LANCASTER — Friday turned out to be a pretty good day for two Fredericktown High School track and field competitors. Sophomore Isaac Potes and junior Kate Newkirk qualified for the Division III State Track and Field Championships after strong regional performances at Fairfield Union High School.
Potes dominated the competition in the 3,200-meter run, winning he race by over nine seconds (9:46.92). He led every lap except one, and was never seriously challenge over the final 300 meters.
“This was very tiring,” said Potes. “I really thought I would have major competition, but it was too bad. I knew I had to run fast, so I did and it was painful. ... I didn’t really care about who was controlling the tempo. I was just running how I run, and I ended up out front.”
One reason for his late endurance was the event was his only race of the day. He qualified for the 1,600-meter run as well, but the decision was made to focus on one race instead of two. The hope is that he can make it on the podium at the state meet because of that.
“I think making the decision to focus only on the two-mile (3,200) really benefited him,” said Fredericktown boys coach Will Hartley. “It was a really dominant performance. He really was the class of the field tonight.”
“Personally, I like the mile (1,600) a lot,” said Potes. “Between the mile and the two (mile), I didn’t make the choice. My coaches made it for me because I probably would have chosen the (1,600). It is the speed of it that makes it fun, an it is not eight grueling laps. Coach just thought I would be better in the (3,200), and I agree.”
Centerburg’s Thomas Thatcher made a strong push toward the end of the 3,200 and finished 11th overall.
Newkirk ran into a little trouble in the pole vault, but it wasn’t until she had sailed through the competition. When the bar was raised to 9-foot-9, that’s when her vaults hit a little hitch. The good news was only four athletes had cleared 9-foot-6, which meant Newkirk was guaranteed a spot at state, no matter the outcome.
“I’m happy that I am going to state; I’m thrilled beyond belief,” said Newkirk. “Once I made it to the final four, it was like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I’m happy (with my performance), but I know I can do better. At district, I vaulted 10 foot.”
“This is neat because the last couple of years she has gone with seniors Corinne Salva and Brittany Auker, and now it is just her,” said Fredericktown girls coach Bob Geiger. “She is the big dog; she is the one everybody is watching now. The pressure is on and she has responded to that. She set the district record last week with her 10-foot vault. She is really rising to the occasion.”
Geiger and Newkirk both know the competition will only get tougher from here on out, but Newkirk is determined to do what it takes to succeed at the state meet.
“Girls pole vault gets better every single year,” said Geiger. “The curve is huge as more girls want to vault, and Kate has ridden that curve. I think she can get on the podium again, but it is going to be tough. The sky is really the limit I think.”
“This coming week is going to be real important,” Newkirk said. “Last week, I didn’t get much practice in at all. Just the ways things fell with work and coach (Tim Cothren) had something going on, I didn’t get a lot of time. This week, I am going to need to focus because going to state, I know how competitive it is. That is going to push me.”
Several other athletes made Fairfield Union their playground on Friday, but they were not as fortunate to advance. Fredericktown’s Tayler Carpenter, East Knox’s Jessica Bartkiewicz and Danville’s Kendra Mills all competed in the long jump competition. Mills failed to register a distance as she fouled on each attempt in the preliminaries. Both Carpenter and Bartkiewicz advanced to the finals, and finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Fredericktown thrower Sarah Fletterich finished ninth overall in the discus competition, and the Freddies’ 4x100-meter relay team of Lauren Snyder, Newkirk, Hayley Derikito and Carpenter finished sixth overall.
“I didn’t think they could run that fast,” Geiger said of his 4x1000 team’s performance. “They ran seven-tenths of a second off the school record. All year, we’ve thought we had 200- and 400-meter runners and not 100-meter runners. I didn’t think that was our fastest relay and they got sixth in the regional. We are so pleased.”
Fredericktown had several other boys competing, but none could finish high enough to advance. Garrett Gatton came so close in the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles, finishing fifth and seventh, respectively. Jon Gallagher and Nathan Cubbage each failed to clear 6 foot in the high jump. Gallagher finished fifth, while Cubbage tied for sixth.
The Freddies also fielded teams in the boys 4x200-, 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays. They took seventh in the 4x200 and eighth in the 4x400. The 4x100 team dropped the baton heading into the last exchange and was disqualified.
“For the younger guys, they came out and really competed well,” said Hartley. “They put themselves in a good position to advance. They performed well and got a taste of what it takes. For our seniors, that too put themselves in position to advance. They had a setback in the 4x100, but other than that, I think they are pretty happy with their performance. I think they left it all on the track tonight. That’s all you can do in this situation at this level.
“I told our guys after we advanced to the finals, we are going to have to continue to get faster. Up to this point, we had continued to get faster. For the most part, we did again. In the 4x200, we were right there. We ran our second-best time of the season. We gambled a little bit on a hand-off in the 4x100. It didn’t turn out our way tonight, but we don’t have any regrets.”
The Division III State Championships begin Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University. They continue through Saturday, June 6.