The three biggest stars in the Division I girls state track and field championships June 2 hailed from central Ohio, and a peek at the final team standings offered ample proof.
Madison Martinez won three gold medals as Gahanna — the state runner-up in 2016 and 2017 — scored 51 points to take home the championship trophy from Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Gahanna opened the meet June 1 by winning the 3,200-meter relay in 8 minutes, 53.49 seconds, a state-record time that is the second-fastest in U.S. all-time, and ended it with a fourth straight victory in the 1,600 relay (3:47.99). Shynae Deas, Alexis Thigpen, Allison Groves and Martinez made up the squad.
“We shared the title (with Cincinnati Turpin) in 2015, but this one is all ours,” Lions coach Roger Whittaker said. “We brought 14 girls here and got amazing performances from just about all of them.”
Martinez anchored both relay winners and won the 800 (2:08.89). Unexpected second-place finishes were provided by Faith Hunter in the high jump (5 feet, 8 inches) and Claire Steigerwald (10:29.85) in the 3,200.
“This was my goal from the beginning, to win all of my event and for us to come away with the team championship,” Martinez said.
Single-handedly pulling her team to a share of the runner-up trophy was Hope Purcell of Lancaster. The Indiana signee won the high jump (5-9) and long jump (19-5) and added a third in the 100 hurdles (13.97) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (44.11) for 31 points.
“I threw up a big PR in the long jump and also had one in the high jump,” Purcell said. “It’s been a long weekend, but well worth it.”
The athlete most fans left the stadium talking about, however, was Dublin Coffman senior Abby Steiner.
Steiner lowered her own day-old state record in the 100 from 11.47 seconds to 11.38. The highlight of the day, however, came in the 200 when she lowered her mark of 23.17 to 22.73. That time ranks No. 2 in the nation this spring and is No. 7 all-time.
“I got an explosive start in both races, and that made it all possible,” Steiner said. “Honestly, coming in I wanted to run in the high 11.3 to low 11.4 range. I thought maybe 22.9 was possible in the 200. I like broke down when I saw the scoreboard. That just floored me. This was my last day of high school track, and it couldn’t have gone any better.”
Steiner, who will compete in track and soccer at Kentucky, capped her career with four titles in the 200, three in the 100 and nine overall.
Her performance helped Coffman to fourth place.More videos
•Dublin Coffman’s Abby Steiner wins 100 meters
•Steiner wins 200
Other area big-school champions were Jaydan Wood of Pickerington Central in the 400 (54.18) and Siobhan Szerencsits of Olentangy in the pole vault (13-3).
“I’ve dreamed of winning a state title since I first took up track when I was 6 years old,” Wood said.
For the second straight weekend, Szerencsits made three attempts at the state record.
“Between last week and this week, I kept asking myself if you could do this again,” she said, of her 13-5 effort at the regional. “I didn’t want to be a one-week wonder. Today’s round wasn’t as strong as last week’s. I needed third attempts to make 13 feet and 13-3. But the state championship sure makes up for that.”
Although she wasn’t able to defend the 100 title she won as a freshman, Makiya Montgomery was all smiles after taking second in both the Division II 100 (11.93) and 200 (24.22). Mia Knight of Beechwood won both races.
“She pushed me to do my best and get PRs in both races, and that’s what’s most important to me,” Montgomery said. “I made a big improvement in the 200 this year and my coach has been telling me all along that’s my best event. He may be right.”
The only area state champion in Division III was Olivia Carpenter of Northridge in the 300 hurdles (44.16). She took third in the event as a junior.
“I have a tendency to run out of gas and slow down on the final curve, but I tried my hardest to power through it today,” Carpenter said. “I knew who my toughest competitor was (Carly Jacobs of Sugarcreek Garaway) and I just refused to let her catch me.”