Ari Avant lost her senior season with the Delaware Hayes girls track and field team as a result of spring sports being canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn't mean she hasn't left her mark on the program.
A hurdler and sprinter for the Pacers, Avant was on the cusp of qualifying for the Division I state meet in the 100-meter hurdles last year as a junior, as she placed sixth in 15.06 seconds, two spots shy of a state berth.
She also placed eighth in the 300 hurdles (1:05.01) at regional last year.
As a sophomore, Avant placed fifth in the 100 hurdles (15.33) and seventh in the 300 hurdles (45.27) at regional.
She leaves the Pacers as the program record-holder in the 100 hurdles (14.94), 300 hurdles (45.26) and 60 hurdles (9.32), the latter of which she accomplished at the 2018 state indoor meet when she finished eighth.
Avant summed up her love of the sport with a metaphor she included in an essay, likening track with how people navigate through their lives.
"Track just reminds me a lot about life," she said. "Sometimes you're by yourself and everything, you have your separate events that you don't have people with you, you don't necessarily have a team, but there's always people that have your support behind you and you're always going to have that support system.
"Even though I have to run races by myself and go over hurdles by myself, I always have that support system behind me. That's what I really love about track. It's just an awesome family atmosphere."
According to girls coach Andy Graham, while Avant was an outstanding athlete and contributor for the Pacers, she was an even better person and teammate.
"Ari's impact on the team was immediate," Graham said.
"As a freshman, she broke our hurdle records at Hayes and has broken those records each year since. She has been part of all of our sprint relays.
"But most importantly has been her ability to lead by example and make every single athlete feel important. She knew everyone's name and was always positive with her teammates. Ari will not be replaced. As a leader and competitor, you wanted her on your side. As a person and friend, she was even better."
Avant, who plans to attend Ohio State and major in education, also competed on the girls wrestling team this past winter. She went 15-5 overall at 137 pounds, including going 3-3 and placing sixth at the inaugural girls state tournament.
Avant said placing at state in wrestling was the greatest accomplishment of her prep career.
"I was really proud of myself for placing at state in wrestling," she said. "It was something I picked up, and I had so much fun that entire season and I was so happy that I tried it, and to get that last accomplishment, to not only say that I tried it, but that I was good at it, was really cool."
Avant said her biggest motivation over the course of her athletic career was her teammates and coaches.
"I'm a big people person, and I don't like letting people down," she said. "I've just always kept the burden on my shoulders that I want to do good for my teammates and my coaches and I want to make them proud and get them points and everything like that. So it was a really big thing for me to be a leader on my team, and I just thought if I always tried my best that that would motivate others to try their best."