Prep track: Area girls brush aside pressure

Hardin Northern's Mackenzie Shepherd clears the bar in the girls pole vault at Friday’s Division III regional track meet at Tiffin. Shepherd cleared 10-0 to finish third and earn a trip to next week’s OHSAA state meet in Columbus. (Photo by Kent Tarbox).

Hardin Northern’s Mackenzie Shepherd clears the bar in the girls pole vault at Friday’s Division III regional track meet at Tiffin. Shepherd cleared 10-0 to finish third and earn a trip to next week’s OHSAA state meet in Columbus. (Photo by Kent Tarbox).

staff writer
TIFFIN — The ability to respond under pressure is what separates the best athletes from the average.
For a trio of athletes at Friday’s Division III regional track and field meet at Tiffin’s Frost-Kalnow Stadium, knowing they passed personal tests with flying colors has them brimming with confidence heading into next week’s state meet in Columbus.
The top four finishers in each event Friday earned the trip the to the June 6-7 OHSAA state championships at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Stadium.
Leipsic’s Holly Averesch had something to prove after fouling on all three of her throws in Wednesday’s shot put competition. She responded with a toss of 147-5 to win a regional title in the discus.
“I was really bummed out that I didn’t make it in shot,” she said. But, she figured, Friday was a brand new day and a new event.
“You have to push on and let it go in the past,” she said. “I worked really hard yesterday, and I wanted to come in today and make it out no matter the mark. And, I made it out as the champ.”
Averesch threw at the state meet last year and placed 10th at 119-4. Her sights are set much higher this year.
“I really, really want to hit a 150 down in Columbus, just to get a PR,” she said. “In practice I’ve hit it, in meets I’ve hit it but it hasn’t been marked so I really want to do it there.”
A veteran of big meets now as a junior, Averesch has learned to deal with the pressure those big meets bring.
“It’s fun going down and competing against the friends that you’ve made throughout the years,” she said. “And there’s a little bit of pressure, too. There’s a lot of people watching and clapping.”
Keeping things simple is the key, she said.
“I don’t think about what I’ve thrown before, or about the other marks put down ahead of me. I take a deep breath and do what I can do, and at the end of the day that’s all I can do,” she said. “I just hope that it’s the best.”
Columbus Grove’s Megan Verhoff placed second in the discus at 135-3. McComb’s Molly Leppelmeier was third at 124-1.
Verhoff is the first to admit she’d been in a late-season slump. At both the Putnam County League and Northwest Conference meets, she failed to put down a mark as she fouled all three attempts in both meets.
“I was struggling at the NWC and the PCL, and I wanted to come out strong today because this is the meet that matters,” said Verhoff, who was 12th at state last season (114-3). “This is my senior year and I didn’t want to go out like that. I had to go back to practice and fix my mistakes.”
Mission accomplished, as Verhoff set a season and personal best at Tiffin.
“It’s my PR by inches,” she said. “It came on my very last throw.”
From the start, Verhoff was spot on with her throws. She was in the top four after the first three throws and maintained her spot through the final rounds.
“I knew I had to throw at least 120 to get out,” she said. “That’s what I kept saying in my head, ‘120, 120.’ I was at 125ish in the first set of throws, and that was my PR this year.”
Cory-Rawson’s Hannah Roebke ran in the 800 finals at state last year and placed seventh. Tiffin Calvert’s Olivia Smith won the 2013 championship, her second title in a row.
On Friday, Roebke turned the tables. She led from midway through the opening lap and cruised to victory in 2:16.39, beating Smith by more than two seconds in the process.
Roebke feels good about it, but knows Smith has earned her two state championships through merit.
“It gives me confidence, but Olivia Smith is one of those runners who can grit her teeth and pull it out,” Roebke said. “I’ve seen her do it, like on Wednesday she pulled her 4×8 team to state from way back in the pack.
“I know that she has the determination to get through, so I’m excited to know that I’m right there with her this year. We’re good competition for each other, and I know we’re going to push each other to some really good times at state.”
Highlight performances were the rule rather than the exception Friday.
While Roebke’s 800 time was a personal and school record, third-place finisher Rachell Resnik of Van Buren (2:19.20) is off to state with a new school mark and PR as well. Resnik also helped Van Buren’s 1600 relay advance to state with a second-place finish (4:05.58).
“I went with a new strategy tonight. I came as strong as I could to start the 800 and it really worked out well,” she said.
Continental’s Paige Ordway and Columbus Grove’s Sydney McCluer advanced in three events.
Ordway, fifth in the 300 low hurdles at state last year, was second in that event (46.05) and also qualified in the long jump (third, 16-4) and 100 intermediate hurdles (third, 16.05).
“The 100 was kind of a surprise, to be honest,” Ordway said. “Even the long jump, a little bit. I hadn’t been doing well in that and I hit it today.”
McCluer won the 100 hurdles (15.71) and joined teammates Raiya Flores, Julia Wynn and Linnea Stephens to advance in the 400 relay (third, 50.04); and Flores, Julia Wynn and Kristin Wynn in the 1,600 relay (fourth, 4:06.36). Grove’s 800 relay quartet of Flores, Stephens and the Wynns was fourth (1:46.73).
Ada’s Brittney Archer advanced in the 100 (fourth, 12.77) and 200 (third, 25.99).
Other state qualifiers included Riverdale’s Sarah Hunter in the 400 (third, 58.68); Pandora-Gilboa’s Breana Hovest in the 3,200 (fourth, 11:58.46); and pole vaulters Willow Thompson (first, 10-8) and Jessica Beck (fourth, 10-0) of Arlington, Sara Goddard (second, 10-4) of St. Wendelin and Mackenzie Shepherd (third, 10-0) of Hardin Northern.
1, Tinora 71½. 2, Liberty Center 50. 3, Columbus Grove 47. 4 (tie), Toledo Christian & Archbold 36. 6, Sandusky St. Mary’s 29. 7, Gibsonburg 26. 8, Evergreen 25. 9, Holgate 24. 10, Arlington 23. 11 (tie), Tiffin Calvert & Upper Scioto Valley 22. 13, Continental 20. 14, McComb 19. 15, Pandora-Gilboa 17. 16 (tie) Van Buren, Riverdale & Ayersville 16. 19, Margaretta 15. 20, Ada 14. 21 (tie), Fostoria St. Wendelin & Fairview 12. 23, Pettisville 10½. 24 (tie) Cory-Rawwon & Leipsic 10. 26 (tie) Hardin Northern, Patrick Henry, Carey, Old Fort & Antwerp 6. 31, Edon 5. 32 (tie) Fremont St. Joseph & Fayette 4. 34 (tie) Hopewell-Loudon, Edgerton, Wayne Trace & Lakota 3. 38 (tie) Bluffton, Allen East & Montpelier 2. 41, Danbury 1.
State Qualifiers and Area Finishes
DISCUS — 1, Averesch (Leip) 147-5. 2, Verhoff (CG) 135-3. 3, Leppelmeier (McC) 124-1. 4, Weirahch (LC) 123-2. 7, Pauley (Rive) 117-5.
PV — 1, Thompson (Arl) 10-8. 2, Goddard (FSW) 10-4. 3, Shepherd (HN) 10-0. 4, Beck (Arl) 10-0. 6, Siegel (H-L) 9-4.
LJ — 1, Holbrook (USV) 16-9¼. 2, Gennari (SMM) 16-8½. 3, Ordway (Cont) 16-4. 4, Culler (Fair) 16-3. 6, Roth (McC) 16-2¾. 7, Marshall (Ada) 16-¼.
100 IH — 1, McCluer (CG) 15.71. 2, Westmeyer (TC) 16.03. 3, Ordway (Cont) 16.05. 4, Truckor (Ever) 16.10.
100 — 1, Abdul (Tin) 12.34. 2, Ke. Reynolds (Gib) 12.65. 3, Holbrook (USV) 12.70. 4, Archer (Ada) 12.77.
800 RELAY — 1, Tinora (Hall, Otte, Seifert, Abdul) 1:44.94. 2, Sandusky St, Mary’s (Bastien, K. Gennari, McCarty, I. Gennari) 1:46.26. 3, Archbold (Garrow, Roth, Short, Driver) 1:46.67. 4, Columbus Grove (Flores, K. Wynn, Stephens, J. Wynn) 1:46.73. 5, Carey (Craig, Wenner, Wentling, Spurlock) 1:46.93.6, Arlington (H. Johnson, Stoltz, Beach, M. Johnson) 1:47.99.
1,600 — 1, Atkinson (LC) 5:13.69. 2, Willett (Hol) 5:22.48. 3, Leppelmeier (Pet) 5:25.42. 4, Hinds (SMM) 5:28.42. 6, Hovest (P-G) 5:38.83. 7, Velasques (P-G) 5:41.10.
400 RELAY — 1, Tinora (Hall, Seifert, Otte, Abdul) 49.49 (meet record). 2, Toledo Christian (Adebiyi, Westmeyer, Stewart, Johnston) 50.02. 3, Columbus Grove (Flores, J. Wynn, Stephens, McCluer) 50.04. 4, Margaretta (Nielsen, Ambos, Bailey, Parkhurst) 50.22. 5, Arlington (H. Johnson, M. Johnson, Beck, Stoltz) 50.81.
400 — 1, Col Reynolds (Gib) 58.08. 2, Johnston (TC) 58.48. 3, Hunter (Riv) 58.68. 4, Longhardner (Ant) 59.20.
300 LH — 1, Truckor (Ever) 45.99. 2, Ordway (Cont) 46.05. 3, Westmeyer (TC) 46.12. 4, Keber (Tin) 46.17. 5, McCluer (CG) 46.21.
800 — 1, Roebke (C-R) 2:16.39. 2, O.Smith (Cal) 2:18.66. 3, Resnik (VB) 2:19.20. 4, Kundo (LC) 2:19.26. 5, Manns (Riv) 2:21.99. 7, Steinmetz (Blu) 2:23.87.
200 — 1, Abdul (Tin) 25.40. 2, Seifert (Tin) 25.82. 3, Archer (Ada) 25.99. 4, Holbrook (USV) 26.08.
3,200 — 1, Atkinson (LC) 11:41.17. 2, Willett (Hol) 11:51.38. 3,l Chamberlain (LC) 11:55.99. 4, Hovest (P-G) 11:58.46. 5, Velasquez (P-G) 12:02.19.
1,600 RELAY — 1, Archbold (Roth, Short, Hernandez, Garrow) 4:01.91. 2, Van Buren (Wise, Schmelzer, Resnik, Lasley) 4:05.58. 3, Tinora (Otte, Behringer, Keber, Seifert) 4:06.29. 4, Columbus Grove (K. Wynn, McCluer, Flores, J. Wynn) 4:06.36. 5, Riverdale (Manns, Penwell, Pickett, Hunter) 4:06.42. 7, Carey (Wentling, Heinze, Craig, Spurlock) 4:16.16.
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