The Watkins Memorial High School girls track and field team's 3,200-meter relay had plenty of ground to make up if it hoped to reach this week's Division I state track and field meet in the Ohio State University's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

The Watkins Memorial High School girls track and field team's 3,200-meter relay had plenty of ground to make up if it hoped to reach this week's Division I state track and field meet in the Ohio State University's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

That's when junior Morgan Reichert spied a familiar figure after she took the baton to begin the second leg during the regional final last Wednesday at Pickerington North. At the time, the Warriors were running 13th in the 16-team race with only the top four finishers advancing to the state meet.

"It was Upper Arlington ... again," Reichert said referring specifically to classmate Bethany Yunker, who was running in the lead group.

Keying off Yunker, Reichert ran a spirited split to move the Warriors into seventh place by the time she handed off to freshman Stephanie Robb, who found an extra kick in the home stretch as the team improved to fourth.

"I just knew I didn't need to get it (back) all at once," Reichert said. "I was confident we could do it."

From that point, there was no denying junior anchorman Mara White. She completed the qualifying time of 9 minutes, 25.47 seconds, which not only set a program record, but also earned the group a third-place finish. Hilliard Davidson won (9:22.68), Dublin Coffman placed second (9:24.62) and the Golden Bears were fourth (9:25.83). The relay also includes sophomore Kara Sparks, who competed earlier this spring despite a fractured ankle.

"My goal was to catch us up enough for Mara to have a chance," Robb said.

Adding to the drama was the fact that Reichert and Yunker collided running the same leg together during the regional final last year, resulting in Watkins Memorial's disqualification as Upper Arlington placed fourth.

"That was another big motivator for us," said Reichert, whose relay team previously set the program record a week earlier in winning a District 3 title (9:28.9) over the runner-up Golden Bears (9:34.78). "We knew it was going to be tough running two amazing races like that back-to-back, but we did it. Hopefully, we've got another one in us."

Senior Cody Chaney placed third in the boys long jump last Thursday at 21 feet, 10 inches and qualified for state. Teammate Joey Rich finished fifth (21-2 1/2) and was the only participant who improved his placement in the finals. Senior Emory George also qualified by placing third in the boys discus (147-7).

"After I went to run the 100 (prelim) I went downhill," Chaney said. "My heart's still pumping, to be honest with you. I'm really happy to make it. Now I can let it all hang out."

ELSEWHERE - The highlight of the Division II regional meet last Thursday in Dayton was Licking Valley's Austin Durbin winning the boys pole vault (14-6), which was a personal best. Other state qualifiers included Heath's Nelson Scott in the boys long jump (second, 22-3), Heath's Liz Clippinger in the girls discus (third, 113-5) and the Granville girls 3,200 relay (fourth, 9:36.6).

In Division III, defending boys discus state champion Clay Harris of Newark Catholic placed second (170-0) during the regional meet last Thursday at Fairfield Union as North Robinson Colonel Crawford's Isiah Kent set a meet record (184-8). The old mark (171-5) had stood since 1993.

The regional meets concluded last Friday and Saturday.

At a glance

Below is the schedule for the state meet in Ohio State's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium:

FRIDAY - 9 a.m., Division II field events; 9:30 a.m., Division III track preliminaries and 3,200 relay finals; noon and 3 p.m., Division III field events; 1:30 p.m., Division II track prelims and 3,200 relay finals; 4:45 p.m., Division I track prelims and 3,200 relay finals; SATURDAY - 9 a.m., Division II field events; 9:30 a.m., Division III track finals; noon and 3 p.m., Division I field events; 1 p.m., Division II track finals; 4:30 p.m., Division I track finals