By BRIAN DULIK
COLUMBUS â€”Â Medinaâ€™s Donny Roys, Kent Rankin, Tyler Gonzales and Sam Maynard ran faster than any boys 4×800-relay team in school history on Friday afternoon.
But on this day, their incredible time of 7:46.21 was only good for fourth place in the highly anticipated state Division I championship race.
Cleveland Heights (7:41.38) successfully defended its big-school crown, while Reynoldsburg (7:44.17) and Strongsville (7:45.86) rounded out the top three.
â€œThis caps off the great experience weâ€™ve all had in track and cross country, but itâ€™s kind of a bummer to be fourth,â€ said Rankin, a senior. â€œWe do know we finished on a high and fourth is still respectable. At Medina, though, we can never be happy unless weâ€™re on top.â€
The Bees stayed between third and fifth place for the entire race, but Cleveland Heights was simply too fast for anyone to challenge on the sunburn-friendly day.
With that said, winding up fourth was a very tough break for Medina considering it set a school record, had several runners clock personal-best splits, and chopped a full 0.52 seconds off its state runner-up time from 2007.
â€œI ran the fastest race of my life and I couldnâ€™t catch anybody, which was frustrating,â€ said Maynard, the other 12th-grader on the unit. â€œWe ran as well as we could, but a couple of other teams were a little better.â€
Maynard and junior Roys were the lone returnees from the Beesâ€™ 4×8 of one year ago, while Rankin will continue his career in college and sophomore Gonzales has one of the brightest futures in the county. Roys also was part of Medinaâ€™s seventh-place relay in 2006.
Though they were unable to crack the top three this season, each runner can rest assured knowing no other quartet in Ohio was in their elite group. Hudson, which finished fifth, was nearly five seconds slower than the Bees.
â€œThis was a great group to run with,â€ Rankin said. â€œWe all depended on each other every race, which is why our relay was so good. Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ll remember more than anything about this year.â€
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NEED FOR SPEED: Wadsworthâ€™s girls 4×100 cruised to a win in its preliminary heat with a time of 48.31. Kristen Bennett, Amanda Pallija, Jessica Grant and Brittani Peltz have the fourth seed for todayâ€™s final (6:40 p.m.). â€œWe want to run 46 (seconds) so bad that everything we do has the No. 46 in it,â€ Grant said. â€œWe can do it.â€ Grant, a junior, will also be running in the 100 final (4:40 p.m.) after placing third in her lightning-fast heat with a time of 12.56. Her clocking would have won the other prelim by 0.05 seconds. â€œIf the finals were both being run tonight, Iâ€™d be ready,â€ she said shortly after finishing her final race. â€œThatâ€™s how good I feel. I felt like I might pass out earlier today, but Pallija put a wet towel on my face. Now, Iâ€™m ready to go.â€ â€¦ The Grizzliesâ€™ 4×200 and 4×400 did not move on. The 4×2 consisted of the same four girls in the 4×4 and was fifth in its heat with a 1:43.00, placing 10th overall. The 4×4 of Jenny Harsh, Nicole Cargill, Pallija and Peltz was sixth in its heat at 3:58.93 to finish 10th. â€œWeâ€™ve still got a shot in the 4×1,â€ said Peltz, who qualified as part of all four Wadsworth relays. â€œOur handoffs werenâ€™t good in the 4×2 and the 4×4 ran pretty well, but couldnâ€™t quite get out. Iâ€™m glad weâ€™ve got one more chance to place tomorrow.â€
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FOUR SQUARED: Medina and Wadsworth both competed in the boys 4×400, but neither advanced. The Bees (John Schweinfurth, Spencer Shewbridge, Dan Sloat and Maynard) were sixth in their heat in 3:22.57, while the Grizzles (Neal Iles, Dan Mueller, Mitch White and Aaron Tipton) placed eighth in their race in 3:27.21. â€œOur goal was to get here, which we did, and weâ€™re pleased with that,â€ said White, a senior. â€œObviously, we wanted to place, but it was a great year, especially for (fellow track rookie) Neal and me with the way everybody welcomed us onto the team.â€ Medinaâ€™s runners were also pleased with their performance with Maynard saying, â€œThese guys ran their hearts out and I couldnâ€™t be prouder of them. The coaches told me to ease off on the final leg if we didnâ€™t have a chance (of advancing to save himself for today), but there is no way I could do that with as much heart as they showed.â€
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RUN, JUMP, RUN: Wadsworth senior Sean Kemmerer claimed bragging rights as the best boys hurdler in the county by advancing to todayâ€™s 110 final. He finished fourth in his heat with a time of 14.84 and will be seeded eighth in the championship race (4:35 p.m.). Medina senior Ruben Belen competed in the first heat and was seventh in 15.21. He finished 14th overall. â€¦ Grizzlies sophomore Anthony Schrock placed seventh in the 300 hurdles prelims with a time of 40.55, which ranked 12th. â€¦ On the girls side, Medina senior Nicki Rymer was seventh in her heat in the 100 hurdles with a time of 16.02. She wound up 13th.
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HIGHLAND PRIDE: Highlandâ€™s Maria Holztrager, Morgan Beier, Diana Stercula and Kristen Hutchings finished eighth in their heat of the girls 4×400 with a time of 4:02.54, but cherished their state experience. Stercula is the lone senior in the bunch and said she loved acting as the groupâ€™s mentor. â€œI didnâ€™t get to enjoy the full state experience my freshman year, so I wanted to make sure everyone here did,â€ she explained. â€œThere is a lot more to being here than just the four minutes of fame you have on the track. We bonded as a true team the whole week.â€
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LOOKING AHEAD: Roys joined former Medina teammate Matt Unsdorfer as the only county boys to place in three relays during his career. If Roys runs in the top eight today in the 3,200 final (6:20 p.m.), he would become the sixth local athlete to place in four events at state. â€¦ Maynard can add a third career placing today in the 800 final (6 p.m.). … Also in action today is Medina distance standout Kelly Pickering, who will run the girls 1,600 (5:05 p.m.) and 800 (5:55 p.m.). â€¦ The countyâ€™s lone Division II competitor, Buckeyeâ€™s Kyle Miller, takes to the track in the boys 800 (2:25 p.m.).
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FIELD OF DREAMS: Seven county athletes kick off the day in the field events. Medinaâ€™s Taylor Burke (girls high jump) and Belen (boys high jump), Brunswickâ€™s Zach Marinucci (boys discus and shot put) and Hillary Perrea (girls discus), Cloverleafâ€™s Stephanie Foster (girls pole vault) and Wadsworthâ€™s Jocelyn Starinshak (girls pole vault) all compete in the early afternoon in advance of the running finals at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Dulik may be reached at email@example.com or 330-721-4059.