By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
COLUMBUS — Russia sophomore Lauren Heaton took a dive Jesse Owens Stadium Saturday in the D-III girls 400-meter state final.
And the gold medal around her neck made it worth a little blood on the shoulder after she won her second state title in two years.
“A little blood doesn’t hurt anything,” Heaton said, pointing to her shoulder. “I saw the girl from Columbus School for Girls (Eleanor Smith) coming out of the corner of my eye and just decided I better dive across the line.”
A few seconds later it was posted on the video board that Heaton had won in 57.29, dethroning defending champ Colleen Reynolds of Gibsonburg, who was fourth in 57.56. as the Russia crowd let out a big cheer.
Smith was clocked in 57.33, while Maggie Poorman of Smithville took third, also clocked in 57.56.
“That (when the crowd reacted) was when I knew I had won,” Heaton said. “It felt great.”
The motivation started last year when Heaton came to state with the fastest qualifying time as a freshman last spring and finished seventh.
“I have been focused on state all year,” Heaton said. “As soon as basketball was over, I just focused on track and this meet.”
Also in the field was 2012 champion Jennilyn Krumpe of Kinsman Badger, who finished seventh in 58.47.
“That’s a lot of pressure,” Heaton said. “I knew I was behind (coming off the curve). I didn’t plan it. I just knew if I wanted to win, I had to go.
“That girl (Eleanor Smith) is really good. I like running against all of them. I saw her coming out of the corner of my eye and knew I had better dive..”
Heaton had anchored the Russia 3,200 relay to a state title as a freshman.
“Running at state is great,” Heaton said. “But, winning two state titles. That’s indescribable. I guess I need to come back next year and do it again.
Russia junior hurdler Leah Francis turned in a repeat performance, finishing fourth at the 100 hurdles in 15.21.
“I was pretty happy with my race,” Francis said. “All those girls are really good. I didn’t get my school record, but it was still a good time.”
Francis has high hopes for next season.
“Everyone who finished in front of me was a senior,” Francis said. “Let’s just say I have big expectations for next year.”
Despite battling an injury midway through the season, Russia junior Emily Borchers finished seventh in the 3,200 in 11:30.18.
“I wanted to stay with the front two girls, but it was tough,” Borchers, who also ran on the state championship relay team last year, said. “This is my first time running the 3,200 at state. With my injury, the 1,600 just wasn’t going to work.
“I would have like to run faster, but I will take my time. Getting on the podium is a good thing.
“That (getting on the podium) is what all three of us were shooting for and we did that.”
Even if there was a little blood along the way.