WESTERVILLE — For a brief moment, the world felt normal again. Sure, it wasn’t Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium and there was only one division, but like so many times before, Fulton County shown brightly on the biggest stage at the state track and field championships.
This time, Westerville North High School played host to the D-III track championships after the event was canceled in 2020. And like so many seasons before, Archbold left its mark on the event with a memorable finish, including five trips to the podium with three being silver medal performances.
The Archbold boys 4×200 relay team of Alex Roth, Brandon Taylor, Austin Roth and Trey Theobald entered the prelims on Friday as one of the top teams based on regionals. But even as successful as they had been, Theobald was well aware that more had to be done to prepare for Saturday’s final.
“We knew we had to make up some time coming in, through seed times,” he explained.
With 200 meters left in the final, the Blue Streaks were facing the reality of a fourth or fifth place finish but with Theobald as the anchor and a great final turn for home, the Archbold senior made up ground finishing in second behind first place finisher, Daniel Wagner of Columbus Africentric.
“I’m just glad that we all put forth our best effort and even though we couldn’t get them in the end, it was a great race overall,” remarked Theobald. “It was great for all that has happened over the last eight months.”
Trailing in the turn, Theobald kicked in another gear to help secure the runner-up finish.
“I think the stagger helped me a little bit but I was just thinking of these guys, knowing they were depending on me in the end,” he explained. “I just knew we wanted to be a little bit higher on the podium than we were when I took the baton.”
The Blue Streaks finished with a personal best 1:30.20, just shy of the school record at 1:28.
“It was a great race with a lot of great teams here,” added teammate Austin Roth. “It was a good time to be out here and run. It was definitely a lot warmer today so it was important to stay in shape and stay hydrated.”
The Archbold boys finished runner-up as well in the 1600 relay to cap a memorable day. The Streaks finished in 3:22.49, mere tenths behind champion, Minster, at 3:22.12.
In like fashion, Kylie Sauder brought home a silver finish in the girls 800 meter dash for Archbold. Sauder finished runner-up to Allison Johnson of Mount Gilead in 2:15.88. Johnson’s 2:08.81 set a new state mark previously held by Stephanie Morgan of Barnesville at 2:09.77 from 2009.
Sauder also anchored the 4×400 relay team of Chloe Merrillat, Brittney Ramirez and Sophie Rupp to another podium finish. The Lady Streaks grabbed a fourth place finish in 4:04.71 as West Liberty-Salem took the top spot.
In field events, the Streaks’ Karter Behnfeldt made the podium in the high jump, matching his regionals jump of 6-2 again for seventh place. Layne Sarver of Tri-Village took home the gold with a leap of six feet, five inches.
Kiera Gensler just missed the podium for Archbold in a loaded field in the shot put. Gensler made the finals but was unable to make the podium with a toss of 36 feet, 5 and 3/4 inches. Ella Rigel of Leipsic won the event while fellow NWOAL rival, Trista Fintel of Patrick Henry, finished runner-up.
Another strong showing at state only reinforces the work and dedication the Archbold athletes put forth this season. Theobald alone qualified for two other events entering Friday in the 100 and 400 meter dash. In the 400, Theobald just missed qualifying for the finals with a ninth place finish while a 12th place finish would end his hopes in the 100.
Still, even to be running at state again, a year removed from a lockdown with no events and no hope of competition in 2020, Theobald felt the blessing of normalcy again.
“It means a lot because I know at the beginning of the quarantine last year, I would go to the track by myself with my Mom and just work on drills, just to stay in shape,” he concluded. “So, this is just an exclamation point to all the hard work we have put in over the last couple years.”