Track & Field
Coffman girls enjoy success at state meet
Despite competing in only four events in the Division I state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State, the Dublin Coffman High School girls track and field team made the most of its opportunities.
The Shamrocks reached the podium in each of those events with top-eight finishes.
Sophomore Oyesade Olatoye finished second in the shot put with a personal-best effort of 44 feet, 10 inches.
"I had it in my head that I wasn't here to win (the shot put), but to go for my personal best," said Olatoye, who also was eighth in the discus (133-9). "When I threw that (the second-place throw), it was effortless. I couldn't believe it."
Olentangy Orange's Katelyn Daniels won the shot put (state-record 51-2) and discus (161-7).
Last season, Olatoye was third in the shot put with her previous best of 43-5.
"Last year, it was amazing that I even was able to get here as a freshman," said Olatoye, whose team finished 12th (16 points) at state behind champion Solon (47) as 74 teams scored. "I placed and threw in the offseason and lifted weights.
"This year, the competition was a lot tougher (at state). All of the final throws were close; there were a lot of good throwers. I usually throw around 42ish (in the shot put) and a lot of people were throwing 41s here. I knew I had to be at my best (to reach the podium)."
Senior Rachel Weber finished third in the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 11.9 seconds. Hilliard Davidson's Lauren Hoover won (2:10.13) and Rachel Kotchman of Brecksville-Broadview Heights was second (2:11.2).
"(Finishing third) was great because I was sick last year and didn't get out of regional," said Weber, an Ohio State recruit. "That made it sweeter after missing out last year.
"Then when I was up on the podium, they ran the wheelchair 800 for the first time. That was neat to watch, and being able to watch it from the podium made it even better."
Weber joined seniors Rylee Axner, McKenzie Bailey and Kaylee Taylor on the eighth-place 1,600 relay (3:57.09). Weber passed Geneva's Emily Deering near the finish to secure another spot on the podium.
"We ended up where we were seeded," Bailey said. "Before the race, we knew we had to run together and do our best just to get up there (on the podium)."
Axner led off the relay, getting the Shamrocks in early position to medal.
"We ran in the same lane (in the preliminary), so I knew what it would be like," she said. "I had someone in the outside lane and that helped."
The quartet participated in graduation ceremonies earlier in the day at Value City Arena, which is south of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. During the 1,600 relay, they could hear their classmates cheering them on from a corner of the track.
"When I went around the turn (in the southeast corner of the stadium), there were a whole lot of our friends there yelling at us, cheering us on," Taylor said. "That was pretty great, and really got us going."
The Coffman boys did not have a competitor at state. Lakewood St. Edward won with 62 points as 62 teams scored.
Willette, Leitch reach podium for Jerome
Jerome senior Kaitlyn Willette finished fourth at state in the girls 800 (personal-best 2:12.64) and junior Mitch Leitch finished sixth in the boys 3,200 (personal-best 9:17.02).
The trip to the podium capped a big day for Willette.
"It's great that my last high school race will be where I have my first college race next year," said Willette, an Ohio State signee. "That was a blessing, and it's been a great day. I graduated at 11 a.m. (June 8) at (Value City Arena).
"I think I was a little scared, and my first lap was too slow. (I was nervous because) I knew going into it that it was going to be my last high school race."
Willette's performance enabled the girls team to tie Cincinnati Walnut Hills, Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, Huber Heights Wayne and Sylvania Northview for 42nd (5).
Leitch almost had a forgetful day, arriving at state with two left spikes in his gym bag. He borrowed a right shoe from Newark's Anthony Johnson, who had just won the 800 title (1:51.58) only two events before the 3,200.
"I can't believe I ran my best time. I had to borrow a shoe and (Johnson) wears an 11 1/2 and I wear a 13," said Leitch, whose right toes were scraped from the race. "I didn't really feel anything (pain-wise) until after the race. I can feel it now."
Junior teammate Jake Mandel finished 11th in the 3,200 (9:27.13).
Leitch and Mandel competed in the 3,200 relay with junior Graham Stecz and sophomore Nick Foley, finishing 16th in 8:06.88.
"We have a young (3,200 relay) and all of us are coming back," Leitch said. "We got a taste of state this year and that will help us when we make it back."
The boys tied Centerville, Hudson, Lexington, Strongs-ville and Tallmadge for 41st (3).
Scioto girls place 11th in 400 relay
The Scioto girls team's 400 relay of freshman Nykee Scruggs, senior Aysia Prewitt, senior Charissa Newkirk and junior Madison Scurlock finished 11th in 49.26.
"I try to run the curves, but when you are in the first lane, you have the rail on the line right where you normally run," Newkirk said.
"That can make it tough because you are behind everyone anyway."
The Irish did not score at state.
"I think we ran OK, even though we didn't get our (best time)," Prewitt said. "It's so hard to tell how you do when you're out there competing."
Scioto did not have any competitors in the boys meet.