One team and two individuals from Licking County celebrated state championships June 3.
At the state track and field meet at Ohio State, Granville High School senior Natalie Price defended her Division I championship in the 400 meters and Heath senior Taylor Hopkins won the Division II title in the 800.
Later that day at Firestone Stadium in Akron, the Lakewood softball team captured its fifth state championship since 2008, including its second in a row in Division II, when it beat Akron Hoban 2-1.
Price closes prep
track career in style
Price scored 18 points at the state meet as Granville tied Sylvania Southview for 10th behind champion Cincinnati Withrow (58) as 62 teams scored.
“It’s really great,” she said. “I’m so excited.”
Price was state runner-up in the 100 (11.94) behind Dublin Coffman’s Abby Steiner (11.61) and then won the 400 in 52.96, finishing more than one second ahead of runner-up Jaydan Wood of Pickerington Central (54.16).
Last season at state, Price placed third in the 100 (11.9) and won the 400 (53.95).
Price, an Indiana University signee, believes she still has more to learn about the 400 even while being the state’s best.
“I was trying to run with a strategy, but I took out the first 200 too hard and didn’t have enough gas on the second,” Price said. “I felt like I got out pretty hard. It was one of those learning-experience races where I learned now not to take it out that hard and pace a little more so I can run harder on the second 200.”
The Granville boys team was represented at state by senior Jonny Lukins, who was runner-up in the 800 (1:53.48).
Hopkins leads Heath
at state track meet
Hopkins won the 800 state title in 1:54.46 and was runner-up in the 1,600 (4:14.65).
On June 2, Hopkins joined juniors Nick Lee, Wyatt McQueen and Chandler Wilhelm on the fifth-place 3,200 relay (7:59.66).
Wilhelm added a fourth-place finish in the 800 (1:55.85) as the Bulldogs placed fourth (27) behind champion Dayton Dunbar (33) as 72 teams scored.
“I was just going to wait and see and just let the (800) take care of itself,” Hopkins said. “Last year I got boxed in, so I learned from it and got out and it was a good race. I just think (getting second in the 1,600) made me want to win this even more because I was not going to graduate without a state title.”
Competing at state for the Heath girls team were senior Rachel Elam, who finished 11th in the 300 hurdles (46.18), and senior Amanda Adams, who was 16th in the 800 (2:27.89).
Lancers softball team
adds another state title
With senior pitcher Courtney Vierstra leading the way, the Lakewood softball team edged Hoban in the state final.
Vierstra, who also was in the circle last year when the Lancers won the state title and in 2015 when they were state runners-up, gave up just four hits and an unearned run while striking out seven against Hoban.
Her performance helped Lakewood finish 32-1 while Hoban finished 24-3.
Senior first baseman Brenna Brownfield provided all the offense the Lancers needed with a two-run home run in the third inning that also scored senior second baseman Alexa Perry, who led off the inning with a triple.
On June 2 in a state semifinal against Jonathan Alder, Lakewood put together a seven-run third inning and won 14-6.
Vierstra had a two-run single and senior right fielder Megan Hitchcock and freshman catcher Tigan Braskie both had RBI singles in the third. Then during a five-run fourth inning, Braskie had a three-run double, junior center fielder Brayanna Wilson had an RBI double and Hitchcock added an RBI single.
Also starting for the Lancers in the state final were senior Courtney Knepper (3B), junior Megan Davis (SS) and sophomore Emily Wallace (LF).