Strong headwinds and tired legs meant Jemeila Hunter did not get the 100- and 200-meter times for which she hoped during the Division I state track and field meet that concluded June 1 at Ohio State.
Nonetheless, the Pickerington High School North senior was thrilled to stand on the podium three times, twice for her individual efforts and again with the 800 relay.
Hunter, a Bowling Green recruit, finished sixth in both the 100 (12.31 seconds) and 200 (24.79) and helped the 800 relay place seventh (1:42.38) with senior Celeste Pierce and sophomores Mayson Bates and Amara Okpalaoka.
"Of course, I wanted to place higher (in my individual events), but I was blessed to be up (on the podium) at all. I can't be mad about being one of the top runners in the entire state," Hunter said. "My legs were tired from the (preliminaries on May 31) and I just don't think I ran my best. I did OK considering we were running into a headwind. I just wanted to do a little bit better.
"The goal all season was to place at state, and I was thrilled to do that."
Hunter, who was .01 of a second shy of fifth place in the 100 and .02 of a second from fifth in the 200, was making her second appearance at state but first in an individual event.
She and Pierce were on the Panthers' fourth-place 400 relay and sixth-place 800 relay last year with 2018 graduate Lexi Walker and Alicia Donley, who graduated early in January to enroll at Tennessee, where she will play soccer.
Bates and Okpalaoka were making their first appearances at state.
"(Our relay) really expected to get here," Hunter said. "We'd definitely hoped to do better. We all had other things going on this weekend, but overall, we were happy with our time and our place. We worked together really well."
Also at state, Bates was 13th in the 100 hurdles (15.25), the 400 relay of Bates, Hunter, Okpalaoka and Pierce finished 15th (49.54) and Okpalaoka competed in the long jump but fouled on all three of her attempts.
North scored eight points to tie Canal Winchester, Carrollton, Centerville, Mayfield, Medina Highland and Reynoldsburg for 24th behind champion Liberty Township Lakota East (65) as 68 teams scored.
Other athletes eligible to return include juniors Brianna Bowden (distance), Emily Harness (distance), Elizabeth Martin (hurdles, pole vault) and Aniyah Rucker (sprints), sophomore Serenity Mason (sprints) and freshmen Ellie Riekert (hurdles) and Ayress Waugh (throws).
Duvall leads boys team at state meet
Junior Matt Duvall of the boys team finished third in the 3,200 (9:16.32) and helped the 3,200 relay place sixth (7:52.2) with senior Jake Prestileo, junior Harper Moore and sophomore Steven McElroy.
Duvall improved by four places in the 3,200 from last year at state, and he and Moore also were on the 3,200 relay that placed sixth a year ago.
"We're pretty excited. Coming in, we were ranked 13th overall, so we just kind of came in with the mentality that we know we can stick with these teams," Prestileo said. "Everybody's times were pretty close coming in so we knew it was going to be a dogfight, but if we did what we needed to do, we'd end up in sixth place, so we're extremely happy with how it went. Harper Moore had a phenomenal start, then Matt Duvall put us in second place and gave me the chance and (we) ended with Steven McElroy (who) did what he needed to do."
Also at state, Moore finished ninth in the 1,600 (4:18.1), one place lower than a year ago.
North scored nine points to tie Strongsville for 27th behind champion Pickerington Central (87) as 78 teams scored.
Several other top contributors are eligible to return, including juniors Enrique Cabotage (sprints), Chris Scott (sprints) and Zhane Wallace (jumps, sprints) and sophomore Zemen Siyoum (hurdles, sprints).