By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
AKRON — Covington seniors Lane White and Jackie Siefring will enter the spring track and field season with something to prove.
And they will head into it with plenty of momentum as both won state indoor track titles in the Division II-III meet at Akron on Saturday.
White had entered last spring full of optimism after a second-place finish in the 400 at the state indoor meet — and seemed well on his way to a big season in the spring before injury cut his season short.
He was able to come back and anchor the 1,600-meter relay team to a spot on the podium at state, but was unable to compete in any individual events because he couldn’t run at district and regionals to qualify.
“Basically, I just want to stay healthy and avoid injury,” White, who signed to run with Hilldsdale College in Michigan last month.
White started his day in the 400-meter dash with a personal best 48.90 to win the state title.
“Yes, it was (a goal to win the 400),” White said. “I finished second last year and the guy who beat me graduated. That is the fastest time I have ever run in the 400. My goal was to get down under 49 and I did that.”
Unlike outdoors, where the 400 is a one-lap race — indoor tracks aren’t as long.
“Most of them are 200 meters, so it is two laps,” White said. “Akron is actually 300 meters, so it was more like a lap-and-a-half.”
Jack Lint of Columbus Academy was second in 49.68, while Jaquan Lavender of Steubenville and Richard Johnson of Harvest Prep also broke 50.
“I could feel them coming at the end,” White said. “It is hard to pass on a such a tight track. So, my goal was to be in front coming off the last turn and hold them off and that is what I did.”
White followed that with a third-place finish in the 200 in 22.67.
Carl Zallow of John F. Kennedy and Curtis Boyd of Dunbar were first and second in 22.29 and 22.41.
“I was pretty tired after the 400,” White said. “I just went out and ran as hard as I could.”
White likes where he is at heading into the spring.
“I wouldn’t say it raises my goals,” White said. “They were already pretty high. The biggest thing is I want to stay healthy and be able to compete at state.”
That Siefring is competing at the highest level — just six months removed from an ACL injury — is impressive enough.
Just days after placing at the state track meet for the third time last spring — finishing third in the 300 hurdles and fourth in the long jump — she tore her ACL playing basketball.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think about my knee at all,” she said. “I had a great surgeon and a great therapist. It is just like any other body part, once you get it warmed up, it is fine. It is something I would rather not have to deal with, but it is what it is.”
Siefring won the long jump Saturday with a jump of 17-6 1-2.
She got that on her second attempt in prelims and passed on all her attempts in the finals, as no one else got to the 17-foot mark.
“I am kind of up an down in the long jump, so I didn’t know (how she would do),” Siefring said. “I actually fouled on my first attempt (and added a 17-5 1-2 on her third attempt). My first attempt was even longer I think. It is about where I was at state last spring, so I am happy with that.”
Siefring faced some familiar rivals.
Troy Christian sophomore Meredith Haddad — who was fifth at the state meet last spring — finished second in 16-9 1-2; while Bradford’s Shay LaFollette was sixth in 16-5.
“Actually, I was kind of surprised to see Meredith (Haddad) there,” Siefring said. “She is so good for as young as she is and a lot of fun to compete against.”
Siefring added a fifth-place finish in the 60 hurdles, 9:14; a seventh-place finish in the 60 dash, 8.09; and an eighth-place finish in the 400, 61.18.
“I could have run better, but it is what it is,” Siefring said. “Indoors is not a springboard into the spring season.”
And for Siefring, the goal is a simple one.
“I want to win something at state this spring,” she said. “I have been there four times — I want to win something this time.”
A goal she shares with White — and after Saturday, there is no reason to think that won’t be the final outcome.