Versailles High School graduate Joe Spitzer took his success to another level recently at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet, while a group of Covington girls also had a strong showing as well at the meet in Greensboro, North Carolina.
For Spitzer, who was coming off winning the Division II boys state championship in the 3,200-meter run, it was a chance to step up in competition in the Emerging Elite, two-mile run.
“I thought about running in it last year, but didn’t make the qualifying time,” Spitzer said. “So, when I made the qualifying time this year, I decided to do it. It was a good experience for me, because I haven’t done a lot of running in national meets.”
And Spitzer went in with high expectations.
“I looked at the times ahead of time and saw I had one of the better times, so my goal was to win,” Spitzer said.
And he said his strategy in the two-mile event didn’t vary a lot from his state championship run.
“I kind of approached like I did at state,” Spitzer said. “I wanted to be in the top five or six at the midway point, then wanted to move up and take the lead with one lap to go and win. That is pretty much what happened.
“I was seventh after six laps. I was able to take a little bit of a lead on the seventh lap and hold on for the win. I was really happy with the race I ran.”
Spitzer, who won by more than five seconds with a time of 9:24.06, will be running at Liberty University next year.
“It was a good experience for me heading into college next year at Liberty,” Spitzer said. “It was a great experience and I am really happy I won.”
Lady Buccs compete
The Covington girls 1,600-meter relay (Breanna Kimmel, Paige Boehringer, Morgan Lowe, Rayna Horner) was coming off winning the D-III girls state championship, while Lauren Christian finished third at the state meet in the shot put.
Kimmel and Horner both graduated, while Boehringer and Christian will be seniors and Lowe will be a junior.
The five raised money to make the trip — with assistant coach Jason Sutherland.
The relay team finished seventh in the Emerging Elite 1,600 relay in 3:58.68, while Christian finished 29th in the Championship shot put with a put of 40-3 1-2.
“It was amazing,” Breanna Kimmel, who will attend Ball State University in the fall, said. “My senior year has been so much more than I ever expected it to be and it was a great experience.”
Horner, who will run for Toledo University next year, agreed.
“I just felt really fortunate to have the opportunity to compete in something like that,” Horner said. “It was a great experience. To be there competing against different clubs and private schools and we were one of the few public schools there.”
And the heat was on from the start.
“It was really hot and I was just trying to run as fast as I could,” Kimmel said. “It would have been nice to have finished sixth, but we had never run in anything on this scale. And we had a junior and sophomore. So, to finish as high as we did, that was pretty good.”
“Yes and no,” Horner said about being happy with the race. “I know our time wasn’t as good as at state, but this was a whole different level. And it was so hot. I know it was in the 90s back in Ohio and we ran at noon. It was like you could feel your feet burning as you ran.”
Horner said it was different than running at the state meet.
“Of course it was intense,” she said. “But, it was different than state. When we went to state, our goal was to win. There was less pressure. We still wanted to do well, but our expectations were different competing against all these great clubs and private schools. It was really interesting.”
Kimmel — a four-time state qualifier — isn’t sure if she will run in college.
“I may walk on (at Ball State),” she said. “But, that is dependent on my schoolwork that comes first. This was definitely an amazing way to finish (her high school track career).”
Horner feels like the meet was good preparation for her college career.
“That is what a lot of people told me after the race,” she said. “This is a taste of what running in college (at Toledo) will be. For the five of us to be able to go do this, it was a great experience.”
Where both Spitzer and the Lady Buccs showed they can compete with the best.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Piqua Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.