By TED RADICK
COLUMBUS — After Leipsic’s Grace Rigel popped a 46-foot throw on her second attempt Friday at the OHSAA Divison III state track and field championships at Jesse Owens Stadium, it was easily apparent it was going to take a massive effort to beat her.
Through both flights in the shot put, Rigel had the lead. Through two rounds of throws in the finals, Rigel still led. In the sixth and last round of throws, seven competitors failed to top her.
Then, Newton Falls’ Izzy Kline stepped in the ring and threw a 46-3. Rigel could only manage a 44-91/2 on her last attempt as Kline won the state championship.
“I had a feeling I had it, but, you know, anything can happen here,” Rigel said. “Kudos to her, she had a good throw.”
Rigel won her fourth medal in the event. She was eighth as a freshman, second as a sophomore and fourth last year. Her mark Friday set a personal record and broke her own Leispic school record.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t get first, obviously, but a PR, a school record, four times coming here and sitting on the podium four times, there’s not much else I could ask for,” she said.
Rigel’s finish capped a strong day for area girls in the Division III field events. Arcadia’s Samantha Watkins placed sixth in the discus earlier Friday with a toss of 127-4.
“I’m happy. I came in just hoping to make the finals, and I got that,” Watkins said. “I’m excited about that.”
Watkins, at state for the first time, opened with a 127-2 in her first throw. She reached 127-0 in her third attempt and hit her best on her fourth throw.
“I hit 127 multiple times, I was consistent today,” she said.
The three throwers to finish ahead of Watkins were seniors. Liberty-Benton junior Chloe Miller won with a 140-2.
“I want to make it a little bit higher on the podium next year,” Watkins said. “Looking at the girls who placed on the podium, Chloe was one of the only juniors. So, with those seniors being gone, hopefully I can get myself up there. I’ll work a lot harder this summer and get a better placing.”
Two area athletes placed on the podium in the high jump. Mohawk freshman Taeylor Mullholand was third at 5-4 and Liberty-Benton senior Lindsey Bishop was eighth at 5-2.
“Mainly, I was just happy that I met my goal and made it here as a freshman,” Mullholand said. “And everything beyond this point, other than getting here, was just like a bonus for me. I’m just really happy that I got to place today.”
Mullholand jumped clean at 4-10 and 5-0 before a lightning delay halted the meet for nearly two hours. She returned and hit jumps of 5-2 and 5-4 without a miss before bowing out with the bar at 5-5.
“I’m pretty happy,” Mullholand said after matching her personal best. “I would have been very happy if I gotten 5-5 today, but I was just a little bit short.”
Liberty-Benton freshman Alexis Rickenbacher was third in the pole vault at 11-8. Defending state champion Kassidie Stimmel won the event at 12-0.
“I feel like I vaulted pretty well, but not as good as I feel I can,” said Rickenbacher, who had a couple of near misses at 12-0. “I know I can get 12, but I pull off at the top. It’s just so frustrating.”