Track & Field
Hoover wins state title in 800 meters
Lauren Hoover of the Hilliard Davidson girls track and field team planned on staying in the middle of the pack for the first half of the 800 meters in the Division I state meet before moving up.
The senior was in fifth place midway through the race and moved up to fourth with 200 meters remaining. She then surged into first place over the next 50 meters and, as thousands of fans cheered, she outsprinted her opponents to the finish line to win the event in 2 minutes, 10.13 seconds.
Rachel Kotchman of Brecksville-Broadview Heights was runner-up (2:11.2).
"My plan was to move up a little bit each 100 (meters), but I felt good and I just made a move late in the race," Hoover said. "I was shocked I was in first at that point and I thought I was going to be challenged, so I sprinted in once we came around the (final) curve.
"This is insane. It hasn't set all the way in yet, but this has been my dream since my freshman year and, in the final race of my high school career, it finally became a reality."
Hoover also had qualified for the state meet held June 7 and 8 at Ohio State in the 1,600, but chose not to compete in the event in order to focus on the 800. She had finished fourth at state in the 1,600 (5:01.07) last year.
"I'm glad I dropped the 1,600 because this is the first time I've felt this fresh for the 800 all season," Hoover said. "My training has been more geared toward the 800 this year, and I knew that I had a better shot at doing well in the 800 than in the 1,600.
"Standing there on top of the (awards) podium, looking at all of those people (in the stands), I could only think, 'Is this for real?'"
Hoover teamed with junior Jane Haines, senior Elsa Saelens and sophomore Lilly Saniel-Banrey to place fifth in the 3,200 relay (9:23.07).
"This is the best this relay has done at state in the four years I've been here," Hoover said. "Our goal was to make the podium, so this is awesome.
"We didn't even make it to state in the 3,200 relay last year and we weren't expected to do this well this year. It's just been a great year for us."
Davidson was seeded 11th in the 3,200 relay but was in first place when Hoover handed the baton to Haines after the first leg.
"I think we surprised ourselves with how well we did here," Saelens said. "Lauren was our anchor runner, but we switched her to our lead runner because we never could really catch up to our opponents when we got too far behind. Lauren ran a great leg to put us in first."
Saniel-Banrey was in fifth place when she received the baton from Saelens but dropped back to seventh with 400 meters remaining before passing two runners in the final 200 meters.
"I felt a lot of good pressure here because I knew that we had a chance to lose our spot on the podium if I didn't run well," Saniel-Banrey said. "I didn't start off so well, but I passed one or two girls at the end to help us stay on the podium."
Sophomore Molly Balcer placed fifth in the high jump (5 feet, 4 inches) behind champion Loretta Blaut of Cincinnati Seton (5-7).
"Molly went under the radar all year and she was our biggest surprise at state," coach Matt Beatty said. "It came down to misses and Molly didn't miss at any height until she reached 5-4. I couldn't be more proud of her performance here."
Also competing at state for Davidson was freshman Jane Onders, who finished 15th in the 3,200 (11:50.83).
"I just wanted to run my hardest and get a good experience here," she said. "It was really exciting to run in front of all these people. It was an awesome experience."
Davidson scored 18 points at state to tie Chesterland West Geauga for ninth behind champion Solon (47) as 74 squads scored. The Bradley and Darby girls teams did not have any state qualifiers.
Davidson boys place fifth in two events
The Davidson boys team was represented in six events in the Division I state meet.
The 1,600 relay of juniors Joe Bernard, Dametrius Clark, DaMarcus Nelson and Phillipie Motley placed fifth (3:18.12).
Clark received the baton from Bernard in eighth place but moved up to fourth before handing the baton to Nelson.
"I was feeling it and my teammates were encouraging me," Clark said. "I'm just glad we did better than sixth, because that's where we finished here last year."
The same four runners combined to place eighth in the 800 relay (1:29.12).
Motley also competed in two individual events, placing fifth in the 100 (10.91) and 10th in the 200 (22.08).
"I knew it was going to be a fast race, so I just turned it up and did what I could as a junior," Motley said of the 100. "This was good for my first time running here in the 100. It felt good just to be here."
Bernard also competed in the 400, finishing 12th (50.45).
"It's been a fun season and I'm glad I decided to run track this year," Bernard said. "I think we could have done better, but it was good to run with my friends at state."
Also competing at state for the Wildcats was senior Tyler Anthony, who finished 13th in the discus (153-1).
"Tyler didn't throw very well here, but I'm glad he was able to make it to the state meet for the first time ever as a senior," coach Jim Smith said.
Davidson scored nine points at state to tie Chardon and Mentor for 23rd behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (62) as 62 teams scored. The Bradley and Darby boys teams did not have any state qualifiers.