COLUMBUS, Ohio — For Ohio track and field athletes, there’s no better place for your high school career to end than on the podium Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
On Friday at the OHSAA state championship meet, Eastern senior Laura Pullins earned her spot on the podium, placing fifth in Division III high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 6 inches. Meanwhile, Gallia Academy senior Madi Oliver and Meigs’ 4x100m relay team of seniors Devyn Oliver and Sky Brown, and sophomores Taylor Swartz and Kassidy Betzing punched their tickets into Saturday’s Division II finals.
In the Division III high jump Pullins cleared her first two jumps of the day, at 5-0 and 5-2 respectively. She was one of 14 jumpers to attempt 5-4, the mark at which she finished in both the district and regional tournaments. Pullins cleared both 5-4 and 5-5 on her third attempts, and 10 jumpers were left in the competition headed into 5-6.
At 5-6, Pullins cleared the bar on her second try and was one of six competitors to attempt 5-7. Pullins and Ottoville’s Brooke Mangas — the 2015 and 2016 state champion in the high jump — both failed to clear 5-7, but Mangas needed three attempts to clear 5-6, giving Pullins fifth place on a tie-breaker.
Pullins has competed at the state meet in all four years of her high school career, but, until this year, had only made the podium as a part of two relay teams in her freshman year.
“I went from getting there my freshman year, then not doing anything the last two years, and finally getting back to the podium this year,” Pullins said. “I told Coach (Josh) Fogle ‘we started with a bang and we’re ending with a bang’. I was tied for ninth-or-10th at 5-5, getting to 5-6 is what brought me all the way up and I couldn’t be any more proud of myself for that.”
Emma Daugherty, a junior from Maumee Valley County Day, won the 2017 Division III high jump championship as the only jumper to clear 5-9.
Fellow Lady Eagles senior Alia Hayes placed 16th the shot put, with a distance of 36-5.50, which came on her first attempt of the day. Hayes needed a throw of at least 39-10.5 to reach the final of the shot put.
Hayes, who has now competed in three state tournaments, had her best finish coming in the shot put last season, when she was 10th in the state. Hayes’ mark on Friday was 5.5 inches shorter than her regional mark from a week ago.
McCombs’ Molly Leppelmeier won the 2017 shot put championship with a Division III state meet record of 49-0.
For the Blue Angels, Oiler is headed back to the Division II 300m hurdles state final, where she finished sixth as a sophomore. Oiler was eliminated in the semifinal heats last year, but wasn’t about to suffer the same fate as a senior.
Oiler’s time of 44.18 was the second fastest in her heat and overall, as she was just .27 seconds behind the pace set by Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Sara Foster. The top-two runners from each heat and the next five fastest times qualified for the final in the 300m hurdles.
In the Division II 4x100m relay, the Meigs quartet of Oliver, Betzing, Brown and Swartz posted a time of 49.99, matching the relay team’s regional time. Although the mark was tied for the ninth fastest time entering the meet, it was good enough for the Lady Marauders to take seventh out of the two semifinal heats on Friday.
With just eight teams advancing to the final in the 4x100m relay, the Lady Marauders qualified just .02 seconds ahead of eighth place and were .06 ahead of ninth place.
River Valley’s lone state qualifier, senior Isaiah Beach, missed qualifying for the Division II 110m hurdles final by just .12 seconds, posting time of 15.28. Beach, who had the 12th fastest mark headed into the event, finished with the 11th fastest time out of the two semifinal heats. The top-two runners from each heat and the next five fastest times qualified for the final.
Complete results of the OHSAA track and field championships can be found on the web at www.baumspage.com
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.