COLUMBUS, Ohio — Another memorable weekend at Ohio State University.
Fresh off the school’s first-ever state championship in girls basketball, the Eastern Lady Eagles came away with the program’s first points in a state meet following Day 1 of the 2014 OHSAA Division III Track and Field Championships being held at Jesse Owens Stadium in Franklin County.
The Lady Eagles earned five points in the very first race of the day Friday as the quartet of Keri Lawrence, Laura Pullins, Taylor Palmer and Maddie Rigsby picked up fourth place in the 4x800m relay final with a time of 9:33.22. That fourth place finish is also as high as any Eastern athlete has finished at the state level.
The same foursome also advanced to Saturday’s final in the 4x400m relay event after finishing fourth in their heat with a time of 4:05.51. The Lady Eagles own the seventh fastest time in the nine-team final headed into Day 2.
In becoming the first Eastern females to score at the state track meet, the memories were collectively unique to each of the team members.
“This means a lot because the last two years we’ve been here and we’ve done awful,” Rigsby, a senior, said. “We were 11th last year in the 4x800 and would’ve been worse had someone else not been disqualified. This means a lot because of the history, but also because we were never really close before.”
The 4x800m relay teams from EHS finished 11th last year and 15th out of 16 teams in 2012. Rigsby, fellow senior Lawrence and Palmer — a junior — were all members of those previous state qualifiers.
“I’m happy with our finish, given where we have come in over the last few years,” Lawrence said. “We’ve worked really hard this year and had a better team overall. It’s a first for all of us, which feels really good.”
Palmer was also happy to see all of the past failures get rewarded on Friday.
“We knew we had a better chance this year to score than all the other years, and we were a little nervous about that coming in,” Palmer said. “We came in and did what we needed to, and then we were all really excited about finally being up there on the podium.”
The final member of the history-making quartet was Pullins, who missed an individual podium spot in the high jump Friday after placing 10th overall with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches.
Though disappointed with her third event of the day, Pullins was still optimistic about scoring in one event and having another chance at points on Saturday.
“It’s been a pretty awesome day overall, although I had some early troubles in the high jump,” Pullins said. “We came in confident that we were going to place and get on the podium. We have done that once and have another chance to do it again, so we will have a little more to shoot for more.”
Lawrence will also have a chance at points on Saturday as she enters the 800m final with the ninth fastest time from the 16 competitors.
The Lady Eagles are currently tied with Troy Christian for 18th place in the D-3 standings with five points. McDonald leads the girls standings with 29 points, while Lima Central Catholic is ahead in the D-3 boys race with 18 points.
Results from Day 2 of the 2014 OHSAA Division III Track and Field Championships will be available in the Tuesday sports editions of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
OVP sports writer Alex Hawley contributed to this report.