By Rob Kiser
COlUMBUS — Versailles senior Taylor Winner wouldn’t have it any other way — or with anyone different.
Winner, whose storied athletic career at Versailles has included state championship in volleyball, girls basketball and in the 1,600 relay track — will come to an end today in her favorite event.
With likely another trip to the podium.
After failing to advance to the finals in the 400 and 800 relays, the Lady Tiger foursome of Haley Winner, Kayley Ruschau, Taylor Winner and Camille Watren responded with the sixth fastest time of 4:03.80 to assure a spot in today’s Division II finals in the 1,600 relay at the state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Stadium.
“I have always loved the 1,600 relay,” Taylor Winner said. “A lot of times, it decides who wins the state championship (as it did two years ago when the team she ran on won to lock up the state team title). I guess it will probably help a little (not have to run the 400 and 800 relays first). I would have rather been running those races, but it all worked out.”
And she wouldn’t trade her teammates for anything.
“These are the greatest girls to run with,” Taylor Winner said. “They are amazing. They always have your back. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Haley Winner said the Lady Tigers were running with a purpose.
“We needed to get Kayley Ruschau up on the podium,” she said. “We want her to come back next year as a sophomore who is a state placer. So, we needed to do it for her. I was hoping to be running in three events tomorrow, but it is what it is.”
Ruschau is excited about the opportunity she will have.
“It was amazing to run on this track,” she said. “I can’t wait for tomorrow. I know it will be exciting and hopefully, we will do really well.”
Watren ran a strong anchor leg and held off several runners at the end.
“You do what you have to do to get to Saturday,” Watren, who had run on a relay and the open 400 earlier, said. “It (the anchor) is an exciting position — but it can also cause some anxiety. I think it is definitely going to help me tomorrow to be fresh for the 1,600 relay.”
Earlier, the 800 relay (Haley Winner, Cassie Peters, Taylor Winner) had the 10th fastest time of 1:45.39; the 400 relay (Peters, Taylor Winner, Valerie Francis, Haley Winner) had the 12th fastest time of 50.34; and Watren had the 11th fastest time of 59.91 to just miss the finals in those events.
The girls 3,200 relay (Taylor Winner, Emily Langenkamp, Murphy Grow, Madison Grilliot) finished 16th in 9:59.95; while in Division III competition in the morning the Versailles boys 3,200 relay (Trevor Noggle, Noah Pleiman, Mitchell Paulus, Richie Ware) had finished 13th, 8:19.01.
Freshman Josh Steinbrunner had just missed the finals of the 110 hurdles with the 10th fastest time, 15.39.
Ware will run in the D-III 800 this morning, while Jenna Frantz will compete in the D-II pole vault at 9:30 a.m.
Both are ranked second in their events.
Which will set the state for the D-II 1,600 relay at 3:15 p.m.
“It is really hard to describe (the opportunity to finish on the podium),” Taylor Winner said. “I guess the word would be undescribable.”
Just like her amazing athletic career.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.