Senior Emily Richards and sophomore Ethan Tucky represented the Delaware Hayes High School track and field teams in the Division I state meet held June 6 and 7 at Ohio State.
Richards qualified for state in the 400 meters by finishing third in a program-record 56.86 seconds in the regional meet held May 28 and 30 at Pickerington North. The top four finishers in each event advanced to state.
Richards is the first state qualifier for the girls team since 2009, when Anasa Matthews placed sixth in the discus and eighth in the shot put.
"I worked for four years for this and (qualifying for state) just seems so surreal," said Richards, who ran 58.36 in the event in the district 3 meet that concluded May 24 at Hilliard Darby to place third. "I was running 58s and 59s in the OCC (-Capital Division meet held May 15 and 17) and district, so I wasn't expecting to drop that much.
"I made it to regional as a sophomore and finished eighth and I used that to fuel me, I guess, but I'm amazed with the time. I don't know what happened, other than the adrenaline rush."
Entering regional, the program record in the 400 was 57.7, set by Carrie Banks in 1994. Richards topped that mark in the preliminaries by running 57.34.
"Emily had a fantastic regional performance," girls coach Andy Graham said. "Not only did she break the school record in the 400 twice, she just missed the school record in the 100. Competing in the state meet is a great way for Emily to finish her career."
Richards finished sixth in the 100 in 12.56 after running 12.32 in the preliminaries. The program record in the event is 12.3, held by Pam McPherson.
"This was my first year running the 100, so I'm proud of what I did," said Richards, who was district runner-up in 12.56. "But my comfort race is the 400, and that's what I wanted the most."
Tucky advanced to state in the 100 by placing fourth (11.05). He nearly qualified in the 200 as well, as he finished fifth (21.92), one spot behind Westerville Central's David Hatchett (21.77), who secured the final state berth.
"It is a pleasure for me to see Ethan earn the right to run in the state meet," boys coach Greg White said. "Ethan has worked all season to achieve this goal. Our athletes have devoted themselves to the goal of competing at state, and it is really special when athletes are able to achieve that goal.
"Making it to the regional final in two events was also a special thing for Ethan, and he just missed qualifying in the 200."
"I was fifth in the district last year, so my goal was just to reach the regional this year," Tucky said.
"This is only my second year in track. Although I was ninth in the 60 meters in the indoor state meet, this is beyond belief."
Also competing at regional for the girls team was the 800 relay of freshman Brooke Glesenkamp, sophomore Macie Wright, junior Tiarra Avant and Richards (10th, 1:47 .02).
"It was tough seeing our (800 relay) season come to an end," Graham said. "They ran well. The other teams were just faster than us."
Tucky also competed at regional on two relays. The 800 relay of seniors Caleb Howell, Tyler Treese and Brendan Conley and Tucky placed 12th (1:31.6) and the 400 relay of Howell, Conley, freshman Deven Ward and Tucky was 15th (45.82).
"The relay teams ran well," White said. "We had some issues with exchanges, but they did well. It is really tough to see a group of seniors that are such great young men leave the program.
"Brendan Conley, Tyler Treese and Caleb Howell were all three very important members of our team."
Also competing at regional for the boys team was senior Collin Wittig, who finished 13th in the shot put (47 feet, 5 1/2 inches). He had placed third at district in 50-2 3/4.
"I know that Collin Wittig is not happy with his performance, but he has been a great leader for our throwers and has set the bar really high for our younger throwers," White said.
The girls team scored nine points at regional to tie Westerville Central for 23rd behind champion Pickerington Central (75) as 41 teams scored.
The boys team scored nine points to tie Big Walnut for 26th behind champion Pickerington North (74) as 37 teams scored.