MOUNT VERNON — A year ago, Celia Leonard competed in a 1,600-meter race at regionals. She finished fifth, just one place from advancing to the Ohio State Track and Field competition.
But Leonard is not thinking about that race anymore. Friday she wiped the slate clean, finishing fourth and advancing to state.
“I just want to make it to state,” she said. “I’ve made it to regionals every other year.”
Leonard had already done some racing at the regional level this year. On Wednesday, she raced in the 4x800-meter relay as well as the 4x400-meter relay.
“I ran my fastest in the 400, but my 800 was a little slow,” she said.
Leonard raced in every event from the 800-meter run to the 3,200-meter run last year. She started running on the 4x400-meter relay team this season because a few of the school’s 400 meter runners from last year graduated.
“Celia seemed to have more consistent times than some of the other girls,” said Pat Gray, girls track coach for Mount Vernon High School.
Gray said they tried a few of the other athletes in the event, but Leonard’s times proved to be the most consistent each time she ran the event.
“She has some good foot speed for a distance runner,” he said. “She runs consistently between a 60 and 62.”
Competing in the 400 meter race has made Leonard a quicker runner in the longer races. It has also given her more speed to use at the end of her races, making her not only more confident, but more of a threat to the other runners.
The speed has also changed her style of running.
“I don’t take out my first lap as fast, and I pick up the pace more at the end,” she said.
Out of all her events, Leonard said she likes the 1,600-meter run the best.
“In the 1,600 you have more time to race people,” she said. “And it is not so long that its boring. I don’t think I have as good of a shot in the 800 meters, so I’m going to just try to place.”