BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — Five Anthony Wayne athletes and one from Maumee have qualified for the state track meet.
Four AW girls qualified in Division I, including senior Karen Flory (300-meter hurdles), junior Alex Denman (high jump), junior Ana Karmol (1600) and sophomore Mallori Pollock (100).
Karmol won the 1600 regional championship in a strong rain and wind on a cold Friday afternoon in Amherst, Ohio.
Senior Aiden Green will compete in four seated events, the 100, 400, 800 and shot put, and Maumee junior Eric Board qualified in the Division II 1600.
“We are excited to have Ali, Mallori, Karen and Ana competing this coming weekend at the state track and field championship, along with seated athlete Aiden Green, who qualified for the state meet on the strength of his times throughout the season,” said AW coach Kevin O’Connor.
“We believe in all of these athletes. They all earned their way to this level of competition and they will represent themselves and Anthony Wayne well at the state meet.”
Board finished third in the D-II regional meet in Lexington, crossing the finish line in 4:25.58, less than two seconds behind regional champion Luke Nester (4:23.7), a Columbus Academy senior.
In a nip-and-tuck race, Columbus Watterson senior Will Garey edged Board for second, finishing in 4:25.06.
The D-I meet took place in heavy rain on May 26, with Denman getting off to a good start.
O’Connor said Denman “continued her season of improvement” and had a personal best jump of 5 feet, 2 inches to take fourth, just good enough to qualify for state.
“Her fourth-place finish was not without drama as she originally tied for fourth and had to win a jump-off, which she did, to take fourth and move on,” O’Connor said.
“Jenna Rybicki, who, as NLL and district champ, was the best jumper in the area all spring, just never found her footing in the rain and frustratingly finished out of the qualifying group of four,” O’Connor continued.
“We are happy for Ali and confident that Jenna will bounce back next spring.”
Also last week, AW’s Reese Neumeyer ran her way into Friday’s finals in the 100 hurdles.
Pollock and Flory did the same in the 100 dash and 300 hurdles, respectively, but the relay teams failed to advance.
“Our 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 teams never really hit their stride on Wednesday and did not move on to the finals on Friday,” O’Connor said.
As far as the weather for the finals two days later, little changed.
“On Friday, like the rest of northern Ohio, Amherst saw strong winds and torrential rain, which caused the field events scheduled for Friday to be postponed until Sunday,” O’Connor said.
The track events rolled on as scheduled in the wind and rain on Friday, however.
“Reese Neumeyer ran well but against tough competition in a strong wind and finished seventh,” O’Connor said.
“Reese had a remarkable senior year in hurdles, winning the league and district championships in the 100-meter hurdles.”
In the 100 dash, O’Connor said Pollock “used a strong finish in the last 30 meters to finish fourth and advance to state.
Pollock finished in 12.87, just one-fifth of a second behind regional champion Neveah Lewis, a Mansfield Madison freshman who ran a 12.67.
On Friday, AW distance runners Ana Karmol and Hailey Kahl took their turns trying to advance in the 1600 and 800 runs in the wind and rain.
“In the 1600, after two laps, Ana took control of what was turning into a tactical race and led the last 800 to run away for the win and become the regional champ,” O’Connor said.
Karmol finished in 5:10.32, beating second-place Lexington senior Joanna Halfhill (5:12.61) by more than two seconds.
“Ana works hard every day and it has paid off this spring as she has won the 1600-meter title in the NLL, district and now region,” O’Connor said.
“Hailey ran well to finish 11th. Just qualifying for the regional meet is a success, though, especially for a freshman, and puts you among the best in the state.
“And then in the 300-meter hurdles, Karen Flory took fourth in a race where the top four ran together the whole way and finished bunched together in one of the tighter finishes of the night.”
Flory ran the 300 hurdles in 47.78, just over a quarter of a second behind champion Jordyn Wickes, a Brunswick senior who crossed in 47.53.
On Sunday, Sophia Schneider and Neumeyer competed in the delayed pole vault competition with Schneider finishing 13th and Neumeyer 11th.
The D-I state meet will be held at Hilliard Darby High School, while the D-II meet will be at Pickerington North High School on Friday and Saturday, June 4-5.