LANCASTER — It was a day for firsts and lasts at the 2019 Division III Regional Track and Field Championships at Fairfield Union on Friday, as running events held their finals to determine who would make their way to State competition.
For Fredericktown senior Paden Spencer, it was his last Regional, and he celebrated with the fourth and final state-qualifying mark in the 1,600-meter run. For others, such as the young women on the Centerburg girls’ team, the day was bittersweet, as the joy of reaching this level in their first try mingled with the disappointment of not advancing further.
Spencer was the area’s only state-qualifier, running fourth in the 1,600 with time of 4:25.64 to earn his second-consecutive trip to State.
“That was quick,” Spencer said. “I knew it was going to be a battle going into it, and I really decided I was going to take it with about 125 meters to go. It didn’t work out that way, but I’m pretty happy with my performance, happy I got there. That was the goal at the beginning of the season.”
Spencer also performed in a relay for the Freddies, missing out of the day’s finals in each. He, Chance Campbell, Kailin Horlacher and Colton Riel were ninth in the preliminaries of the 4×400-meter relay (3:39.52). East Knox’s quartet of Dawson Moreland, Nathan Whitney, Cody Cockrell and Chase Darr did reach the event’s finals, but fell one spot short of advancing by placing fifth in 3:30.84.
The day was painful in more ways than one for the Trojan girls. Freshman Chloe Goulter, who qualified for three running events, suffered an injury last week, and that held her back on Friday.
“I strained by hamstring in the district finals, and it’s been hurting really bad ever since,” Goulter said. “It’s been hard to even fully sprint. I didn’t jump well at all because I couldn’t pick my leg up. It was pretty bad. I had to drop out of the 200 on Wednesday, and the 4×1 team also.”
Despite the injury, Goulter made a good showing, making the finals of the 100-meter dash, placing eighth in 13.19. Danville’s Alenah Boeshart was 11th (13.31) in the prelims. Goulter also teamed with upperclassmen Tori Walschott, Savannah Gammell and Linsey Dore in placing 13th in the 4×100 prelims.
“It was a great experience, just seeing those girls run,” Goulter said. “I know the senior I ran against out of Grove City (Christian, Callista Manns), she’s amazing, especially her hurdles, and she’s going to Cincinnati. Hopefully I can be as good as that when I’m a senior.”
Fellow freshman Abigail Dickhof competed in the 800-meter run, and her time of 2:23.98 placed her fifth, one spot from qualification. Another freshman, Avery Tucker, placed ninth in the 400 (1:01.67).
MaKenna Hennell, a sophomore for the Trojans, got to Regionals in the 1,600, but finished out of the running in 13th place (5:39.86). She and teammates Aeryn Walters, Dickhof and Tucker also ran 13th in the 4×400 (4:22.29), with the East Knox team of Molly Gebhardt, Emily Opfer, Ashley Van Hoose and Taylor Huggins taking 15th (4:31.44).
“I think today I felt really good a couple hours before, but I might have psyched myself out a little bit,” Hennell said. “I was kind of trying to think that everyone was running under the same conditions, and when I came in I was seeded 10th or 11th, so I’m going to give it my all ‘cause it very well could be my last race.
“My first split was a 74, which usually I’m at 79 or 81, so the first lap always feels good, but after that it kinda gets a little tough,” Hennell said. “I’m looking forward to next year and figuring out the strategy and getting a little stronger in the off-season.”
Van Hoose also competed in the 100 hurdles, placing 14th in the prelims in 17:08, and Opfer was 16th in the 300-meter hurdle prelims (52.20). Opfer, Madison Annett, Van Hoose and Alexandria Magers also took 10th in the 4×200-meter relay (1:53.32), just ahead of the 11th-place Danville squad of Boeshart, Haley Furay, Rachel Wilson and Brooklyn Hess (1:53.55).
Riel ran in three more events for the Freddie boys, missing the finals in the 300 hurdles in ninth place (43.57) and in the 110-meter hurdles in 12th place (16.72). He, Horlacher, Steven Tumbleson and Campbell were 12th in the 4×200 relay (1:37.60).
Fredericktown’s Connor Riley and East Knox’s Whitney were ninth place in their respective events, the 3,200-meter run (10:11.17) and the 800 (2:04.58).
Spencer and other State qualifiers will travel to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at The Ohio State University next week for the State championship.
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