By Rob Kiser
A fast start, a lean and a glance.
That was the formula that led Versailles junior hurdler Josh Steinbrunner to the top of the podium at the Division II state track and field championships Saturday at Jesse Owens Stadium.
Steinbrunner won the 1110-meter high hurdles state championshiorace in 14.54, while Jacob Mally of Woodridge ran a 14.58 and Colin McCullough of Galion ran a 14.61.
“That was amazing,” Steinbrunner said with a big smile. “I got off to a great start, whic was good because I needed to. They both had great starts.”
As they came to the finish line, Steinbrunner leaned at the line and glanced up at the scoreboard to wait for the results.
“We all hit hurdles in the race,” Steinbrunner said. “I think the difference was, I hit less hurdles. At the end, I could only see the two lanes next to me. So, I looked up and it was good news.”
A very different result than the last two years, when he finished 10th in the semifinals and missed the finals by one spot.
“It is really hard to explain,” he said. “All I can say is this is a completely different feeling than the last two years. I was happy to finally make finals.”
Now, he hopes for even more next year.
“I want to get stronger in the 300 hurdles so I can make the finals in both,” he said. “That is the goal for next year.”
And it completes a journey that started by following in his brother Zach’s footsteps.
“I have been hurdling since seventh grade,” Steinbrunner said. “I saw my older brother Zach doing it and it looked like fun. I guess I am just a natural hurdler. Never, ever did I expect to win a state championship. This is amazing.”
Steinbrunner wasn’t the only Versailles boy to finish high on the podium.
Spitzer takes third
Joe Spitzer finished third in the 3,200 in 9:31.91 after coming in with the fastest qualifying time.
“I wasn’t even over here last year,” Spitzer said. “So, to finish third, I am really happy with that. It was a lot hotter today than it had been at most of the races. I am really happy with the race I ran.”
Mike Laughlin of Carroll — who beat Spitzer at district, only to have Spitzer turn the tables on him at regionals — set a fast pace and won in 9:26.18.
“I tried to stay with him,” Spitzer said. “But, I just couldn’t do it. The heat was really tough. I feel really good about this race and I am looking forward to next year.”
Another Prakel on podium
The Prakel family has had a lot of success at the state track meet and it looks like Lucy Prakel will be no exception.
The freshman had a PR in the pole vault to finish sixth at 11-2.
“That felt really great to make that jump because I had never made it before,” Prakel said. “I never expected to be up on the podium as a freshman. I am really happy.”
She got even happier in the afternoon when she teamed with Jenna Frantz, Cassie Peters and Ava Moran for sixth in the 400 relay in 49.74.
“I could stay up on the podium all day,” Prakel said with a laugh. “For me, it has just been an honor to be on this team and run with these girls.”
Peters said it was good to get up on the podium.
“I felt like we ran a good race,” she said. “There was a lot of tough competition.”
Moran, the anchor, agreed.
“To be able to go out and compete with all these great runners and get up on the podium, I am really happy with what we accomplished,” she said. “It was great being up on the podium.”
Relay takes ninth
Peters teamed with Ellen Peters, Liz Watren and Emily Langenkamp for ninth in the 1,600 relay in 4:03.20. Anchor Camille Watren was unable to run due to injury.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.