COLUMBUS — Day-two of state track Saturday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium was for the young guns.
Of the seven Greene County athletes competing at the state meet Saturday, only three were seniors. The other four hoped to learn skills to help in their future.
Grace Norman, a Xenia Christian junior, made the podium in the 1,600-meter race in her first experience at state. She started off the race slower near the end of the pack but slowly crept up to finish in the eighth spot with a time of 5:14.09, which she said is a personal record.
“I wanted to start out slower so I had more of a kick, then I started each lap not wanting to be last and then kind of picking it up,” said Norman. “I was counting places and I knew I was in ninth, and I was like, ‘I want eighth. I want that medal.’”
Norman was in ninth place coming down the final turn and gutted out one last burst of speed to secure the eighth spot.
“It was so close! I wasn’t sure and then everyone cheered and I was like, ‘Is that for me or for her?’”
According to the US Paralympic Track & Field Committee, Norman is the first ever high school athlete to podium in a state track meet in the US as an amputee. Norman said she was just happy to compete.
“It’s amazing. I had no idea I was going to be able to do that. I’m just very thankful that the Lord gave me strength today and I was able to compete with the best out here. It was great,” she said. “It’s amazing to be able to run with these amazing ladies out here. Everyone earned their spot here. It was so cool, and to be able to make the podium was great.”
“I’ve never ran in a stadium this big with this many people watching. Coming here, lots of fans and people, all fast people. No one is slow here. It’s just been a great experience. My family is here. It’s just been so great.”
Rachel Sweeney, a Xenia Christian sophomore, had one of the faster times in qualifiers for the Division-III 800 run. While she didn’t make the podium in the final, she said that she learned some valuable lessons going forward.
“It’s okay. I got boxed in, which was the whole reason I didn’t do well. They went slower than I wanted to,” she said. “I ran a 2:16 last week, which would have won this, but before that my PR was a 2:21 and I didn’t know if I could get that down there again.”
“It’s my first year here, now I know for next year. I didn’t run my freshman year, so this is my first year of track.”
Carroll junior Christina Kallet was also making her first appearance at state competition in the Division-II 800.
“I honestly wasn’t how I was ranked, but I just knew that I wanted to go home with a smile. I didn’t want to disappoint myself at the end of the day. And I know my mentality. I’m a fighter. I knew that I had to do it for myself, for my coach,” she said.
She also came from behind to make podium, taking the eighth spot down the stretch with a time of 2:18.56.
“At first I was a little gun shy because I wasn’t even projected to make top eight, but I wanted to try. I wanted my last race of of the season to be my best,” she said. “Being kind of a nervous person, it was a lot of pressure. But I just had to clear my mind and focus on what was import – the two laps I had to run here.”
“It just shows you to not give up in a race. It can be the last 100 meters and you can get passed or become a winner.”
Beavercreek sophomore Ben Ewert posted a time of 4:27.94 in the D-I 1,600, missing the podium. Ewert suffered an injury earlier the season but was able to recover and make it to state. His teammate, senior Tristan Tapia also missed the podium in the D-I 800.
Cedarville senior Tim Stevenson finished in ninth place in the D-III 400. After suffering a hamstring injury on Friday’s 400 qualifier, Stevenson wasn’t sure how he was going to perform in the final. He missed the podium, posting a time of 52.20.
Greenon senior Dan Wallace missed the podium in boys discuss.