A few minutes after receiving a medal for reaching the podium in the Division III girls state track and field meet June 3 at Ohio State, Ready High School sophomore Lauren Whitt took a walk back to the awards tent.
She had been given a sixth-place medal for the 400 meters, but she actually had placed fourth in a personal-best and program-record 57.75 seconds.
The fact that she was fourth rather than sixth was significant to Whitt for another reason.
"I wanted to move up from last year because I came in sixth place last year," she said. "I wanted to work my way up this year. I just had the motivation from last year to push myself."
Whitt didn't run as well as she had hoped while placing third (58.91) at regional May 26 at Fairfield Union.
That time was just the 12th best heading into state among the 16 runners, but she ran 58.59 for the sixth-best time during the semifinal June 2.
The semifinal run came 90 minutes after Whitt had competed in the 3,200 relay, which meant the 400 was the only event she competed in during the second day of the state meet.
Her personal-best time entering state was 58.53.
"I felt pretty good," Whitt said. "I was feeling ready to prove myself."
Whitt scored five points for Ready, which tied for 43rd behind champion Anna (38) as 82 teams scored.
On the opening day of state, the 3,200 relay of senior Katie Perry, sophomore Sophia Hoersten, freshman Lindsey Bair and Whitt as anchor finished 10th (9:45.47). They had run a program-record 9:40.45 on May 24 to finish second at regional.
At state, the Knights moved into position to battle for a top-eight finish, and thus a spot on the podium, during Bair's third leg.
"I thought we had a lot of team chemistry and I just wanted to give it my all so that Lauren would get the baton in a good spot," Bair said. "I'm really glad I got to do this with Katie since she's a senior."
Perry was the only senior on a team that coach Rich Green believes could be a rising force in Division III.
After scoring 45 points to place behind Watterson (159), Hartley (125), DeSales (89.5) and Columbus School for Girls (73.5) in the CCL meet May 8 and 10 at CSG, the Knights were third (70) of 15 teams behind champion Mount Gilead (108) in the district 2 meet that concluded May 20 at Watkins Memorial.
In addition to the three underclassmen who competed at state, Ready also expects to return juniors Natalee Patel (long jump) and Allison Poe (discus, shot put) and sophomore Brigitte Bowman (hurdles, sprints).
At district, Whitt won the 400 (58.6), ran on the first-place 1,600 relay (4:06.11) with Perry, Bowman and Bair and was on the champion 3,200 relay (9:56.21) with the same group that competed at state.
"(Whitt) definitely peaked at the right time," Green said. "Our (3,200 relay) peaked a week too early, but we hadn't been here (for several years). I'm very happy with us getting our numbers back up. We're starting to do all the little stuff."
Strong group should
return in boys track
Of the five competitors the boys track team had at regional, three were lost to graduation.
Still, Green hopes the gradual improvement the team has made since he took over last season will continue.
"Other teams are seeing it and there's a lot more to talk about at our school," Green said. "Kids are seeing what we're doing and they're wishing they'd come out."
The Knights, who scored 17 points to place behind St. Charles (173), DeSales (153), Watterson (89) and Hartley (56) in the CCL meet, lose Alex Burns, Patrick Jansen, Ramon Rivera-Romero and Erik Manning to graduation.
At regional, Burns and Manning joined junior John Riewe and freshman Jack Foley on the 1,600 relay that was seventh (3:35.07), and Foley placed 14th in the 400 (54.67). The 800 relay of Burns, Jansen, Manning and Riewe was 12th (1:39.4).
Others eligible to return include juniors Clay Cutteridge (middle distance) and Shelrick McElroy (sprints), sophomores Austin Aiello (high jump, sprints), Grant Cordle (distance) and Sam Hardenbergh (sprints) and freshmen Kyle Caisaguano (middle distance) and Matt Frye (discus, hurdles, sprints).