Karrington Winters of the New Albany High School girls track and field team thought all season she would need to run 53 seconds, or possibly as fast as 52.5, to repeat as the Division I state champion in the 400 meters.
She didn't, but the sophomore didn't need to, either.
Leading a tight race with about 100 meters to go June 8 at Ohio State, Winters turned on the burners and won in 53.59. Runner-up Stephanie Ferrante of Chardon finished in 54.76.
"When we came around the last curve I was in the lead and I could hear their spikes right behind me, and then that sound started to fade," Winters said. "The last 100 meters were all heart. I wanted this so bad."
Winters won last year in 53.95, and she was the Division I state indoor champion this year in the 400 (55.38). A pulled muscle in her stomach makes it difficult to breathe at times, but Winters said she didn't feel any pain as she eased away from the field.
"It hurts when I breathe, but I didn't feel (the pulled muscle) during this race because of the adrenaline," said Winters, who isn't shy about sharing her goals for the second half of her prep career. "This is my second state title and I want to do what Jessica Beard and (Reynoldsburg graduate) Destinee Gause did, because I've looked up to them for a long time."
Gause, now a freshman at the University of Florida, won a state-record 12 titles, including four consecutive in the 200 from 2009-12.
Beard is a Euclid product who won four consecutive 400 championships from 2004-07, set the 400 state record of 51.63 in 2007 and helped the U.S. 1,600 relay to a gold medal at the IAAF World Championships in 2009.
Earlier June 8, Winters finished fifth (12.31) behind Gause's younger sister, Diamond Gause, in the 100. Gause, also from Reynoldsburg, won in 11.98.
Winters earned all 14 points at state for the Eagles, who tied Olentangy for 16th behind champion Solon (47) as 74 teams scored.
In her second state meet but first as an individual, senior Cynthia Cox was 15th in the 200 (26.19). Cox, who was part of the 1,600 relay (14th, 4:01.59) last year, missed qualifying for the final by 1.11 seconds.
Cox had the 13th-fastest qualifying time after finishing fourth (25.99) at regional and was assigned to the outside lane.
"The turn is probably the worst part because you start back so far from everybody else. People slingshot out and get you. It wasn't my best run," she said. "I just had to hit the curve as hard as I possibly could. That was it. I knew if I could get around the curve, I'd be in better shape, but I didn't get out as fast as I could."
Boys team's Frye third in high jump
For the second consecutive year, senior Alex Frye of the boys team finished third at state in the high jump.
Frye jumped 6 feet, 8 inches to tie with Middletown's Jalin Marshall behind champion Tyler Brown of Findlay (6-10 1/4). Marshall, an Ohio State football recruit, earned second on a tie- breaker based on misses at lower heights. Frye missed twice at 6-6, and Marshall missed once.
"He is disappointed but if he wasn't, he wouldn't be the athlete he is," said girls coach Otis Winston, who works with Frye in the high jump. "He had the best height in the state this year (during the regular season, jumping 6-10 in the OCC-Capital Division meet May 16) and he was one of the favorites to win. He didn't do it, but I know I'm still proud of him."
Frye went 6-6 last year at state, and was third in the state indoor meet (6-7) in March.
He also advanced to the 110 hurdles final by placing seventh (14.53) in the preliminary, but scratched to focus on the high jump. Frye was 13th in the 300 hurdles (40.09).
The 400 relay finished fourth (42.08) with seniors Darron Lee and Alan Watson and juniors O.B. Oppong and Wyatt Johnston. Cincinnati Northwest won in a stadium-record 41.28, and the Eagles were just behind third-place Gahanna (41.98) and ahead of fifth-place Cleveland Heights (42.21).
New Albany tied Cleveland Glenville, Cleveland St. Ignatius and Middletown for 17th (11) behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (62) as 62 teams scored.