MATTHIAS LEGUIRE / for The Courier
LIBERTY-BENTONS Taylor Ward hands the baton to Maya Rickle for the the anchor leg of the girls 3,200-meter relay. The Eagles were sixth in the race.

By TED RADICK

staff writer

COLUMBUS — The week of the OHSAA state track and field championship is no time to get sick.

Vanlue’s Bethany Smith found that out the hard way Friday.

Smith gutted out her preliminary heat in the Division III 400-meter dash at Jesse Owens Stadium to qualify for today’s final. Smith had the ninth and final qualifying time of 59.08.

“I have kind of a head cold right now. That’s not an excuse, but it does make it harder to run when you’re not feeling your best,” Smith said. “I’ve been taking medication and trying to get plenty of rest. I’m feeling better each day, so hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be even better. I’m feeling almost 100 percent, just a bit stuffy still.”

Smith failed to advance in the 100 and 200. The 400, though, is her bread-and-butter event.

“I mean, I gave it my all, but I haven’t been concentrating on those to qualify for the final,” she said of the shorter sprints.

Smith is ready to just concentrate on her top event.

“I’m tired of running three events,” she said with a laugh. “I mean, I love it, but it takes a lot out of you.

“If I get my 57 (-second time) tomorrow, I’ll be OK.”

Liberty-Benton got the day started in the meet’s first final, the 3,200 relay. Alexa Lenhart, Lindsey Bishop, Taylor Ward and Maya Rickle placed sixth in 9:38.90.

“It’s really exciting,” Lenhart said. “This has always been my goal, to be all-Ohio, and it finally came through today.”

Hearing this, Bishop shot a big smile at Lenhart. Both are seniors; this was Bishop’s sixth state medal and she added another later Friday in the high jump.

“I didn’t realize that,” Bishop said of Lenhart getting on the podium. “Everyone always remembers their first state medal.

“Alone, none of us probably could have done it, except probably Taylor. And we’ll see her do that again tomorrow. Together, we’re so strong. That’s what makes the 4×8 so special, or any relay for that matter.”

Liberty-Benton coach Jack Quisno is missing the meet due an illness in his family. Lenhart said the Eagles ran with him in mind.

“You know, we really ran today for Quisno because he couldn’t make it here today,” she said. “We wanted to make him proud.

“I’m proud of my team for doing this.”

Three individual girls, including Smith, and one relay advanced from preliminary heats to today’s finals. Columbus Grove’s Carlee McCluer in the 300 low hurdles, Grove’s Rylee Sybert in the 200 and L-B’s 1,600 relay team all got through.

McCluer advanced with the seventh-best prelim time of 46.08.

“I knew coming into the 300, I was sitting up pretty high,” McCluer said of her seed time from last week’s regionals. “It really helped to have two girls on each side of me with seed times in the 44s. I was in the 45s. So, it helped that I knew if I just stuck with them, I’d get into the finals OK. And, that’s what I did.

“I think tomorrow, I feel like I’ll be faster with fresh legs,” McCluer said. “Today, I ran four events. Yeah, I’ll get my legs rested up and tomorrow I’ll put it all out there.”

Sybert, sixth at state in the 200 last year, advanced in seventh place in 26.09.

“It’s crazy, the highs and lows today,” said Sybert, who ran on Grove’s 800 and 1,600 relay teams that did not advance. “I’m just glad we got here and we had the chance to compete.”

Sybert was running a bit blind in her 200 heat.

“I was in lane eight, so I had almost everyone behind me at the start,” she said. “I felt pretty good on the curve. I knew the other girls would be coming up on my side, so I just had to stay with them.”

Like McCluer, Sybert has just one race today to focus on. In last year’s 200, she qualified ninth to the final before picking up three places to make the podium.

“I ran a 25.7 here last year, so I’m hoping to do better than that,” she said. “I just want to get better. I think I can jump a couple of places, I did it once and hopefully I can do it again.”

Liberty-Benton’s 1,600 relay team of Lenhart, Ward, Lily Kintner and Alexis Rickenbacher was second in its heat and third overall in 4:01.61.

“We’re pretty happy. We got a new PR, too,” Kintner said. “All of us have been working really hard to come here.

“We were really focused, and the other teams pushed us to go faster. Tomorrow, I believe that we can get a new PR. Every time we run the 4×4 we seem to get new PRs. We’ll just try to go harder and faster tomorrow.”

GIRLS TEAM STANDINGS

THROUGH 6 OF 17 EVENTS

1, Liberty-Benton 20. 2, Newton Falls 19. 3, MInster 18. 4, Swanton 16. 5, Wheelersburg 13. 6, Malvern 12. 7, Margaretta 10. 8, Lewisburg Tri-County North & Mount Gilead 8. 10, Delaware Christian, Seneca East, Covington, Gates Mills Gilmour Academy, Leipsic & West Lafayette Ridgewood 8. 16, Mohawk 6. 17, Lore City Buckeye Trail, Botkins, McDonald & Portsmouth 5. 21, Maumee Valley Country Day & Hanoverton United 4. 23, Pettisville 4. 24, Arcadia, Pitsburg Franklin Monroe & New Bremen 3. 27, Hicksville, Glouster Trimble, Norwalk St. Paul & Grove City Christian 2. 31, Delphos St. John’s, Ayersville, Gahanna Columbus Academy & Archbold 1. 35, Galion Northmor & Spencerville .

FRIDAY’S FINALS (CHAMPS & AREA FINISHES)

3,200 RELAY — 1, Minster (Francis, Albers, Watcke, Magoto) 9:18.41. 6, Liberty-Benton (Bishop, Lenhart, Rickle, Ward) 9:38.90. 13, Mohawk (Oler, Stillberger, Konkle, Fredritz) 9:55.03. 15, Columbus Grove (Downing, Ellerbrock, Ellerbrock, Benroth) 10:01.30. 18, Hopewell-Loudon (Pace, Leiter, Kapelka, Hoover) 10:23.42.

DISCUS — 1, Miller (L-B) 140-2. 6, Watkins (Arc) 127-4. 9, Yaple (Arc) 120-6.11, Maag (CG) 120-2. 14, Hanneman (Otto) 114-2.

HJ — 1, Smith (Swanton) 5-7. 3, Mullholand (Moh) 5-4. 8, Bishop (L-B) 5-2.

LJ — 1, Ruby (Wheelersburg) 18-6. 16, Inbody (Arl) 15-.

PV — 1, Stimmel (Margaretta) 12-0. 3, Rickenbacher (L-B) 11-8.

SHOT — 1, Kline (Newton Falls) 46-3. 2, Rigel (Leip) 46-0. 9, Brooker (NB) 38-1.

SATURDAY’S AREA PRELIM FINISHES

TOP 9 TO FINALS

100 IH — 11, McCluer (CG) 15.35. 14, Watson (Lak) 15.62.

100 — 12, Basinger (P-G) 12.86. 13, Sybert (CG) 12.95, 16, Smith (Van) 13.13.

800 RELAY — 14, Columbus Grove (Benroth, McCluer, Ellerbrock, Sybert) 1:48.48. 17, Carey (Nash, Norden, Gibson, Lykins) 1:49.07. 18, Liberty-Benton (Warner, Bishop, Kintner, Masterlasco) 1:50.22.

400 — 9, Smith (Van) 59.08. 11, Lykins (Car) 59.29. 18, Schweller (Otto) 1:01.54.

300 LH — 7, McCluer (CG) 46.08. 13, Keller (Cont) 47.21.

200 — 7, Sybert (CG) 26.09. 16, Smith (Van) 27.60. 17, Berheide (Kal) DQ.

1,600 RELAY — 3, Liberty-Benton (Kintner, Ward, Lenhart, Rickenbacher) 4:01.61. 15, Mohawk (Oler, Stillberger, Klopp, Konkle) 4:13.34. 17, Columbus Grove (Benroth, Ellerbrock, Sybert, McCluer) 4:15.31.

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