By ANDY WOLF
One last shot.
Unfortunately, two area girls track and field athletes, both former state qualifiers, won’t get one last shot.
Hopewell-Loudon’s Bailey Jameson and Elmwood’s Allison Arnold both suffered torn ACLs late in their respective basketball seasons.
Their competitive prep sports days are over.
“It didn’t set in until (April 4). I went to a track meet for the first time,” Jameson said.
“The whole time I’ve been super positive and tried to keep a good outlook on it. That just hit then, just watching everybody for the first time.”
“It’s really hard,” Arnold said. “I was out cross country and basketball season because I tore my ACL last year. I had a lot of goals for this season. Not being able to run kind of
Jameson was fresh off a 14th-place finish in the Division III long jump last year.
Arnold was a state-qualifier in the 400-meter dash as a sophomore, placing 16th in a time of 1:05.32.
While both are accomplished athletes, their injury histories are completely opposite.
Jameson stayed healthy until suffering her ACL tear a month ago.
Arnold’s injury battles are ongoing since her sophomore season.
That year, she placed sixth at the Division II regional in the 800 — her favorite event.
“Not many people like the 800,” Arnold said. “It pumps a lot of adrenaline in you, the two laps. The first lap it’s just, all adrenaline. The second lap, oh this is easy, I only have one lap left.”
Arnold developed tendinitis in her knee her sophomore year, forcing her to drop down in distance to the 400. Still, she was looking to build on the experience of being at state, but she tore her ACL the first time last April while high jumping.
“She’s definitely had to overcome a lot of adversity,” Elmwood coach Eric Poffenbaugh said. “I think that’s made her the quality person that she is. I can’t think of anybody — ever — that’s had to go through more than she has and she’s always taken it with a positive attitude and looked for the best in it.”
At the time of her second ACL tear, basketball season was largely the focus.
Just getting back on the court was a goal in itself.
Arnold returned around mid-January and got “around 6-7 games” in before tearing it again.
“I don’t really regret playing basketball because I wasn’t supposed to play,” Arnold said. “My doctor didn’t really want me to. He wanted me to focus on track and I like basketball and I wanted to help my team.”
Eerily enough, Jameson’s and Arnold’s on-court injuries occurred in a similar fashion.
“I was going up for a layup in the Rossford game (Jan. 23) and the girl behind me, just pushed back,” Arnold said.
Two weeks later, Jameson got injured in the last regular season game.
“Originally I thought I was just kind of running, non-contact, pivot wrong or something,” she said.
“But I watched the film and got a rebound, kind of dribbled off to the side to get a better shot and as I was shooting, got hit because it was a super close game, twisted and fell.
“As I was falling I felt it pop.”
Both schools enjoyed respectively successful seasons full of team accomplishments.
Elmwood shared a Northern Buckeye Conference title with Eastwood.
Hopewell-Loudon celebrated its first district title since 2007.
The Chieftains’ run ended in the Division IV regional semifinals with a 62-46 loss to eventual state runner-up Ottoville.
“It was definitely rough,” Jameson said of watching their postseason run from the bench.
“I knew that I definitely played a part in getting there. It was definitely bittersweet. I was proud we had gotten that far, loved watching everyone play. Everyone really stepped up which was awesome.”
Another common quality both share is peaking at the right time.
Like Arnold, Jameson competed at regionals individually as a freshman. She missed the podium by one spot, finishing ninth.
After failing to qualify for regional as a sophomore, Jameson seized her chance at redemption last spring, emerging from a crowded and hotly contested field to take runner-up honors with a leap of 16-91/4.
Her jump, a school-record mark, also broke her personal record by almost eight inches.
“The last jump to get to state I just kind of let loose,” Jameson said. “I didn’t know how to translate that into my jump. Not only was I jumping further but the feel of it felt like I was doing really great.”
Meanwhile, Arnold’s 2016 district time of 1:02.13 seeded her ninth in the regional field.
She ran the fifth-fasted preliminary time and tumbled across the finish line in fourth to qualify for state by two-hundredths of a second.
“The possibilities were going to be endless for her,” Poffenbaugh said. “Things just didn’t work out and that’s tough to see that for her.”
Still, one state trip is one more than many athletes get.
For that, Jameson and Arnold are both grateful.
“I definitely didn’t take it for granted because definitely I was the only (H-L) person (there); everyone was focused on me,” Jameson said. “The community was very, very, supportive. I definitely spent the whole weekend taking it in. Knowing I would’ve gotten injured, I wouldn’t have changed anything.”
Arnold added: “I definitely accomplished most of my goals I wanted to get throughout high school. I wanted to make it to state. I got that.
“I was a four-year letterman in basketball and track. I’d say it was pretty successful with injuries.”