LANCASTER — Friday’s meet was deja vu for a local runner headed for the state tournament.
For another school, it was a long-awaited shot at redemption.
Fredericktown and East Knox will have athletes moving on after successful runs at the Division III regional track and field finals at Fairfield Union High School.
Emily Roberts qualified for her second straight state appearance with a second-place finish in the 3,200-meter run. Her time of 11:25.58 was a meet record, falling just seven seconds shy of her PR.
Roberts finished behind Shadyside’s Tara Tollett (11:20.70), with whom she jockeyed for position in the first five laps. Roberts led by a fraction of a second for most of that time; however, in the sixth lap, Tollett shifted gears and took a five-second lead. Tollett held on to that lead for the rest of the race.
“I don’t think I should have led. I should have followed,” said Roberts. “I think sometimes I lose a little confidence. But, I was real close to my PR. I haven’t peaked yet, so it’s all good.”
Failing to win gold at the regional meet didn’t faze Roberts. She said the race that counts is next Saturday’s at Jesse Owens Stadium.
“(Tollett) ran an amazing race,” said Roberts. “Hopefully, I can keep working and see what I can do, keep pushing hard. It’s state.”
It was, finally, a regional tournament to celebrate for the East Knox Bulldogs. After several attempts in the past few years, the Bulldogs finally burst through and made state, qualifying in the boys 4x200 relay with a third-place finish of 1:33.07.
It was a total team effort by Levi Myers, Colton Rebel, Dylan Wears and Alex Casebolt.
“We were just running the best we could,” said Rebel. “I honestly thought we would do better than third. But, we’re in state. That’s all that matters.”
Last year’s regional was epitomizing of recent misfortunes for East Knox; they were disqualified in one relay, and dropped the baton in another.
On Friday, that all changed.
“We were talking about that, about how East Knox comes in to regionals every year after smashing everybody in districts,” said Wears. “Then, we get to regional finals and everything goes wrong. We haven’t been known as being clutch. So we actually had a team meeting about that, making sure that we weren’t going to let that happen again.”