Jocselyn Powell of the Canal Winchester High School girls track and field team was determined to win her first state title this season in honor of former coach John Bender, who died of complications related to leukemia and congestive heart failure last September.
As it turned out, Powell exceeded her own expectations by winning both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles in the Division I state meet held June 6 and 7 at Ohio State.
"This whole season my one goal was to win a state title for coach Bender because he's the one thing that went through my mind every meet," she said. "I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to be coached by him because I wouldn't have been half the athlete I am today if it wasn't for coach Bender motivating me. He was such a sweet man and he was always so supportive of me, so I was very motivated to win a championship here for him. To win two state titles in the last high school race of my career is even more special because it's something I've dreamed about since my freshman year."
Powell won the 100 hurdles in 13.98 seconds, well ahead of runner-up Arbria Williams (14.5) of Cincinnati Withrow.
"I was a little worried about my start because it's been iffy the whole season, so I'm glad it was good (in the final)," she said. "I felt so much pressure because I was the No. 1 seed. ... I finished second in this race last year (in 14.52), and that just motivated me to work even harder to come back and win it. This feels amazing."
Powell, who also placed fourth at state in the 100 hurdles (14.33) in 2012, won the 300 hurdles in 42.08, edging runner-up Nicey Bauman (42.22) of Olentangy. She was second (42.13) to Bauman (41.45) in the regional held May 28 and 30 at Pickerington North.
"I had a stress fracture in my (left) ankle and couldn't run this race last year, so this feels great to win this race," said Powell, who finished eighth at state in the 300 hurdles (43.7) in 2012 and sixth (44.9) in 2011.
Also at state, senior Gretchen Rosch tied for 10th in the pole vault (11 feet, 6 inches) and sophomore Megan Tamasovich placed 13th in the high jump (5-4).
Rosch had finished 11th (11-0) at state last year, while Tamasovich was making her first state appearance.
"It was really nice for Gretchen and I to be able to end our senior seasons here at state," Powell said.
Canal Winchester scored 20 points at state to tie Dublin Coffman for ninth behind champion Solon (47) as 77 teams scored.
Powell won the 100 hurdles at regional in a program- and meet-record 13.84, as the Indians finished seventh (33) behind champion Pickerington Central (75) as 41 teams scored.
Tamasovich and Rosch placed second (5-4) and third (11-8) in their respective events at regional.
Also competing at regional were sophomore Julia Blum, who finished eighth in the 100 (12.64) and ninth in the long jump (15-9 3/4), and sophomore Joelle Zuberi, who finished ninth in the 3,200 (11:44.59).
Canal Winchester finished third (73.5) in the 17-team district 3 meet that concluded May 24 at Hilliard Darby, behind Hilliard Davidson (129) and Granville (107), as Powell won both the 300 hurdles (44.23) and 100 hurdles (14.18).
The Indians were runners-up in their first season in the OCC-Cardinal Division, scoring 112 points in the league meet held May 15 and 17 to finish behind Dublin Scioto (116) and ahead of Westerville South (110), Hilliard Bradley (93.5), Westerville North (67), Westerville Central (66.5), Dublin Jerome (66) and Darby (31).
Powell won league titles in the 200 (26.08), 300 hurdles (45.91), 100 (12.41) and 100 hurdles (14.74), and Rosch won the league title in the pole vault by clearing 11-6, which tied the meet record.
"Coach (Darren) Avery took over the team under difficult circumstances and he did an amazing job of making sure we stepped it up this year," Powell said. "We're losing some good seniors, but we have some incredible young athletes on the team and they should do well again next year."
Powell leads boys track team at state
Jermil Powell was the lone representative of the boys track and field team in the Division I state meet, placing seventh in the high jump (6-6).
The senior, who was seeded second at state, had tied for ninth in the event (6-4) at state a year ago.
"My goal was to make it back here my senior year, and I had fun here," Powell said. "This was the best I've done at state, so it was one of the highlights of my career. When I attempted 6-7, I almost cleared it on my first attempt, but my legs hit the bar on the way down."
Canal Winchester scored two points at state to tie for 58th behind champion Cleveland Glenville (40) as 71 teams scored.
Powell won the high jump in a personal-record 6-8 at regional, as the Indians tied for 22nd (10) behind champion Pickerington North (74) as 37 teams scored.
Also competing at regional were the 800 relay of junior Trae Johnson, senior Willy Totten, junior Elijah Miller and freshman Lonzell Feagin (ninth, 1:31.33), Miller in the 400 (12th, 51.9) and freshman Danny Jones in the discus (no distance).
Canal Winchester finished ninth (42) in the 16-team district 3 meet behind champion Davidson (122).
The Indians finished sixth (55) in the OCC-Cardinal meet, behind Westerville Central (129), Darby (108.5), Bradley (105), Jerome (97.5) and Westerville North (69) and ahead of Westerville South (49) and Scioto (42).
Powell won the league title in the high jump (6-4).
"We had a great season," coach Kurtis Robinson said. "The OCC was a huge adjustment (after having competing in the MSL-Buckeye) because we were in the strongest division, top-to-bottom, track-wise. We continued to get better all season and we got our first relay to regional during my (two-year) tenure as head coach. Jermil also was the regional champ in the high jump, which was unexpected.
"We're only losing two seniors who were scorers in Jermil Powell and Willy Totten, so I think we will continue to improve next year."