By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
COLUMBUS — The Versailles girls track and field team thrives on the team philosophy.
They demonstrated that again Friday, advancing three teams to relay today’s finals in the D-II state track and field championships.
“I think we all work really hard on our handoffs,” Versailles sophomore Haley Winner said. “I think we all get along well and enjoy showing what we can do as a team.”
The Versailles 1,600 relay (Haley Winner, Camille Watren, Taylor Winner, Amanda Winner) had the second fastest time of 3:58.16. All but Watren ran on last year’s 1,600 relay state championship team in D-III.
“I think I have a lot more confidence this year,” Haley Winner said about her second year at state. “I am a lot more comfortable.”
The 800 relay (Lauren Bohman, Watren, Amanda Winner, Haley Winner) has the fourth fastest time of 1:43.51; and the 400 relay (Bohman, Watren, Valerie Francis, Haley Winner) has the eighth fastest time of 50.06.
“I thought we ran nearly a perfect race in the 800 relay,” Bohman, a state track veteran, said. “I am glad we made the finals in the 400 relay. I knew it was going to be close. It is never easy over here. You still have to run a perfect race.”
Russia’s Lauren Heaton and Leah Francis will look to make return trips to the podium today.
Heaton won her heat and had the third fastest time in the 400, 58.09. Last year, she finished seventh in the 400 after entering finals with the fastest time.
“I think maybe a little bit,” Heaton said about last year’s experience helping. “I definitely want to get higher on the podium.”
Colleen Reynolds of Gibsonburg (57.64) and Maggie Poorman of Smithville (58.03) ran in the other heat Friday.
“We all know each other and get along well,” Heaton said about the final. “It is going to be a fun race.”
Francis was fourth in the 100 hurdles a year ago and had the sixth fastest time Friday (15.40) in advancing to the finals.
“I would havc liked to have run faster, but I was happy with my time,” Francis said. “I set the school record in the prelims at regionals. You would always like to finish higher (than the year before), but I think the main goal is to get on the podium. I would love to get down in the 14s, but that will be tough.”
Heaton and Francis teamed with Karissa and Kirstin Voisard for the 11th fastest time in the 800 relay, 1:47.85; and Heaton had the 15th fastest time in the 200, 26.77.
“I knew it would be tough to make the finals in those events, but you have to give it a shot,” Heaton said.
Bradford’s Shay LaFollette has done just about everything at the state meet — but make a trip to the podium.
The Lady Railroaders four-time state qualifier gets one more shot after tying for the seventh fastest time in the 100 hurdles on Friday, 15.54.
“Last year, I made the finals,” LaFollette said. “I got bumped, then fell over a hurdle — it is a tragic story. I am working on my starts. Hopefully, I can get a better start tomorrow.”
And have a happy ending.