Something awe-inspiring occurs when Gahanna Lincoln High School senior Jake Blankenship soars to the sky in the pole vault or when Reynoldsburg senior Tsehaye Hiluf outlasts opponents in a distance event and takes only a few moments to catch his breath.

Something awe-inspiring occurs when Gahanna Lincoln High School senior Jake Blankenship soars to the sky in the pole vault or when Reynoldsburg senior Tsehaye Hiluf outlasts opponents in a distance event and takes only a few moments to catch his breath.

It's equally astounding to watch seniors like Thomas Worthington's Nana Kyeremeh and Reynoldsburg's Destinee Gause and Eastmoor Academy junior Aaliyah Barnes sprint to the finish line seemingly faster than the speed of light.

Sometimes it makes me feel like I'm watching superheroes in action.

At the state track and field championships, to be held Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, about 10,000 people pack Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium for 20 hours of some of the most exhilarating exploits high school athletes can create.

Flashing back to last year, Blankenship set meet and stadium records and tied the state record by clearing a height of 17 feet in the pole vault. He went 17-1 to reset the state record May 17 in the Division I district meet.

Gause placed first either individually or on a relay in the state meet nine times during her first three prep seasons.

Hiluf won the 3,200 meters last June and followed with a state cross country title in November.

It seems like a foregone conclusion that Gause and Barnes will end up atop the awards stand in multiple events as they did last year.

Of course, one thing that makes the state track meet truly special is that even the safest bets sometimes don't turn out the way we expected.

We remember the performances of athletes like Eastmoor's Ayrizanna Favours, who won four consecutive 400 titles from 2002-05, and Westerville North's Ryan Wilson, who single-handedly gave the Warriors the state team title by winning three events in 1998.

The flip side of those celebrations is what athletes like Columbus West's Thomas Pannell, Brookhaven's Khalilah Carpenter and Hartley's Aisha Cavin experienced during their careers.

Pannell won the championship in the long jump in 2000, but as a senior in the 2001 state meet, he was disqualified by a meet official after his boxer shorts twice were exposed during the competition.

Carpenter won nine state titles for Brookhaven, including championships in the 100 and 200 in each of her first three seasons from 1998-2000.

But as a senior, she false-started in the 100 in a district semifinal and then in the state final of the 200 elected to scratch because of a cold.

Cavin entered last year's state meet as the defending Division II champion in the 400, but she turned in just the ninth-best preliminary time and finished last of nine athletes in the final.

For as illustrious of a career as Gause has had, even she has experienced some heartache in the state meet.

Gause has won three consecutive 200 state titles and won the 100 last year, but in the 2010 state meet, she false-started in the 100 semi-final.

Even the greatest athletes sometimes can't overcome their circumstances or the fear of failure that constantly lingers in the background.

"My biggest problem was battling my thoughts," Cavin said a year ago. "I just had too much anxiety."

In this year's state meet, there undoubtedly will be a feat or two that will make us feel as though we're watching greatness.

However, as the failures of some of these athletes show, competing in the state meet isn't for the faint of heart.

Jarrod Ulrey is a ThisWeek sportswriter. Follow his blog, "On the Recruiting Trail," for the latest in central Ohio high school recruiting news.