PITSBURG – Franklin Monroe senior Nicole Berry hopes to finish her high school track and field career with a personal-best performance at this week’s Ohio High School Athletic Association state meet.
Berry has qualified for the OHSAA state meet for a third consecutive year. She’s slated to compete in the Division III girls shot put at 4 p.m. Friday at The Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
“Obviously it’s a pretty exciting time,” Franklin Monroe track and field coach Rick Ingold said. “She’s back-to-back-to-back state qualifier now. Speaks a lot for the work she’s put in over the last four years as an athlete. I think she’s got potential there to do some pretty cool things on Friday. We’ll see what happens.”
In Berry’s first trip to the OHSAA state meet as a sophomore she finished 11th in the girls shot put with a throw of 37 feet 1.5 inches.
Berry has continued to progress and as a senior has a personal-best mark of 47 feet 6.5 inches, a mark she set during the indoor season. Her best throw during the outdoor season is 46 feet 8 inches.
“I’ve had more experience and time to grow as an athlete,” Berry said.
From her freshman year when her best throw was 34 feet, Berry has improved tremendously, Ingold said. He credits her work ethic for her big improvement.
“You don’t see a lot of girls putting 14 feet on their PR from freshman to senior year,” Ingold said. “That’s a pretty unusual thing to happen. It speaks a lot for the work that she’s put in, for the weightlifting that she’s done, the dedication that she’s shown toward her craft.”
At this week’s state meet Berry thinks she can do even better than what she’s already done. Her goal is to throw 50 feet.
“It’s a bit of a stretch, but I’m sure I can do it because I’ve had enough coaching and practice,” the future Tiffin University thrower said.
Entering the state meet Berry has the third best qualifying mark behind McComb’s Molly Leppelmeier and Rootstown’s Abby Moore. She’s familiar with the tough competition she’ll face this weekend from past meets, including last year’s state championships when she finished 15th in the Division III girls discus.
“I know most of the girls that are already there, and I’ve competed against them in the past so it will just be a fun get-together and we’ll just try to beat each other,” Berry said.
Regardless of where she ends up in the standings, Berry hopes to finish her high school career with another strong performance.
“I’m going to try to make the most of it and try to come out on top,” she said. “If I don’t, I’m going to try my best.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.