LEXINGTON — Thursday was a day of downpours and disappointment for several area track and field athletes.
Competing at the Division II Regional Championships at Lexington High School, early downpours put a damper on the meet, and cost a few athletes a shot at moving on to the state meet. In all, only one runner moved on to Saturday’s regional finals — Northridge’s Derek Hull in the boys 400-meter dash — and no field competitor advanced to state.
“I thought most of our guys did the best they could,” said Utica coach Dan Scholl. “The weather played a factor and maybe got into their heads a little bit.”
Hull made it to the finals with a fourth-place finish (51.36 seconds) in Heat 1, which qualified him for eighth overall.
Clear Fork senior Abby Kuelling was the only Colt to reach the podium. Kuelling, competing in the high jump, started out well. She cleared 5 foot before a torrential downpour of rain suspended the competition. When competition resumed, jumpers began to compete at 5-foot-2, which Kuelling failed to clear and finished fifth. Brandy Kelley of Doylestown Chippewa won the event with a jump of 5-foot-4.
“We obviously had high expectations, but we also had realistic expectations too,” said Clear Fork coach Brittany Bechtel. “With our high jumper Abby, the weather didn’t cooperate. The cold rain cooled down her muscles, and everybody had to compete in those conditions. Obviously, it wasn’t the best for Abby. In the 4x100, we missed some handoffs. We went to Loudonville this week and worked on them, and we had them down perfect (Tuesday). Today, we were out of an exchange zone a couple of times and that hurt us. Overall, it just wasn’t our day.”
Utica pole vaulter Jake Torrens was the top Redskin finisher. Torrens matched his personal best of 12-foot-6, which he set at the district meet, but couldn’t successfully clear 13 foot. He finished ninth overall.
“He did OK. I think he could have done a little bit better, but he did OK,” said Scholl of Torrens. “The competition was so tough.”
That was the highlights for the area teams as no other competitor finished any higher than 10th. Clear Fork’s 4x800-meter girls relay team took 10th (10:07.01), and sisters Sara and Sadie Hitchman finished 10th and 11th, respectively, in the 100-meter dash. They finished with identical times of 13.18 seconds each, running in different heats.
The East Knox boys 4x200-meter relay squad ran to a 12th-place finish out of Lane 1. The squad started out well with Taylor Jones running the lead leg, but the competition began to pull away as the team finished with a time of 1:37.12.
While the season ended on a down note for several of the athletes, they can learn a lot from the competition. With a little more hard work in the offseason, they may have the opportunity to take it to the next level next year.
“I hope we can learn from this,” Scholl said. “They saw the level of competition. I think that will provide a little motivation heading into the offseason. ... We’ve got to learn to tough through the bad weather and be mentally tough. Physically, I think we are close; we just have to work on our mental aspect. The competition was very good. I’m proud of them for giving it their best.
“The best part of this is how many kids we had competing. Yeah, things may not have gone like we wanted today, but I hope this becomes a hunger for them. They saw what they need to do to move on. I hope they take it from there.”
Clear Fork, Northridge and East Knox still have a shot to have state qualifiers as all have runners or a thrower competing on Saturday. Even still, that only lessens the sting that Thursday left behind.
“We’ve got McKenzie Roth in the (1,600) and Erika Garn in the (3,200). Hopefully, we will get better weather,” said Bechtel. “Erica and McKenzie both will come out and give it everything they’ve got, and that’s all I can ask for. That’s our whole motivation.”