By Rob Kiser
A year ago, Lehman Catholic freshman Alanna O’Leary got a taste of what the state track and field meet was all about at Jesse Owens Stadium, competing in the 200-meter dash.
One-year later, O’Leary is determined to finish her sophomore season on the podium.
O’Leary will compete in both the 400 and 200 semifinals on Friday.
And O’Leary will draw on that experience she gained a year ago.
“I think just having been through the experience and getting a feel for what it is about will (help her),” O’Leary said. “Last year, I had the setback in the 400 (at district). My coaches have helped me get past that and I appreciate that.”
Lehman coach Dwane Rowley said O’Leary is heading into state with some high goals.
“Last year will help her, but now she (Alanna O’Leary) is competing in two events,” he said. “Our regional is really tough, with the (Lauren) Heaton girl (from Russia) and Taylor (Middleton from Miami Valley). If you get out of our regional, you have a chance to do well at state.”
O’Leary’s qualifying time in the 400 of 58.40 is the seventh fastest time, with nine runners advancing on to Saturday’s finals.
“For sure (she expects to do well in the 400),” O’Leary said. “I look at the times (of other runners) a little just to get a feel for the other runners and how the race is going to go.”
In the 200, Heaton’s time of 26.62 is the 16th fastest time — but don’t make the mistake of counting O’Leary out.
“The plan is to to do well in the 400 — and then to do well in the 200,” she said. “I love running against girls like Lauren (Heaton) and Taylor (Middleton). They are two years older than me and they are both fierce competitors. They push me to be better.”
And Rowley expects that will be exactly what happens this weekend.
“Alanna (O’Leary) enjoys going against t hem because she is a competitor,” Rowley said. “Alanna understands to be the best, you have to beat the best. She looks forward to the challenge.”
Kimmel back at state
Covington sophomore Breanna Kimmel is back at the state meet.
After advancing on a relay team as a freshman, Kimmel will run in the 100-meter dash Friday morning.
“I never even thought about making it (to state in the 100) at the beginning of the year,” Kimmel said. “I didn’t expect that. Last year (the experience) is going to help me a lot. I have been through it.”
The way Kimmel sees it, the hardest part is over.
“Just getting to state was the goal,” she said. “Now, my goal is to run at state all four years.”
Kimmel goes in with the 15th fastest time of 12.76.
“I won’t even look at the times — if I did, I would just run slower,” Kimmel said. “I made it to state and now my goal is to make the finals.”
Covington coach Dave Tobias doesn’t concern himself with the numbers.
“You can worry about that at the state meet,” he said. “You just have to get a good start out of the blocks and run your race. The 100 wasn’t the event I expected Breanna to go in. But, she has worked hard at getting out of the blocks. She has great top end speed, so she can catch runners at the end. But, so can some of the other girls. The goal is to be running on Saturday (in the finals).”
Russia takes strong group
The Russia girls have a chance to make a number of trips to the podium this weekend — and a few of them could be a climb pretty high.
Former 400 state champion Lauren Heaton has the third fastest time in the 400, 57.29; and the 14th fastest time in the 200, 26.36.
Junior Grace York has the third fastest time in the 800, 2:14.73; while Heaton and York combined with Shaelyn Goubeaux and Molly Kearns for the fifth fastest time in the 3,200 relay, 9:35.63 — the event which will open the meet Friday morning.
Pole Vaulter Emily Bohman is tied for the fifth best qualifying jump of 11-0.
Kearns, coming off a school record performance in the 3,200 at the regional in 11:23.24, has the ninth fastest time in that event.
East sends two
Miami East junior Marie Ewing has the seventh fastest time in the 800, 2:16.12; while discus thrower Megan Kinnison has a deceiving 16th best throw of 111-9.
As a freshman, Ewing finished 14th in the 800 in 2:25.65, but an injury kept her away last season. At this year’s regional, she missed the school record in the event by 0.01 seconds, running a personal-best 2:16.12 to qualify in fourth place.
“She was definitely upset (about missing the school record),” Miami East girls track coach Preston Elifritz said. “But God’s just given her so much talent. Knowing she has another year left still, we just told her to put everything out there. Our region is a super-hot one with the times. No. 1, she wants the school record. And if she attains that, it will put her in a good spot to get on the podium.”
Kinnison finished 10th at the state meet last year.
“She had a lot going on that evening (at the regional),” Elifritz said. “Graduation was hanging heavy on her, but she knew she was talented enough to qualify. She wasn’t really loose and relaxed, and her first two throws were a reflection of how tense she was.
“This will be her second time there, and she was 10th last year. She’s looking to have a little fun with it. She has a personal best of 131-4, and she feels like she’s more than capable of getting onto the podium. There’s a lot of good competition, but if she throws a PR, that will put her on the podium for sure.”
Versailles girls advanced to the state meet in three relays.
The 800 relay (Ellen Peters, Cassie Peters, Liz Watren, Haley Winner) has the sixth fastest time, 1:44.35.
The 1,600 relay (Haley Winner, Cassie Peters, Emily Langenkamp, Haley Winner) has the ninth fastest time, 4:02.65; while the 400 relay (Cassie Peters, Ellen Peters, Jenna Frantz, Haley Winner) has the 15th fastest time, 50.15.