Lauren Hoover of the Hilliard Davidson High School girls track and field team was somewhat irritated when a thunderstorm delayed the conclusion of the Division I regional meet May 31 at Pickerington North.
The senior already had won the 1,600 meters in 5 minutes, 6.59 seconds and was gearing up to run the 800 when lightning forced everyone indoors for more than an hour.
Even though the delay was an inconvenience, it proved to be a blessing in disguise for Hoover, as it gave her additional time to rest between her races and cooled off what had been a warm, humid day.
Relatively fresh, Hoover won the 800 in 2:12.16, edging runner-up Kaitlyn Willette of Dublin Jerome (2:12.9).
"I was mad at first, but the delay helped me be more fresh for the 800 and the rain cooled off the track," Hoover said. "This is really special because I was hoping to be a champion in both races."
The top four finishers in each regional event qualified for the state meet Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8, at Ohio State.
Last year at state, Hoover placed fourth in the 1,600 (5:01.07).
"I may just run the 800 if it's hot. We'll see," Hoover said. "My goal is to become a state champion in the 800. I think I'll have to run sub-2:10 to put myself in a position to win. I'll need to be a little more aggressive during the first lap than I was (at regional) to put myself in a position to win."
Also advancing to state for the girls team were sophomore Molly Balcer in the high jump (second, 5 feet, 4 inches), the 3,200 relay of Hoover, junior Jane Haines, senior Elsa Saelens and sophomore Lilly Saniel-Banrey (third, 9:29.96) and freshman Jane Onders in the 3,200 (fourth, 11:18.02).
"We weren't expecting to make it in the 3,200 relay, so we're happy with third," Hoover said. "Our goal for state is to reach the podium (top eight)."
Onders edged Gahanna's Kelsey Sandlin (11:18.07) for the final state-qualifying berth.
"I didn't think I'd make it to state this year," Onders said. "But I used (the weather) to my advantage because I like running in cooler weather and at night.
"I just want to do my best at state. I want to score for my team there."
Balcer also will be making her first state appearance.
Also competing in the regional meet, which began May 29, were junior Ashley Blake in the 100 (fifth, 12.62) and 200 (ninth, 27.01), Balcer in the long jump (sixth, 16-5 1/4), junior Mackenzie Brown in the pole vault (sixth, 10-4), Saniel-Banrey in the 1,600 (seventh, 5:18.14), the 1,600 relay of Hoover, freshman Iman Batiste, senior Lizzy Litzinger and Blake (eighth, 4:01.43) and the 800 relay of Batiste, Litzinger, senior Maddie Gallagher and senior Cassy Catlett (13th, 1:19.16).
Davidson scored 52 points at regional to finish third behind Pickerington North (99) and Granville (59.5) as 39 teams scored.
Junior Phillipie Motley led the boys team at regional, placing second in the 100 (10.77) and third in the 200 (21.87).
"It was really hard to run in this weather and get out because we were splashing through puddles as we ran," he said. "I just want to do the best I can in these races at state because a lot of good seniors will be competing there."
Motley also advanced to state as a member of the 800 relay, teaming with juniors DaMarcus Nelson, Joe Bernard and Dametrius Clark to finish fourth (1:28.39), and 1,600 relay, teaming with Bernard, Clark and Nelson to place third (3:19.38).
"I was in sixth when I got the baton (in the 800 relay) and I was the anchor runner, so I just ran hard because I knew I could catch some of those guys," Motley said. "We ran well for a group of juniors, but we still have work to do because we want to get on the state podium."
Last year at state, the 1,600 relay of Nelson, Clark, Motley and 2012 graduate Jack Kincade finished sixth (3:22.22).
"We're proud of Phillipie for running four races this well and we're really happy we qualified for state again," Clark said. "We want to run a 3:17 and try to beat sixth because that's where we finished last year."
Also qualifying for state were Bernard in the 400 (fourth, 49.54) and senior Tyler Anthony in the discus (fourth, 155-0).
"This is my first year running track since my freshman year, and at the beginning of the season, I never imagined I'd be here," Bernard said. "This is the best time I've ever run in the 400. Now, I really want to make it to the state finals."
Also competing at regional were Nelson in the 300 hurdles (sixth, 40.51) and long jump (12th, 20-5 3/4), junior Garrett Knapik in the 3,200 (eighth, 9:36.88), sophomore Colin Burdette in the 1,600 (ninth, 4:35.81), the 3,200 relay of Burdette, Knapik, sophomore Johnny McKeown and freshman Robert LeFevre (11th, 8:28.49), the 400 relay of junior Garrett McIlvain, LeFevre, Clark and senior Michael Kreiser (11th, 44.52), senior Jonathan Ellis in the 400 (11th, 52.96), McIlvain in the pole vault (12th, 13-0) and freshman Jacob Ross in the high jump (10th, 6-2) and long jump (14th, 20-3/4).
Davidson finished fifth (39) at regional behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
Darby boys, girls fail to reach state
No members of the Darby boys and girls teams advanced to state.
Freshman Daniel Reynolds came the closest to qualifying, as he placed fifth in the 1,600 (4:22.92), getting passed by Olentangy Liberty's Zach VanGundy (4:22.78) at the finish line.
"I was pushing myself and, the way the crowd was screaming, I could tell that someone was right behind me," Reynolds said. "He stepped right in front of me at the finish line and took my heart out. I ran with a lot of heart, but it wasn't enough."
Also competing for the boys team were the 400 relay of juniors Tim Lines and Colin Rack and sophomores Cal Kelleher and Dwayne Oates (sixth, 43.15), senior Jaleel Johnson in the high jump (seventh, 6-4), junior Josh Humbert in the discus (seventh, 149-9) and the 3,200 relay of Reynolds, junior Ryan Baldridge, sophomore Chase Hampton and senior Kunal Verma (eighth, 8:12.46).
"We were really pumped for this race," Tines said of the 400 relay. "We just ran our (personal record) here, so it feels like a victory even though we didn't make it to state. We don't have any seniors on this relay, so we'll come back and try again next year."
Darby scored 12 points to finish 16th.
Competing for the girls team were senior Jordan Alexander in the 300 hurdles (sixth, 46.71), senior Julissa Poullet in the 1,600 (sixth, 5:16.98) and high jump (11th, 5-0) and the 400 relay of freshmen Anaya Lewis and Skylar Jacobs, sophomore Taylor Kennedy and senior Nikki Misiolek (15th, 52.15).
"I did everything I was supposed to do (in the 1,600), but I didn't run as well as I wanted on the last lap," Poullet said. "Running here was bittersweet because I really wanted to make it to state."
Darby scored six points to finish 28th.
Bradley also ends season at regional
The Bradley boys and girls teams also did not have any state qualifiers.
Competing at regional for the boys team were junior Eric McCabe in the 3,200 (sixth, 9:33.37), senior Nick Christensen in the 3,200 (seventh, 9:35.63), junior Skylar Hartley in the shot put (13th, 45-11 1/2) and senior Fraser Smith in the discus (16th, 103-2).
"This was a good way for us to end our season, by getting (personal records) in our last race," McCabe said. "We hung with the leaders for as long as we could."
Competing for the girls team were the 400 relay of freshman Ariel Brown, senior Kayla Malik, sophomore Hope Sawchuk and junior Sydney Rings (eighth, 50.25), Malik in the 100 (10th, 13.16), sophomore Sara Reitz in the long jump (11th, 15-10), sophomore Tes Corea in the 800 (13th, 2:27.28) and junior Cierra Allen in the long jump (15th, 15-2 3/4).
"Our 400 relay had good handoffs to reach the final," girls coach Thom Nees said.
The boys team finished 29th (5) and the girls team 39th (1).