Emma Harris of the Columbus School for Girls track and field team wanted to get out to a fast start in the 800 meters in the Division II regional meet, but she found herself trapped behind a wall of runners in eighth place midway through the race.
Instead of panicking, the junior bided her time, found an opening on the first curve of the second lap and raced around five runners to move into third with 300 meters remaining.
Harris then held on to finish third in 2 minutes, 19.51 seconds.
The top four placers in each regional event qualified for the state meet Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8, at Ohio State, and Harris was relieved to advance in the 800 for the second consecutive year.
"I normally go out to try to win the first lap, so I was really nervous when I still had seven girls in front of me," Harris said. "I got boxed in at the back of a clump of people, but I know not to panic in that situation because I knew I could pull ahead when I got an opportunity. When I saw an opening, I took it and passed five people on the curve.
"This is only the fourth time I've run the 800 all season, so I really wasn't worried about winning the race. I was just focused on qualifying for state again."
Last year at state, Harris finished sixth in the 800 in 2:17.38.
"For state, I'd like to run a 2:15 and place in the top five to beat what I did last year," she said.
Also in the regional, which was held May 30 and June 1 at Welcome Stadium in Dayton, sophomore Rebecca O'Donovan, freshman Isabella Pesavento, freshman Eleanor Smith and Harris finished third in the 1,600 relay (4:01.49).
"I'm so proud of our 1,600 relay," Harris said. "Eleanor and I ran 58 splits and everyone ran well overall. We want to be on the podium (top eight) and I think we can break four minutes at state."
CSG finished 14th (18) at regional behind champion Eastmoor Academy (82) as 38 teams scored.
Smith finished fifth in the 400 (58.02), O'Donovan placed eighth in the 100 (13.73) and Smith, senior Abigail Perinni, freshman Alyssa Sugar and Harris finished eighth in the 3,200 relay (10:10.33) to round out the Unicorns' scoring.
Junior Cecilia Pesavento finished 10th in the 100 hurdles (17.19), sophomore Sabrina Ebner, Isabella Pesavento, junior Mo Ruff and O'Donovan placed 11th in the 400 relay (52.1), Ruff, the Pesavento sisters and junior Ashley Harrington finished 12th in the 800 relay (1:50.92), O'Donovan placed 12th in the 200 (27.2), Cecilia Pesavento placed 13th in the 300 hurdles (51.21) and sophomore Erika Sims finished 14th in the long jump (15 feet, 2 inches).
"Our 1,600 relay and Emma Harris in the 800 ran their best times of the year to make it out," coach Elon Simms said. "Eleanor was fifth in the 400, but she ran her fastest time of the year. Rebecca ran real well in the 100, too."
CSG finished third (87) in the 13-team district 2 meet held May 21, 22 and 25 at Westerville South behind Eastmoor (144) and Caledonia River Valley (132).
The top four placers in each event advanced to the regional.
Finishing first were Smith, Isabella Pesavento, Ebner and Harris in the 1,600 relay (4:03.35) and Harris in the 800 (2:20.07).
Placing second were Smith in the 400 (58.33) and Smith, Perinni, Sugar and Harris in the 3,200 relay (10:22.58).
Placing third were O'Donovan in the 200 (26.85) and 100 (12.99), Ebner, Isabella Pesavento, Ruff and O'Donovan in the 400 relay (51.04) and Cecilia Pesavento in the 100 hurdles (16.63).
Finishing fourth were Sims in the long jump (15-8), Cecilia Pesavento in the 300 hurdles (49.06) and Ruff, the Pesavento sisters and Harrington in the 800 relay (1:50.28).
"I'm proud of our positioning at district behind two very strong teams," Simms said.