By David Fong
Miami Valley Sunday News
COLUMBUS — When Annah Stanley competed in the state meet as a sophomore and was unable to make the finals with her relay team, she figured she was young and would have plenty more shots at getting on the podium.
Time passed quickly and, before she knew it, she was down to her final chance.
Stanley and her teammates on the Troy High School 4×100 relay team — Brennah Hutchinson, Hannah Falknor and Kiersten Franklin — cashed in on that opportunity Friday in the Division I state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, finishing with the seventh-fastest qualifying time (49.07 seconds), good enough for one of nine spots in Saturday’s finals.
“This is freaking awesome,” said Stanley, the lone senior on the relay team. “This is the best night I’ve ever had in my life. It feels really good. I was hoping to get on the podium when I came here the first time as a sophomore, but when we didn’t, I thought I’d get there the next year. But then we didn’t. But now we are racing in the finals and I’m so proud of all of us.”
Troy’s 4×100 relay team competed just a few minutes after the 4×200 relay team of Hutchinson, Falknor, Franklin and Katie Lord was disqualified for an exchange zone violation. Hutchinson said that served as motivation for the three runners competing in the 4×100.
“I’m so proud of us,” said Hutchinson, a sophomore. “I was so nervous going into this race. I was really nervous. I felt a lot stronger in the (4×100). I think we were all going into it really mad and that helped us.”
The Trojans faced adversity all day long. Before they could compete, they had to wait out a 3.5-hour storm delay. Troy’s runners went back to their hotel room, where they tried their best to keep loose.
“I didn’t feel like we were able to prepare well at all,” said Falknor, a freshman. “We tried to keep loose, but it was hard in the hotel. I think that delay really made our bodies slow down.”
In the end, though, the Trojans did well enough to run again Saturday.
“It feels good,” said Franklin, a freshman. “It feels really good.”
Nicholas reaches finals
Midway through her heat in the 400 prelims, Piqua freshman Camilla Nicholas was just looking to get it over with.
“I usually start getting tired around 200 meters, so I start thinking, ‘The faster I finish, the faster I can be done,’” she said.
As it turns out, that strategy paid off for Nicholas, as her final burst was enough to give the ninth and final qualifying spot in Saturday’s finals at the Division I state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, as she finished in 58.05 seconds.
“It feels unbelievable,” said Nicholas, who at first didn’t realize she had made the finals. “It’s very shocking and very tiring.”
That wasn’t the only surprise of the day for Nicholas, who was greeted in Columbus by a group of friends who had made the trip over to watch her compete.
“A lot of my friends surprised me by coming here,” she said. “I was so happy. I got to hang out with them and a lot of them were warming up with me, which really pushed me.”
Nicholas said her freshman season, which will end Saturday with her competing for a spot on the podium, has exceeded all of her expectations.
“I did not expect it to go like this,” she said. “I just wanted to run my best and make everyone around me happy. I wanted to make everyone proud of me.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong