This weekend's high school regional track and field meets are the final step to reaching a major goal for many athletes in central Ohio, which is qualifying for the state meet June 3-4 in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at Ohio State.

This weekend's high school regional track and field meets are the final step to reaching a major goal for many athletes in central Ohio, which is qualifying for the state meet June 3-4 in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at Ohio State.

The thrill of running, jumping, vaulting or throwing in the final event of the prep sports year is worth every second of preparation for most competitors.

For three seniors at Hartley, the state meet represents not only another chance to win individual titles, but to recapture the Division II team championship.

Aisha Cavin and Maya Pedersen were members of the Hartley team that finished third in Division II when they were freshmen and the team that won the Division II state title a year later. Chelsea Scott joined Cavin and Pedersen last year and helped the Hawks finish second to Cleveland Collinwood.

Now, the girls are determined to make their last high school meet memorable.

"I think the state championship meet is nerve-wracking for us because we are Hartley and know what is expected of us," Pedersen said. "We are a legacy in high school girls track and always will be, so it's our responsibility to our school to move our performances up a notch."

Scott agreed with her teammate.

"This final meet is a chance to showcase our talents and show everyone that we are still on top, and running in this meet is really fun and exciting," she said.

Cavin, who won last year's state title in the 400 meters, said, "This meet is different for us because of what it means for our school and that makes it all the better."

Looking ahead to what they face at state, Scott said it won't be easy for the Hawks to win the title.

"We have to be better this year than we were a year ago," she said. "There are some outstanding teams out there including our neighbor, Eastmoor, who will challenge us, so we have to keep honest and work hard."

Pedersen said she, Cavin and Scott must lead the way.

"The three of us have to set the example all day for our underclassmen, who will have to produce for us to win the team title," Pedersen said. "Our confidence has to remain high and we have to use our ability to the fullest."

Cavin had a different outlook on her final high school competition.

"I know it will be as exciting as ever and I wouldn't change anything at all that happened over the past three years, but it will have a bit of sadness knowing this is the last time we will be together representing our school," Cavin said. "So we need to make the most of it and I think we are ready for it, because other runners know who we are and it's our job to get the best results."

Reflecting on their love for the sport and where it has taken them, the three Hawks standouts have slightly different views.

"As a sprinter, track is really just about going out there and running as fast as you can and I love the thrill of it," Calvin said. "There is a technical side and a mental side that are very important, but if you can keep your mind clear you can achieve many things."

"Track has opened my eyes to so many things and it makes you have strength inside and out," Pedersen said. "Success comes from proving yourself and developing discipline in every aspect of the sport. I love the fact that it becomes mind over matter."

"I love the fact that you are surrounded with friends who have the same goals that I do," Scott said. "No one is slacking off and when times are rough you go through them together. That is what I will remember about this experience at Hartley."

Coach Richard Jones has been the architect for Hartley's success. Pedersen said he deserves all the credit for what she and her teammates have achieved.

"Coach Jones is Hartley. He has shaped every one of us into who we are as runners," she said. "The mental attitude and the confident mindset we have is all due to him. He has made me a better runner and, more important, a better person."

Describing what it will take to win the Division II state title next week, Cavin said the Hawks can't let down.

"The thing that comes into to my mind first is that we need to turn into superheroes at the state meet," she said. "We need to be proud of the 'H' that we wear on our uniforms and use the power we have to run well and capture our dreams."

The Hartley trio of "superheroes" and their supporting cast have two weekends left to prove their point.

I'll see you at the state meet.

Larry Larson is a former athletics director at Grandview High School. He can be heard as "Mr. High School Sports" on WTVN 610 AM.