Despite battling a virus throughout the week, Grove City Christian School junior Calista Manns turned in strong performances in the Division III regional girls track and field meet to earn a return trip to state.
Manns finished third in the 100 meters (12.56 seconds) and 100 hurdles (14.49) and sixth in the 300 hurdles (46.76) to advance in all three. The state meet is Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
For the first time, two at-large berths were awarded in each running event for the top two times in the state outside of the top four finishers in each region. Manns' effort in the 300 hurdles earned her an at-large berth.
She also was ninth in the high jump (5 feet) at regional, which was held May 23 and 25 at Fairfield Union.
"Calista had been battling a virus all week and she had been really sick," coach Mindy Bankey said. "Her energy level was pretty weak. I knew she's fierce and I knew she was going to go out with all of her best, but she was struggling. We had good results."
Manns will compete in her third state meet. Last season, she finished second in the 100 hurdles (14.7) and seventh in the 100 (12.72) and 300 hurdles (46.12). As a freshman, she was fifth in the 100 hurdles (15.37).
"Calista is a pro," Bankey said. "She's excited. She knew she wasn't at her top capacity (May 25), so I know she's going to be out and fierce and ready to prove something (June 1)."
Manns will be joined at state by sophomore Morgan Iverson, who will be competing there for the second time after finishing fourth at regional in the pole vault. Her height of 10-3 topped her previous program record of 9-9.
"I knew I had it in me, but I was just waiting for it to come out," Iverson said. "I have the confidence in my vaults to know what I can do. I've done it in practice. It just hadn't shown up yet in a meet, so I went in with a clear head saying, 'you do what you have to do to get to state.'"
Last season at state, Iverson did not clear the opening of height of 9-6 on all three attempts.
"I'm very excited," she said. "I'm excited to do a lot better than I did last year. I definitely put the disappointment behind me, but I wanted to get back and do what I know how to do. I know I'm a better vaulter than what I did last year and I just want to prove that to myself that I can do it."
Iverson credits her pole vault coach, her father Scott Iverson, for her improvement.
"My pole vault coach went to a different school this year, so at the beginning of the year I was freaking out," Iverson said. "I didn't know what I was going to do. My dad really stepped up. He's done amazing. I can't thank him enough."
Scott Iverson replaced Bryan Cook, who stepped after last season. Cook also shared head-coaching duties with Bankey.
Morgan Iverson also credits working with Austin Hicks of Buckeye Pole Vault Academy in Lewis Center and using a longer and heavier pole.
"We had a lot of ups and downs this year with Morgan," Bankey said. "The weather didn't help because there were so many meets where we didn't have pole vault because of the weather. Her practice times were difficult at best. We were up and down between poles, but she came in with the right attitude."
Senior Dalina Phomphengchane competed in her first regional and finished 13th in the 100 (13.62).
"Dalina getting there was fantastic," Bankey said. "She had a really good season, and for her to be able to get to regional was definitely awesome."
The Eagles finished 10th (20 points) behind champion Mount Gilead (62) as 50 teams scored.
Junior Brett Baker was the boys team's only regional qualifier, but he could not compete in the pole vault after suffering a hamstring injury during warmups, according to Bankey.
"I really believe Brett would have been at state," Bankey said. "He kept getting better each week. He was feeling strong."
Worthington Christian finished first (70) as 35 teams scored.