COLUMBUS – Arcanum’s Erica Zimmer and Versailles’ girls 4×200 meter relay team made the podium at the Ohio High School Athletic Association state track and field meet.
Darke County’s top performance at the 2016 state track and field meet came from Zimmer, an Arcanum senior. After finishing 13th last year and feeling she didn’t perform up to her ability, the two-time state qualifier had a performance she could be proud of on Friday.
In her final high school meet Zimmer had a personal best throw of 42 feet 1.75 inches, finishing fourth overall in the Division III girls shot put.
“So much of an improvement from last year from not making it to finals to placing fourth at the state meet,” Zimmer said. “It’s amazing, and it feels great.”
Versailles sophomore Ellen Peters, sophomore Cassie Peters, freshman Liz Watren and senior Haley Winner made the podium by finishing eighth in the Division II girls 4×200 meter relay with a time of 1:45.87.
“We set goals, and we met our goals,” Cassie Peters said. “I’m really happy with how we did.”
For Cassie Peters, Ellen Peters and Watren, the eighth place finish marked the first time in their high school careers that they made the podium at the OHSAA state meet.
“It’s really cool just to know that we got there,” Watren said.
This year was the first time Watren and Ellen Peters had ever competed at state.
“The adrenaline out on the track is crazy compared to what you can even imagine,” Ellen Peters said. “It’s really exciting for myself and the team.”
While five Darke County athletes made the podium, others came up just short.
Versailles’ quartet of Winner, Cassie Peters, junior Emily Langenkamp and Watren finished ninth in the Division III girls 4×400 meter relay. They finished just 0.03 seconds behind Beaumont for the eighth and final place on the podium.
“It’s upsetting that we didn’t make podium, but I couldn’t be mad with the way we ran,” Winner said.
For a second consecutive year Versailles’ Josh Steinbrunner finished less than 0.1 seconds from making the finals in the boys 110 meter hurdles. The Tiger sophomore placed 10th in the preliminaries of the Division II boys 110 meter hurdles in a time of 14.86, just 0.4 seconds behind Orange senior Michael Johnson, who earned the last spot in the finals.
Last year as a freshman Steinbrunner finished 0.07 seconds out of finals qualification in the Division III boys 110 meter hurdles. Having moved up to a tougher division, Steinbrunner was happy with how his season went.
“It’s an accomplishment overall because I didn’t think I’d be able to make it here this year,” said Steinbrunner, who ran a personal best time in Friday’s preliminaries.
Another Darke County hurdler, Arcanum senior Austin Gibboney, also finished less than a 10th of a second out of a finals qualification spot. In his first trip to the state meet Gibboney placed 10th in the Division III boys 300 meter hurdles with a time of 40.31, just 0.08 seconds behind Belpre sophomore Tojzae Reams for the last spot in the finals.
Arcanum’s third state qualifier, senior Alexis Kreusch, finished 14th in the Division III girls high jump. The first-time state qualifier cleared 5 feet at state, which was the second-best mark of her career.
Franklin Monroe junior Nicole Berry also recorded the second-best mark of her career at the state meet. She had a throw of 112 feet 7 inches to place 15th in the Division III girls discus.
Berry, who made it to state in the shot put as a sophomore, hopes to qualify for the state meet for a third time as a senior. Next year she’s hoping to make it back in both shot and discus.
“Next year I’m hoping to qualify for both,” she said. “It’s a little ways off, but I’m hoping to podium in disc at least and win shot if that’s possible.”
Versailles’ quartet of Cassie Peters, Ellen Peters, junior Jenna Frantz and Winner finished 13th in the preliminaries of the Division II girls 4×100 meter relay in a time of 51.01.
Greenville junior AJ Frens competed in the Division I boys pole vault but didn’t clear the bar. He came in to the competition at 15 feet, which he cleared the previous week at regionals, and said in hindsight he should have entered at 14 feet or 14 feet 6 inches to build confidence.
Despite the disappointing end to his season, the two-time state qualifier said he won’t let it overshadow what was a great season.
“I just can’t let this take away from what a good junior year I had,” Frens said. “I cleared 16 (feet) as a junior, which is really good, so I just can’t let this competition take away from my whole year.”
In her first state meet appearance, Greenville junior Lexi Addington didn’t clear the bar at the opening height of 10 feet 6 inches in the Division I girls pole vault.
In all 13 Darke County athletes competed at this year’s state track and field meet. Nine of them were underclassmen and will have an opportunity to make it back next year while for four of them – Arcanum’s Gibboney, Kreusch and Zimmer plus Versailles’ Winner – this year’s state meet marked the end of their high school careers.
Winner finished her career as one of Darke County’s most accomplished athletes having made the podium at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium eight times, which includes a pair of state championships.
“(Versailles track and field coach Mike Goubeaux said) he doesn’t know of any girls that’s come to state four years in a row with three events each time,” Winner said. “It’s an honor to run for Versailles.”
For complete results from the OHSAA state track and field meet, visit the OHSAA’s website at http://ohsaa.org.
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.