By Rob Kiser
DAYTON —Ashley Ho had mixed emotions as the moment she was dreaming off transpired at the Division I regional track and field meet Wednesday at Welcome Stadium.
Ho would finish third in the high jump to qualify for state, clearing 5-5; while Tristen Cox just missed qualifying for state in the discus, finishing sixth with a throw of 151-0.
Ho, who had missed her first attempt at 5-4, cleared her second attempt when nine jumpers still remained.
“I felt like if I had gotten through 5-4 clean, I would make it (to state),” Ho said. “So after I missed on the first attempt, I was really pushing myself.”
Little did she know that the six jumpers with two more jumps left at 5-4, would all miss and go out at that height, leaving Ho as one of just three jumpers left and clinching her trip to state.
“It has been a dream for three years,” Ho said. “At the same time, I never root against anyone. I wanted all those girls to make it.”
When Talawanda’s Valerie Green missed on her final attempt at 5-4, it assured her trip to state.
Green would later win a jump off with Troy’s Dasia Cole for the final spot to state.
“It didn’t really hit me,” Ho said. “Then my coaches started going wild.”
Ho would then make her first attempt at 5-5.
“I think it probably took the pressure off a little (knowing she was going to state),” Ho said. “It felt good to make it.”
She was then close on her final two attempts at 5-6.
J’Alyiea Smith of Withrow and Angela Ruffin of Sycamore both cleared 5-6.
“It has been my goal all year,” she said. “So, definitely it will be a goal to get at state.”
A seed that was planted when Ho shocked everyone by winning the district high jump as a sophomore.
“Before that, it was all volleyball,” she said with a laugh. “I think that (getting to state) was the hope.”
Piqua girls track and field coach Courtney Downs never had a doubt.
“You could see if she made 5-4 that was going to be good enough,” she said. “That is why that was so big when she made 5-4. It doesn’t matter if you finish second, third or fourth. She is going to state. She has never even made it up on the podium here before.”
And Downs couldn’t think of anyone she would rather see accomplish that goal.
“The thing is Ashley (Ho) is just a great kid,” Downs said. “She truly is one of the best kids I have ever coached. Her sportsmanship is better than anyone. We never root against anyone.”
And Downs saw how close she was at 5-6.
“She is going to get it,” Downs said. “No doubt. She will get it at state.”
It really hadn’t hit Ho that she will be jumping at Jesse Owens Stadium.
“I have never even thought about it,” Ho said. “I can’t tell you what it will be like. I really have no idea.”
But, what has been a dream for three years is about to become a reality.
Cox finishes with best
Cox, a Piqua senior headed to Elon to play football, saved his best throw of the year for last despite some difficult conditions in the rain Wednesday, firing a 151-0 on his final throw.
“It felt really good,” Cox said. “It is my best this year. I had a similar throw last year. I am just not sure about the inches. You can’t think about it (the discus slipping in the rain). You just have to step up there and throw.”
Piqua coach Scott Kaye was pleased with Cox’s performance.
Cox throws in prelims were 145-6, 148-6 and 148-4 in the prelims.
“I know he has been thinking about college football,” Kaye said. “But, he has worked hard. He had a really solid set of throws in the prelims. He had a great throw to finish with. He just came up a little short (of state).”
And Cox looks forward to the future.
“I am going to be working hard all summer to get ready for college football,” Cox said. “I am excited about that.”
After making his final throw in a Piqua uniform one of his best.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.