match or better her personal-best of 5-5 in her final trip, but just couldn’t get over the bar that high.

“Just wasn’t there today. I think I tweaked my ankle on one of the jumps, so I don’t think that helped, either,” she said. “One of those days, I guess.”

A handful of area athletes weren’t as lucky, either missing a trip to the podium or not advancing to today’s finals.

Lakota junior Makayla Kiser tied for 13th in the pole vault in her first trip to state, clearing 9 feet. The top eight in each event make their way to the podium.

Classmate Cariss Reese finished fourth in her heat of the 300 hurdles (47.97), but did not move to the finals. The top two in each prelim and the next five fastest times qualified for the finals.

Buckeye Central senior Austin McDonnell ended sixth in his heat of the 300 hurdles (40.53) and did not advance.

Old Fort sophomore Adam Alexander missed all three of his tries at the opening height in the pole vault.

The Division III meet resumes today at 9:30 a.m.

Along with the area athletes who advanced through Friday’s prelims, today’s portion of the meet will include Old Fort’s Marcus Meyers in the 1,600.