Since joining the ranks of Division I, the Rocky River girls track and field team has had a tough time advancing athletes to the state meet.
That changed last week at the Amherst regional meet as the Pirates qualified in three events. The 4×800 relay, along with Madi Connelly in the 800 and Elyse Bierut in the 3200, will compete this week at the Jesse Owens Track in Columbus.
Out in Navarre, Lutheran West 800 runner Brad Watson qualified in Division III for the second year in a row. He’ll be the only Longhorn competing in Columbus.
Back at Amherst, River celebrated its record day.
“It was a good day for us,” said River head coach Julie Achladis, whose team finished 11th in the 37-team field. Magnificat, with five qualifiers, finished sixth.
“All of our runners had PRs, even those who didn’t qualify,” Achladis said. “Our girls really came on strong and really responded to the competition.”
The 4×800 relay of Bierut, Megan O’Keefe, Maddy McDonough and Connelly finished third at Amherst with a time of 9:22.53. Only first-place Medina (9:13.87) and runner-up Perrysburg (9:19.09) fared better.
Connelly added the 800 to the River contingent heading to Columbus with her 2:15.30, good for the fourth and final qualifying spot. In the 3200, Bierut ran an impressive 10:55.70 to grab the runner-up spot behind All-Ohio performer Hannah Neczypor of North Royalton and her time of 10:46.05.
Magnificat, coming off a district championship at Lakewood, wasn’t able to add a regional crown to its trophy case. The Blue Streaks did have a first when its 4×200 relay qualified. It was also a banner day for sprinter Rachel Hlatky, who qualified in four events.
“It just wasn’t enough this year,” said Magnificat head coach Anjanette Arabian Whitman. “Rachel had a great day, and I can’t remember us ever getting a 4×200 relay to state. I know it hasn’t happened in my nine years there.
“This will be the third straight year we’ve sent our 4×400 relay. We haven’t reached the finals yet in our first two tries, so we’ll be shooting for that next week,” she said.
Hlatky started her day by taking fourth in the 100 with a time of 12.46. She then anchored the 4×200 relay, joining Jacquelyn Misencik, Samantha Birchfield and Brigid Murray for a third-place time of 1:43.84.
In the 200, Hlatky qualified for state with her third-place time of 24.97. The 4×400 relay of Birchfield, Murray, Hlatky and Abby Marquard came in third with a time of 3:55.40. The Olmsted Falls relay of Dayna Roberts, Megan Coughlin, Kelsey Snider and Allison Duber was right on the Streaks’ heels, grabbing the final qualifying spot with a 3:55.74.
Also representing magnificat at state with be Kat Stultz, who took fourth in the 1600 with a time of 5:01.09.
Westlake had a pair of seniors advance to Columbus in Kalpana Beach and Jack St. Marie. Beach took runner-up honors in the high jump with a leap of 5-6, while St. Marie battle David Knack of Medina tooth and nail before settling for second place as well. Knack won the race with a 9:16.39, while St. Marie clocked in at 9:16.80.
In Division III, Watson finished third for Lutheran West in the 800, running a 1:58.32.
“Brad ran a terrific race against some great competition,” said Longhorns head coach Joe King. “He rose to the occasion and got out at a quicker pace in his first lap. He just continued to move up, and put on a great final sprint.
“It is hard to advance each year with a little more pressure from higher expectations one imposes on oneself,” King said. “But Brad is a terrific competitor.”