It's not hard to understand why Abby Steiner calls the Division I state meet her favorite days of the year.
Because of what she's accomplished during her first three years competing at that meet for the Dublin Coffman High School girls track and field team, Steiner has put herself on pace to be among the most decorated athletes from central Ohio in the history of the sport.
The junior added two state records and three more state championships to her portfolio at this year's meet June 2 and 3 at Ohio State, less than 10 months after having surgery on her right knee to repair a torn ACL.
Steiner won her third consecutive championship in the 200 meters in a state-record 23.56 seconds, won her second consecutive 100 title in 11.61 and anchored the 800 relay to a come-from-behind victory for the second year in a row.
In addition, during the preliminaries June 2, Steiner tied the state record of 11.59 in the 100 set by Brookhaven's Khalilah Carpenter in 2000.
"I accomplished all my goals," Steiner said. "(It means) so much especially after this year dealing with the injury and just a lot of setbacks. (The state record in the 200 was) definitely the most meaningful record I could probably ever want. My main focus was actually the 100."
In the 800 relay final, freshman Simone Rivard-Roberts, senior Wambui Watene and sophomore Isabelle Angerman had the Shamrocks among the top four when Steiner got the baton.
Steiner ran an unofficial split of 23.0 to rally her team to victory. The Shamrocks finished in 1:38.34, edging Cincinnati Withrow (1:38.88) for the title.
She closed state with her record performance in the open 200.
"I wasn't expecting a 200 state record at this point, especially toward the end of the season," Steiner said. "My legs usually feel heavy. So I looked up at the time and I was like, 'Does that say 23.5? I think it does.' I'm just really, really happy."
In the 800 relay, Angerman's focus was on getting as close to the front as possible for Steiner, who darted past Withrow's anchor runner during the final stretch of the race.
"(Coach Greg) King told me to just get close and Abby would do the rest," Angerman said.
Watene and Angerman also played key roles as the Shamrocks finished third (39 points) at state behind Withrow (58) and Gahanna (51) as 62 teams scored.
Watene earned a runner-up finish in the 300 hurdles (42.73) while Angerman took eighth in the same event (44.62).
"I'm disappointed in my 300 hurdles time, but I'm just happy being on the podium as a sophomore," Angerman said.
Watene and Angerman also ran on the 16th-place 1,600 relay with juniors Gabby McCloy and Jennifer Schulze (4:07.41).
Watene, who has committed to Ball State, also ran on the 800 relay that won state last year.
"My hurdles form could have definitely been a little better (in the 300 hurdles final)," Watene said. "It was my goal to do well."
Five of Coffman's six state competitors were underclassmen.
Coffman scored 146.5 points in the OCC-Central Division meet May 11 and 13 at home to place second, behind Hilliard Davidson (156) and ahead of Marysville (100.5), Upper Arlington (80), Central Crossing (28) and Westland (10).
Aside from Watene, the only senior to compete in the regional meet May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North was Megan Cameron, who didn't record a height in the pole vault after capturing the title (12 feet) in the 17-team district 1 meet that concluded May 20 at Hilliard Darby.
The Shamrocks won the district title (94) ahead of runner-up Westerville Central (86) and placed third (54) at regional behind Gahanna (97) and Pickerington Central (71) as 35 teams scored.
Others eligible to return include juniors Dana Axner (sprints), Marissa Kruse (middle distance) and Ellie Weber (distance), sophomores SeRaye Bray (sprints) and Samia Juras (high jump) and freshmen Lydia Ainsworth (middle distance), Kinsey Crabtree (sprints), Ashley Fitzgerald (high jump) and Karlee North (pole vault).
Bons leads boys
track team at state
Junior Lucas Bons capped his season with the boys track and field team with a third-place finish in the 1,600 (4:09.89) in the Division I state meet June 3.
After earning a runner-up finish (4:11.62) at regional behind Thomas Worthington's Arjun Jha (4:10.33), the two central Ohio standouts came in just behind Liberty Township Lakota East's Dustin Horter (4:08.38) at state. Jha was leading until the final stretch but settled for runner-up (4:09.09).
Bons' performance gave Coffman six points to tie for 33rd behind champion Thomas (36) as 80 teams scored.
"I was so happy when I crossed that line," Bons said. "I expected to go out hard. It was a really nice race."
Bons also competed with juniors Ryan Bosworth and Arnaldo Gonzalez Calero and freshman Alex Dediu on the 3,200 relay that placed 15th (8:10.72) on June 2.
"It was really fun to run at the state meet," Dediu said. "I watched state last year, but it's a lot different being here."
Coffman's other state competitor was sophomore Derek Van Vlerah, who took 11th in the high jump (6-2).
Van Vlerah was the OCC-Central champion in the high jump (6-1) and went 6-2 at regional to secure the fourth and final state-qualifying berth. He would have needed to go 6-4 at state to place among the top eight.
Among the season highlights for Coffman was winning its first league title since 2000. The Shamrocks scored 160 points in the league meet to place ahead of Davidson (133), Marysville (80), UA (69), Central Crossing (44) and Westland (35).
Others eligible to return include junior Jeslord Boateng (sprints) and Nathan Sears (middle distance), sophomores Morgan Adams (middle distance), Evan Borland (sprints), Adam Dehmani (hurdles, pole vault) and Kaleb Holcomb (shot put) and freshmen Michael Ching (hurdles), Jameel Williamson (sprints) and Takeru Yamaoka (sprints).