Rebecca Rings and Kaitlyn Willette are dissimilar runners who run similar times in the 800 meters.

Rebecca Rings and Kaitlyn Willette are dissimilar runners who run similar times in the 800 meters.

Rings, a senior on the Dublin Jerome High School girls track and field team, has the top 800 performance (2 minutes, 17.2 seconds) in the area honor roll while Willette, her junior teammate, is fourth (2:20).

That doesn't surprise Jerome distance coach Dave Stroh.

"They don't look alike at all," Stroh said. "Rebecca is long, tall and lean, and Kaitlyn is smaller, compact and physically strong. I don't think we would get many pushups out of Rebecca, but Kaitlyn could probably do 50.

"They are focused and intense, without being uptight. They know when to work and when to have fun."
Rings holds the program record in the 800, going 2:14.83 to place fourth in the Division I state meet last year at Ohio State. Her 2:17.2 in the Dublin Coffman Classic on April 14 was the meet record. She also holds program records in the 400 (57.5 in 2011) and the 1,600 (5:16.31 in 2010).

"As a freshman, I started thinking I was a miler or a two-miler, but my sprinting ability started to come out," Rings said. "I have good endurance from cross country and I'm (5-foot-11), so maybe my long legs and stride help."

Willette set the program record in the 3,200 while finishing fourth (11:30.69) in the Coffman Classic.

"I see the two-mile as more of a cross country race. I can't think of it as eight laps or that will seem too long," she said. "I have the mindset that it's just one race and that helps."

Stroh said both runners set a tempo and continue the pace throughout the event.

"Rebecca sets her pace and doesn't slow down," Stroh said. "She's not going to be a leader early in a good field, but she moves up slowly and pulls away in the middle 400.

"Kaitlyn is also a tempo runner, and you're not going to out-kick her."

The two also have been members of two of the program's record-setting relays – the 1,600 and 3,200. They joined seniors Kelsey Cautela and Amy Erdelsky on the 1,600 relay that placed 10th at state last year in 3:56.22. The record-holding 3,200 relay, which included 2011 graduate Audrey White and junior Brooke Boyle, went 9:35.8 while finishing second in the district 2 meet at Hilliard Bradley last spring.

This season, the 3,200 relay of Rings, Willette, Boyle and Erdelsky is second in the area (9:45.68).

Willette also reached the Division I state cross country meet last fall and finished 20th in 18:44.1.

"Going to state definitely helps a lot," Willette said. "I found out just how many other people love running and how hard they work to get there. That makes me want to work harder to get back. Once you get there, you want to go back again and again."

Rings also ran cross country, but was slowed by injury.

"I broke my collarbone water skiing just after the track season, so I didn't do as much conditioning as I would have liked because of the brace on my arm," she said. "But I've always had trouble with the 5K distance. I'm not as comfortable with that as I am in the 800."

Stroh has his 800 runners break down the race into three portions – 300 meters, 400 and the final 100. Rings said the strategy has worked well.

"The distance is short enough in the 800," she said. "In the first 300, you go at your own pace and then react to what others do in the next 400 and hold people off in the final 100."

"To run the 800, you need a combination of speed, strength and a bit of toughness," Stroh said. "You really have to push yourself physically and get to that red line quickly. You have to be exhausted when you run the 800. You can't have anything left after that."

Coach Randi Beatty isn't surprised by the success Rings and Willette have had in the 800.

"We knew the potential was there because of the way they ran the (3,200 relay)," Beatty said. "They are very focused."