Nicholas Hall had been waiting four years to reach the awards podium at the Division II state track and field meet.
In his first appearance at state, the Bexley High School senior helped the boys 3,200-meter relay place fifth in 8 minutes, 3.07 seconds to earn all-state honors. As a top-eight relay finisher, Hall, senior Grant Halliday, junior Miles Feinknopf and sophomore Spencer Stevenson all stood together on a single podium step.
That made the experience a little different from what Hall had expected.
"It's awesome (on the podium), but it's tight up there," he said. "You try just not to fall off and you're trying not to throw up when you're up there. Your legs are tight, but you make the most of it."
The four were not the only podium appearance made by the Lions at state, which was held May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State. In the girls meet, junior Nya Harris finished seventh in the shot put with an effort of 39 feet, 7 3/4 inches.
"It felt good to be up there (on the podium) and my hard work did pay off," said Harris, who was the school's first girls thrower to compete at state. "I'll probably wear this (medal) all day and take it off before I go to sleep."
The boys 3,200 relay finished fourth (8:08.79) in the regional meet that concluded May 25 at Lexington. They shaved 5.72 seconds off that time at state.
"We never planned on who was going to be the anchor until a little earlier this week," said Feinknopf, who was the anchor at state. "We never ran in this order all season. We dropped a lot of time throughout the season, dropping more and more as it went along."
Stevenson ran the opening leg and handed off to Hall.
"It's all a matter of perspective because once the (starting) gun goes off there's not a whole lot of thinking," Stevenson said of being nervous during the race. "You just run what you feel and hope you feel it until the end."
Halliday was the group's veteran. As a freshman in 2016, he joined 2016 graduates Robert Myers and Jack Allen and 2017 graduate Peter Hayden on the ninth-place 3,200 relay (8:07.56).
"I think I was much more relaxed this time because I knew a little more about what to expect," Halliday said. "When I first got here, I was a freshman and I wasn't the fastest, but this year I helped us get here. Having been here before and having more speed helped me a lot."
The boys tied for 47th (4 points) at state behind champion Shelby (57) as 76 teams scored, and the girls tied for 63rd (2) behind champion Cincinnati Indian Hill (43) as 70 teams scored.
Harris reached state by winning the regional title with a program-record throw of 40-2.
"(The performance at state) was pretty good, but I could have done better," she said. "I could have pushed a little more. I could have gotten some more push and height on my throws.
"(Throwing coach Carleton McGrady) said he was proud of my performance. I couldn't have done it without him."
Also competing for the girls at state was Claire MacDonald, who finished 15th in the 3,200 (11:58.21). She was the first Bexley freshman to compete at state in an individual girls event since Briana Hinkle qualified in the 100 and 200 in 2003.
"It was great for Claire to get (to state) and get that experience," coach Jamie Hayes said. "We have a lot of young girls coming back and that should make it exciting."
Aside from Feinknopf and Stevenson, the boys expect to return junior Patrick Beck, who was on the 16th-place 800 relay (1:42.66) at regional with seniors Bailey Garside, Reid Wagenbrenner and Ted Schoedinger.
Also expected to return for the girls team are juniors Caroline Bunker, Elisabeth Owen and Lucy Powers and sophomores Hannah Hayden, Samantha Nack, Karleigh Place and Maria Stienke.
"I'm really excited for next year because of the girls that competed at the league, district and regional meets, only one of them is a senior (in thrower Freddie Collins)," Hayes said. "The talent we have coming back already has me making plans. It's exciting."