COLUMBUS – With only a handful of girls competing, Archbold made their performances count, scoring 39 points to place second to West Liberty-Salem (50) in the Division III girls meet at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Track and Field Championships which concluded Saturday afternoon at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
It was the first state trophy won by any Archbold track team.
“Words can’t describe it,” said an emotional head coach, Dina Gladieux. “My first year we were one point away with the boys. And that year we had so many opportunities.
“This is amazing. It’s amazing.”
Regardless of the achievement, Gladieux also stressed that a team trophy was not the goal. But they clearly achieved many of their goals as all five Blue Streak competitors were able to stand on the podium.
“After the league title, I don’t think about team titles. We focus on just getting as far as we can,” explained Gladieux. “And after that, everything else is just a blessing. It’s a gift. That’s what happened today. We were blessed huge.”
The Blue Streaks placed in five events, winning state titles in the 400 meter dash and the 4×400 meter relay.
In the 400m, senior Dakota Stamm was able to repeat as state champion. She finished with a time of 55.82, a personal record.
“I mean, I was hoping I would get a 55. I just didn’t know I could do it yet,” said Stamm. “It’s really cool that I got that time. I was really excited.”
To repeat as champion and set a new personal best, is a culmination of the hard work she has put in all season long.
“All season, I feel like (I have been) working harder than I have any other season,” she said. “I was training harder, I was lifting more. My sprints coach (Nate Hammersmith), we have a new one this year. He’s amazing. He really is. He knows what he’s talking about. So that was awesome to be trained by him.”
The last event of the day was the 4×400 relay, where Iris Pena, Kylie Sauder, Gwynne Riley and Stamm won with a time of 3:58.03. The 4×200 relay consisting of the same four, and the 4×800 which had Brittney Ramirez in place of Pena, each took third.
However, in the victorious 4×400, the Streaks moved up from ninth in the final two legs of the race. Riley – who was a little disappointed with her seventh place finish in the 800m after winning the regional a week earlier – along with Stamm, was a part of that push at the end.
“It was just chasing down the girls and making sure that I kept my energy up and didn’t get like disappointed that we were behind. I just knew I had to keep moving forward,” said Riley on the keys to her leg of the 4×4.
It was also special for Riley that her and Stamm could put the cap on the win. “I just feel like we’re sisters,” she explained. “We are really close to each other. We just have that connection where we love running with each other. I always feel like I’m the one that’s passing off the baton to her. I trust her and she trusts me.”
“We said early on that once the 400m was done, the 4×4 was just gonna be fun,” added coach Gladieux. “Because the pressure was off of her (Stamm). And same with Kylie and Gwynne. Once that 800 was done, they are just gonna run and have fun.”
Sauder finished fourth in the 800m prior to helping the 4×4 win a title. She ran a great time of 2:16.14.
“It’s state obviously,” Sauder admitted as to how she was able to run so fast. “I think I took it a little easy on the first lap. And then just took off the second lap. Because I knew I needed to go if I wanted to get on the podium.”
She credits Riley for helping motivate her to run her best. “I have someone to push me all the time,” she said. “In the same event, not many people have two teammates come (to state) for the same event. So it’s pretty cool.”
Fulton County also had a top four finisher on the boys side in the 800m. Fayette junior Brett Merillat took fourth with a time of 1:55.66.
“Yeah I feel good,” Merillat said of his finish. “Being the second best junior coming in. Finishing in fourth place. I thought it was pretty good for my first showing at state.”
The key to staying in the top four over the final stretch of the race was keeping his focus.
“I was sitting in third at that point,” Merillat said of the last 200 meters of the race. “I just really focused on my form and stuff. Really soak in the moment too. I didn’t expect to be up there as high as I was.”
Behind Merillat’s finish, Fayette had five points to tie for 34th in the Division III team standings.
Evergreen got fourth place finishes from Mason Loeffler in the high jump and Reece Serna in the 200m. This enabled the Vikings to place 24th with 9.5 points.
Loeffler, whose shin was bothering him Friday before competing, battled through the pain as he cleared 6 feet, 4 inches on his second attempt to secure All-Ohio honors.
“Relief,” he said on his feelings after learning he would make top four. “I knew I could do it but I wasn’t sure. The way I’ve been jumping the last few weeks at districts and at regionals. I haven’t been jumping as well as I could.”
Furthermore, to help stave off the pain, he took medication in the day and hours leading up to the event.
“Before I went to bed (last night) I took two Aleve,” noted Loeffler. “When I woke up I took two. Took some Advil before I jumped. Icy Hot, I put it on my shin. Numb it a little bit.”
Serna, who qualified in both the 100m and 200m, made the finals in the 200m. He would finish fourth with a time of 22.4.
“That’s definitely what I could hope for. I was seeded fifth, so, I was exceeding expectations,” said Serna of his fourth place finish.
He was able to edge Harry Mills of Columbus Academy and Robby LeFevre of Fort Recovery who finished in 22.45 and 22.47 respectively.
“I just knew I had to kick it in,” said Serna on the end of the race. “I saw LeFevre on my outside. I was like, I got to catch this kid. I’m not letting him beat me again.”
Being able to share the experience with Loeffler, and get the same placement as well, makes it even more special. It is not lost on the Evergreen community either, says Serna.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I know I’m not in school right now. I can’t see them (fellow classmates) physically. But on Twitter and Instagram, I’m getting good lucks from people I don’t even know. It’s great.”
Hunter Tresnan-Reighard of Delta finished fifth in the boys discus in Division III. His best throw was 159 feet, 11 inches.
Tresnan-Reighard also placed 11th (50-6) in the shot put, while teammate Nate Kohlhofer was 15th (48-7.5).
In the D-III girls pole vault, Hannah Grabke of Swanton ended her career with a 10th place finish. Grabke tied with Caitlin Green of Newcomerstown as both athletes cleared 10 feet.
Also for the Bulldogs, senior Dylan Gilsdorf took 14th (4:33.27) in the Division II 1600 meter run.
Xavier Torres of Wauseon was 14th (19-9.5) in the D-II long jump.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010