PHOTOS BY MATTHIAS LEGUIRE
OLD FORT’S Jenna Clouse clears the final hurdle while being chased by Continental’s Katie Keller, left, during the girls 300 low hurdles at Friday’s Division III regional girls track meet at Heidelberg University.

By TED RADICK

staff writer

TIFFIN — Old Fort’s Jenna Clouse had one thought as she settled into her blocks for the 300-meter low hurdles final at Friday’s Division III regional track and field meet at Heidelberg University.

“Good, clean start,” Clouse said. “I was thinking, I’d rather be late coming out of the blocks than early.”

At last year’s regional, Clouse’s junior season ended with a false start and disqualification in the 300 hurdles. She was determined not to let it happen again.

“So, I had a good start,” Clouse said. “I reacted off the gun, and it went well.”

Clouse was a double winner Friday, taking the 100 intermediate hurdles in 15.11to begin the running portion of the meet and following with a victory in the 300 hurdles in 44.70.

The top four finishers in each event finals, plus two at-large bids from the state’s four regions, advance to next week’s state championships at Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus.

Clouse said her wins made up for last year’s disappointment.

“It was more motivation to do better this year,” Clouse said. “We all made talk about it, that this was my revenge season. We weren’t messing around. I knew I wanted to win, and I just had that motivation.

“It’s awesome, just knowing all your hard worked paid off, finally. All the times I stayed late after practice, It’s just so rewarding to reach the goal you’ve been working for all year.”

Clouse knew she had strong competition in Continental’s Katie Keller in the 300. Clouse was running inside of Keller, in lane 4 to Keller’s lane 5, in the final.

“Yeah, I knew coming in that she was the one I had to catch, for sure,” Clouse said of Keller, adding that having the Pirate junior ahead of her at the start was an advantage.

“I think, for sure, because I’m one of those people that like to chase. Having somebody in front of me makes me want to go harder. That helped a lot, I think.”

Keller was second in 45.45, a personal best for her.

“I knew she was going to be my competition,” Keller said. “I knew on the backstretch that she was the one I had to get, and I thought I had her until the last curve hurdle.

“I hit it with my knee, and I could feel the blood running down my leg. I started to feel the pain, so I stopped pushing so hard.”

Both runners are raring to go for Columbus.

“The goal is to place in the top nine at state and get the school record (45.33 by Paige Ordway),” Keller said.

“This was always the end game for me,” Clouse said. “I knew I wanted to go to state, and regional finals was just so huge. I wanted it so bad after the letdown last year.”

Archbold won the girls team title with 56 points, with Columbus Grove second (50). Margaretta (48), Liberty-Beton (46), Arlington (311/2) and Genoa (30) rounded out the top six.

Leipsic’s Carlee Siefker set a meet record in the long jump on her second attempt of the preliminary round, busting an 18-103/4. Toledo Christian’s Micah Johnson set the previous record of 18-61/2 in 2016.

Siekfer, a senior who was a state placer as a sophomore, also had something to prove after a disappointing end to her junior year. Siefker failed to get out of the regional last year.

“Right before our league meet I pulled my quad, and I kept practicing and it just got worse,” she said. “I’ve been working hard since then, practicing every day.

“Every meet I try to go for 19 feet.”

Arcadia’s Samantha Watkins won a hotly contested discus competition with a toss of 140-2. Patrick Henry’s Trista Fintel was second (137-11) and defending state champion Chloe Miller of Liberty-Benton was third (133-8).

Both of the at-large bids to the state meet came from Tiffin, including Columbus Grove’s Madi Maag, who was fifth (129-1).

Watkins, Fintel and Maag also advanced in Wednesday’s shot put.

“I’m really excited for this, it’s going to be a great experience,” Watkins said. “It’s amazing, because most of us threw over 130 and not everyone who threw 130 is getting out. It’s just out of this world, I mean there’s girls in other regions who would love to throw 130 and we’re stuck here, trying to get out, and everyone’s throwing 130.”

Watkins has one goal for the coming week.

“Keep practicing, and hope I hit a bigger one,” she said.

Columbus Grove had two winners Friday. Alyssa Ellerbrock dominated the 3,200 with a victory in 11:25.21, with teammate Erin Downing also advancing in third in 11:38.36.

“This the first time this season I’ve just run the 3,200,” Ellerbrock said. “And the weather played a good part, it was a beautiful day today and I knew I could put down a good time.

“I was just hoping that last mile, I was thinking that this would be a good time to get a PR and that just pushed me through the last laps.”

Ellerbrock made a strategic decision to scratch the 1,600 and concentrate on the longer race.

“Last year I was sick at districts and didn’t run the 1,600, and It really helped me to have fresh legs for the 3,200,” said Ellerbrock, who was third at state in the 3,200 as a sophomore last year. “I knew that even if I qualified for the 1,600, I wouldn’t have run it at state to conserve for the two-mile. I figured I’d just be taking another girl’s spot. so I decided to scratch the mile tonight.”

Grove’s Rylee Sybert was second to advance in the 100 (12.65), and followed with a victory in the 200 in 25.75.

“It’s been kind of an emotional day, with what happened in the 4-x-1,” Sybert said of an exchange snafu that saw the Bulldogs finish last in that event. “Definitely a lot of mental prep for me tonight. I’m always kind of nervous, but with my teammates here and my block-holder talking to me and pumping me up, it just really helps.

“The 100, I was hoping to do better, which would be first, but that’s OK. The 200, I just really had to buckle down and know that I could do it.”

Sybert was 13th in the 100 at state last year and a medal-winning fifth in the 200 (25.49). She considers the 200 her better event.

“I like to stretch my legs out and get a little range,” she said. “The thing I focus on is getting out of my blocks and passing as many people on my right as possible. Runnng down the stretch, I just hear the crowd and I don’t notice anyone around me. I’m just thinking ‘go, go.’ In my head, I wasn’t going to let anyone come up from behind me.”

Other state qualifiers included:

• Liberty-Benton’s Alexis Rickenbacher, Ada Nora Dellifield and North Baltimore’s Jordan Bucher in the pole vault. Rickenbacher was second with a personal-record 12-4, Dellifield was fourth at 10-4 and Bucher earned an at-large bid to state in fifth a 10-4.

• Arlington’s Hannah Willow and Tiffin Calvert’s Zoe Meyer in the long jump. Willow was second (16-101/4) and Meyer fourth (16-61/2).

• Vanlue’s Bethany Smith qualified in three events, as she did last year. Smith was third in the 100 (12.70), fourth in the 200 (26.12) and second in the 400 (57.56). Smith placed seventh in the 400 at state last year and ran a personal best in the event Friday.

• Libety-Benton’s Taylor Ward was second with a PR in the 800 (2:17.21).

• Lakota’s Reilly Cozette was second in the 3,200 (11:38.42).

• Leipsic’s Lola Wensink was fifth in the 1,600 (5:18.46), but made it through with an at-large bid.

• Liberty-Benton qualified two relays. Lily Kintner, Cassie Warner, Alissa Rhodes and Brooke Deeter were third in the 800 relay in 1:47.73, and Rickenbacher, Ward, Kintner and Rhodes were second in the 1,600 relay in 4:05.86.

GIRLS TEAM STANDINGS

1, Archbold 56. 2, Columbus Grove 50. 3, Margaretta 48. 4, Liberty-Benton 46. 5, Arlington 31½. 6, Genoa 30. 7, Ayersville 28. 8, Sandusky St. Mary’s 25. 9, Patrick Henry & Liberty Center 24. 11, Old Fort & Vanlue 22. 13, Leipsic 21. 14, Norwalk St. Paul 19. 15, Arcadia 18. 16, Hicksville & Woodmore 15. 18, Swanton 14. 19, Northwood 13. 20, New London 12. 21, Fremont St. Joseph 11. 23, Paulding, Lakota & Holgate 10. 26, Continental 9½. 27, Tinora, Tiffin Calvert, Delta & Wayne Trace 7. 31, Edon & Van Buren 6. 33, Ada & Pettisville 5. 35, North Baltimore & Antwerp 4. 37, Elmwood & Fayette 3. 39, Pandora-Gilboa 2. 40, Edgerton 1.

AREA GIRLS TOP 8 FINISHES

DISCUS — 1, Watkins (Arc) 140-2. 2, Fintel (PH) 137-11. 4, Miller (L-B) 133-8. 5, Maag (CG) 129-1. 8, C. Rigel (Leip) 119-7.

LJ — 1, Siefker (Leip) 18-10¾ (regional record). 2, Willow (Arl) 16-10¼. 4, Meyer (TC) 16-6½. 6, Inbody (Arl) 16-3. 7, Basinger (P-G) 16-2¾.

PV — 2, Rickenbacher (L-B) 12-4. 4, Dellifield (Ada) 10-4. 5, Bucher (NB) 10-4. 7, Crawford (Arl) 9-6. 7, Collier (Cont) 9-6.

100 IH — 1, Clouse (OF) 15.11. 5, Willow (Arl) 15.93. 7, Rickenbacher (L-B) 16.69.

100 — 2, Sybert (CG) 12.65. 3, Smith (Van) 12.70. 5, Siefker (Leip) 12.80.

800 relay — 3, LibertyBenton (Kintner, Warner, Rhodes, Deeter) 1:47.73. 6, Elmwood (Hoffman, Hall, Plouck, Thrash) 1:48.53. 8, Arlington (Inbody, Beach, Jones, Green) 1:49.65.

1,600 — 5, Wensink (Leip) 5:18.46. 7, Harris (TC) 5:29.73.

400 relay — 7, Liberty-Benton (Warner, Rickenbacher, Rhodes, Bodie) 52.28. 8, Columbus Grove (Ridenour, Sybert, Vorst, Choi) 55.75.

400 — 2, Smith (Van) 57.56. 6, Franks (Van) 1:00.62. 7, Kintner (L-B) 1:00.70.

300 Lh — 1, Clouse (OF) 44.70. 2, Keller (Cont) 45.45. 5, Green (Arl) 47.48. 6, H. Baird (PH) 48.66.

800 — 2, Ward (L-B) 2:17.21. 7, Webster (VB) 2:24.78.

200 — 1, Sybert (CG) 25.75. 4, Smith (Van) 26.12. 5, Warner (L-B) 26.61.

3,200 — 1, Ellerbrock (CG) 11:25.21. 2, Cozette (Lak) 11:38.42. 3, Downing (CG) 11:38.86. 7, Wensink (Leip) 11:46.58.

1,600 relay — 2, Liberty-Benton (Rickenbacher, Ward, Kintner, Rhodes) 4:05.86. 7, Old Fort (Clouse, Baker, Lehner, Davidson) 4:11.83.

Radick, 419-427-8405

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