By Rob Kiser
COLUMBUS — Many athletes may be bothered by the pressure and atmosphere of Jesse Owens Stadium and the Division III state track and field meet.
Covington junior Jett Murphy thrives on it.
After clearing a school record 14-4 as a sophomore and finishing fourth, Murphy turned in another school record performance Friday, clearing 14-10 for another school record and taking another step up on the podium.
“I feel pretty good about what I did today,” Murphy said. “I didn’t have a miss until 15-2.”
Murphy was one of three vaulters to clear 14-10.
“I felt like that was going to be a pretty important jump,” he said. “At 15-2, those thoughts (of winning a state championship) were running through my head if I made it. But, I am happy with what I did today.”
He still has one big goal left to accomplish.
“I still didn’t get 15-feet,” Murphy said with a smile about his goal coming into state. “But, I can get that next year.”
For Covington high jumper Zach Parrett, he made the big jumps when he needed to Friday.
Parett cleared both 6-2 and 6-3 on his final attempts to secure eighth place and a spot on the podium.
“It feels really good,” Parrett said. “It definitely makes it harder jumping over here in front of a big crowd. Definitely, I am hoping to come back next year.”
Cade Harshbarger is running on championship day of the Division III state track and field championships — just not in the event he expected.
Harshbarger felt like the 300 intermediate hurdles was the strong of his two events, but instead in the made the finals of the 110-meter high hurdles.
Harshbarger had the sixth fastest time of 15.23.
“It was one-hundreth a second off (of his PR),” Harshbarger said. “I didn’t make the finals last year, so it feels good to make the finals.”
Harshbarger missed by one-hundreth of a second of making the finals in the 300 hurdles.
His time of 40.54 was the 10th fastest.
“It was hot, but I am not going to make excuses,” Harshbarger said. “The 300 hurdles ended up being a tough race. I am glad I made the finals in the 110s.”
The Covington boys 1,600 relay also advanced to the finals, with the fastest time of 3:27.41.
The team of Zane Barnes, Gray Harshbarger, Jayce Pond and Nathan Lyle finished third in their heat, with Lyle holding off the Columbus Academy anchor.
“Every spot counts,” Lyle said with a smile. “The heat was really tough today.”
“It was really, really hot,” he said. “It feels good to be running in the finals, because we have been here and not made the finals.”
And they look forward to today’s challenge.
“We have got one more in us,” Harshbarger said with a smile.
“For sure,” Barnes said.
Lauren Christian finished her sophomore season with a bang, uncorking a put of 40-4 1-4 — breaking her own school record — to finish sixth.
“It feels great to be on the podium,” Christian, who had finished 14th in the discus earlier in the day with a throw of 112-1.
“I don’t really like the discus,” Christian said. “So, I wasn’t expecting to do that well.”
Christian was ninth going into the finals of the shot put, before getting her big put on her second attempt in finals.
“It was a little confusing, because they had the wrong distance for me,” she said. “They had me eighth up on the board. I thought I heard the women say 40-4 1-4, but I wasn’t sure. So, I thought I was eighth. When they told me I was sixth, that was cool.”
Christian hopes to do even better next year.
“Definitely,” she said. “Right now, I am just happy with my throw today and getting up on the podium. It has been a really good year.”
One goal down, one to go
The Covington girls 1,600-meter relay team advanced to today’s finals, with the seventh-fastest time of 4:03.22.
Rayna Horner, Morgan Lowe, Paige Boehringer and Breanna Kimmel finished second in their heat behind Anna.
“That’s who we ran with at regionals and again today,” Horner said. “It was really hot out there today.”
And the Lady Buccs locked up one of the two automatic spots from their heat.
“The goal was to be in the top two,” Kimmel said. “It would have been nice to win the heat, but we are running tomorrow. That is nice, because I have been over here before and not made finals.”
Lowe, a freshman, can’t wait.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said about running at state.
“It is great to be in the finals,” she said. “I had run at state in cross (country), but not in track.”
Horner said today can only benefit them down the road.
“We are a young team,” she said. “This is going to be a great experience for us to run in the finals. We are all going to be back next year.”
Horner advanced to the finals of the 400.
Horner has the fourth fastest time of 58.47.
“Actually, I felt really good about the way I ran,” she said. “I knew the girl next to me ran in the 57s, so I knew I had to go. We will see what happens tomorrow.”
Covington’s Breanna Kimmel didn’t advance to the finals of the 100, finishing 16th in 13.03.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.