By Rob Kiser and David Fong
COLUMBUS — It capped an amazing career for Russia senior Lauren Heaton at the Division III state track and field championships.
And Heaton went out running the way she has for four years — giving it all she has.
A four time state placer in the 400-meter dash — and former state champion in both the 3,200 relay and 400, Heaton ran a 57.32 to finish third.
Micah Johnston of Toledo Christian won the race in a blazing 55.70, while Lynsey Shipley of Portsmouth was second in 57.02
“I felt like I was in good shape as the race went on,” Heaton said. “I saw the girl coming at the end. I just didn’t have anything left. It is what it is.”
Heaton was also a four-time state qualifier in cross country and three-year starter on the basketball team.
“I just went out, ran and had fun,” Heaton said. “I guess it (her accomplishments) are amazing when you look at it.”
York fifth in 800
Russia junior Grace York followed Heaton up to the podium with a fifth-place finish in the 800 in 2:16.54.
“I am pleased,” York said. “All the times are so close together, anything can happen.”
York, who like Heaton, was on the 3,200 relay team for Russia that placed fourth Friday, was in a big pack coming to the finish line together.
“You really couldn’t tell where you were until you were alongside everybody,” the junior said. “I am really thankful for the great season I had in track. To come over here and place at state, I am really excited about that. Now, I am going to work even harder for next year and see what happens.”
Ewing takes sixth
Being on the podium felt a whole lot better than being on a swingset.
One year ago, then-Miami East sophomore Marie Ewing injured her ankle jumping off a swingset a week before the Division III regional track and field meet. She competed at regionals, but a hobbled Ewing was only able to finish 10th, costing her a spot at the state meet after making it the year prior as a freshman.
“I haven’t been on a swingset since then,” Ewing said with a grin.
Instead, Ewing found herself in a much more desirable spot Saturday — standing on the podium at the Division III state track and field meet in Columbus after placing sixth in the 800 in a time of 2:16.67.
“This feels incredible,” Ewing said. “Being on the podium at state is something I’ve been dreaming of since the seventh grade. To actually get here feels amazing.”
Perhaps the year away from the state meet allowed Ewing to focus on the mistakes she had made as a freshman, when — by her own admission — Ewing came out “too nervous” and “too focused” the day of the meet.
“My plan this year was the total opposite of what it was my freshman year,” she said. “That year I was too nervous and just totally focused.
“I do think you can be too focused and overthink things. This year, I woke up relaxed and just wanted to have fun. That’s what I did, and it worked out for me.”
With a state medal in her pocket, Ewing is hoping that same strategy works out even better next season.
“I always said my goal was to get on the podium one year, then be on the top of the podium the next year,” she said. “That’s my goal for next year, to win.”
Kearns 11th in finale
Russia senior Molly Kearns, a third member of the 3,200 relay team that placed fourth Friday, finished her career Saturday with another strong race.
In a loaded field, Kearns finished 11th in the 3,200 with a time of 11:42.68.
Haley goes out Winner
In Division II action, an amazing career ended for Versailles senior Haley Winner.
And while Winner’s career has included both a team state championship and state championships on relays, Winner understands sometimes it is about the journey.
And the Versailles girls overcame a lot of adversity to send three relays teams to the state meet.
“When Camille (Watren) went down with an injury, I didn’t even know if we would make it to state,” Winner said. “I didn’t know if we would make it to regional finals. And we had all three relays make it to state again and two run in the state finals. It is a tremendous accomplishment.”
Winner, herself, fought through injuries the last two years.
The 400 relay didn’t make Saturday’s finals.
On Saturday, the foursome of Cassie Peters, Ellen Peters, Liz Watren and Winner combined for an eighth-place finish in the 800 relay in 1:45.87.
“We didn’t expect to make it here,” Ellen Peters said. “The goal was to make finals and get up on the podium and that is exactly what we did. The adrenaline rush (on the track) is even more than what you think. It felt great to make the podium.”
Winner got Versailles off to a fast start in the 1,600 relay, her final race.
She teamed with Emily Langenkamp, Watren and Cassie Peters and they were in second place at one time, before finishing ninth in 4:01.96.
“I really wanted for them to get on the podium,” Winner said. “But, I can’t complain. We ran a great race. Just to make the state finals was an accomplishment.”
And Winner had a lot of those in her career.
“Coach (Mike) Goubeaux was going over everything last night,” Winner said. “He said he didn’t know of anyone who had made it to state on three relays four straight years and accomplished what I did. I give props to these girls. There is nobody I would rather run with. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
And her teammates and coaches would say the same thing about a true “Winner”.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor at the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.