Injuries or illness can sideline an athlete at any time, so Liza DeVere is happy she decided to fight through such adversity last spring to compete in the Division III state track and field meet at Ohio State.
DeVere was a member of the Grandview Heights girls team's 3,200-meter relay that finished 18th in 10 minutes, 8.87 seconds. She had fought off the flu throughout the week and chose to compete at the last minute, a decision she was glad she made.
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the track season this spring, ending any hopes DeVere had of running another race for the Bobcats.
"I was thinking about it and that (3,200 relay) was the final race I ran in high school," said DeVere, who ran the relay with 2019 graduate Nina Amicon, fellow senior Emma Hall and junior Hannah Yochem. "I hadn't practiced for close to a week because of the flu, and it was truly a last-minute decision to whether or not I would run.
"After missing this season, I'm really glad that I did. You have to realize that every race can be your last. Take that chance, and run whenever you can."
DeVere had been a top performer for the Bobcats in her first three seasons. Last year, she set the high-jump program record of 5 feet, 2 3/4 inches in the season-opening Russ Owen Bexley Relays, breaking the former mark of 5-2 1/2 set by Jennifer Gafford in 1994. Junior Tayler Pierce would surpass that record later in the season with an effort of 5-3 1/2.
DeVere also placed 10th in the 800 (2:29.22) and tied for seventh in the high jump (5-2) in the regional meet.
Last fall, DeVere was the top runner on the cross country team, finishing 25th (20:44.1) in the Division III regional as the top 20 advanced to state.
"I was super-hyped from cross country season, and I was really looking forward to running in the spring," she said. "I was really happy with the (cross country) season and just missed going to state. The team was great and I had a lot of fun. It was by far my best season and my (personal record) was over a minute better than my junior year. I was hoping that would carry over to track."
Track coach Brian Schoch said DeVere's versatility was key to her success.
"Liza plugged away and she just kept getting better," he said. "She had a uniqueness because she was not only the best cross country runner but she also could go 5-2 in the high jump, and that doesn't happen often.
"She has a unique skill set, also pole-vaulting for us as a freshman, being in the long jump as well as running the 100 and 200. She's very versatile. She started as a 400 type (as a freshman) who bumped up to the 800. She handled distance well and still was able to maintain her speed."
DeVere, who will attend Indiana University, knows this was to be her final foray into competitive track.
"I was running the 400, 800 and the (1,600) in track, and I really liked the (3,200) relay," she said. "It was the first race of every meet and I had fun doing it with the other three girls. Nina graduated but Emma and Hannah were back, and we would have been good. I was excited to see how we could have done."