By TED RADICK
Pandora-Gilboa senior Kayla Ferguson had a difficult decision to make.
As it’s turned out, she probably made the right choice.
Ferguson, who competes in three relay races for the Rockets, was given the option as the track and field season hit the home stretch of continuing in the high jump or running the 400-meter dash.
Ferguson chose the 400, and she’s qualified for today’s final at the Division III regional meet in Tiffin. One race, one shot at a berth in the state meet.
“I had to choose between the high jump and the open 400,” Ferguson said. “I was one second away from breaking the school record in the 400, so I chose the open 4 rather than the high jump.
“And I broke the school record in 400 by a second, which is exciting, and then I got to choose again whether to run the 400 or high jump at the district meet. I thought I could get farther in the open 4 than high jump, so that’s why I made that decision.”
Ferguson ran a 1:01.16 in Wednesday’s preliminary race to qualify for tonight’s 400 final with the sixth-best time.
The top four finishers in each running event automatically qualify for the state meet. Also, two at-large bids are up for grabs across the state’s four regionals.
There’s work to be done to get into the top four, and Ferguson knows it.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “My goal is to get a 1-minute flat. There’s a girl from Vanlue (Bethany Smith) who I really, really want to beat. I just tell myself to stick with her and give it all I’ve got at the end.
“So, we’ll see what happens.”
Ferguson will also compete with teammates Addilyn Diller, Olivia Schulte and Alaina Basinger in today’s 400 relay. The Rockets were sixth in the event at state last year.
Again, the Rockets enter with the No. 6 seed time. Ferguson thinks P-G can pick up some time as it smooths out its handoffs due to a revamped lineup.
“It’s kind of hard because one of our teammates got hurt,” Ferguson said.
Senior Amelia Arthur pulled a hamstring at the district meet.
“We were so used to these girls and our handoffs, and then we realized we had to switch it up,” Ferguson said. “We had to get used to the new handoffs. I think we’re doing well right now, but there’s definitely room for improvement. I think if we keep working on these handoffs and get them smooth, then we’ll be OK.
“We all really want it really bad. I think that want, and drive, will really help us.”
REGIONAL SCHEDULE: Tonight’s field events begin at 5 p.m. at Tiffin’s Frost-Kalnow Stadium. That includes the girls discus, long jump and pole vault, and the boys shot put and high jump. Running event finals begin with the girls 100 intermediate hurdles at 6 p.m.
SEED TIMES: Two area girls have the top preliminary times entering tonight’s finals. Smith ran 58.39 in the 400 and Continental’s Katie Keller went 47.07 in the 300 low hurdles. Smith in the 200 (26.47) and Basinger in the 100 (12.84) had the No. 2 prelim times. Liberty-Benton’s 1,600 relay also had the No. 2 prelim time (4:06.98).
The 800, 1.600 and 3,200 runs did not have preliminary races. Kalida’s Taylor Lucke had the second-fastest time in the 1,600 from districts at 5:18.80.
FIELD EVENTS: Liberty-Benton freshman Alexis Rickenbacher enters the pole vault with the best mark from districts at 11-7. Returning Division III state champion Kassidie Stimmel of Margaretta went 11-6 at the Sandusky Perkins District.
Liberty-Benton’s Chloe Miller threw 139-2 at the Findlay district and enters today with the top seed mark. Arcadia’s Samantha Watkins enters with the No. 2 seed at 131-6, with Arcadia’s Maddie Yaple third at 126-5.
Liberty-Benton’s Lindsey Bishop (16-61/4) and Leipsic’s Carlee Siefker (16-6) have the third- and fourth-best long jump district marks.
HAYDEN ADVANCES IN D2: Upper Sandusky’s Kenedi Hayden, the only area Division II competitor in action on Thursday, qualified for Saturday’s final in the 300 intermediate hurdles at Lexington.
Hayden moved on with the fourth-best time as she crossed the finish line in 48.41 seconds. She’ll be joined by teammate Dylan Ham (boys shot put) during Saturday’s competition.
Ottawa-Glandorf’s Grace Hoffman (girls discus), Caleb Verhoff (boys shot put) and Brent Siefker (1,600 run) will represent the Titans in the Division II regional at Piqua on Saturday.