COLUMBUS, Ohio — What better way to end a season than by standing on the podium at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Eastern girls track and field team added four points on the second day of the OHSAA Division III Track and Field Championships at The Ohio State University, bringing the Lady Eagles total to nine points.
The Eastern relay team of Keri Lawrence, Maddie Rigsby, Taylor Palmer and Laura Pullins followed up Friday’s fourth place finish in the 4x800m relay with a a seventh place mark in the 4x400m relay on Saturday. The Lady Eagles marked a time of 4:05.63 in the 4x400m relay, just 9.21 seconds off the pace set by Archbold.
“We knew we had the seventh fastest time going in but we were kind of expecting the worst,” said Palmer. “We knew we had to beat one team and we ended up finishing seventh, so we were all excited just to get another medal.”
The success in the relays was not a surprise to anyone, including 11th year EHS head coach Josh Fogle.
“We knew from the beginning of the year that our 4x800m was going to be really strong,” Fogle said. “About halfway through the year we realized we have a pretty good 4x400m team too and we knew coming in those would be our two strong events. We knew if we could get to the finals of the 4x400m after running the 4x800m then we’d be alright.”
The 4x400m relay was anchored by freshman Laura Pullins, who is defiantly enjoying the success at Jesse Owens Stadium.
“It feels awesome,” said Pullins. “To finish my freshman year on the podium at state is pretty cool. I just run until I can’t go anymore and I guess it’s starting to work because we keep running fast in the 4x400.”
The 4x400m relay marks the end of the season for junior Taylor Palmer and freshman Laura Pullins, but it serves as the end of high school track for seniors Maddie Rigsby and Keri Lawrence, both of whom are signed to run at the University of Rio Grande next season.
“Right before the race all I could think about was how it was going to be my last race in high school and we had to place,” said Rigsby. “We were just thinking that we had to beat one team and we ended up beating two, so it feels pretty nice to get seventh.”
Lawrence was not only a part of history on the 4x800m and 4x400m relay teams this weekend, but she also became the first individual to land on the podium for the Lady Eagles at the state meet.
Keri finished seventh in the 800m run with a time of 2:17.99, just 3.69 seconds off the pace set by Julia Rizk of Columbus Academy.
“It feels really good and I’ve worked really hard for this,” said Lawrence. “I didn’t expect to place in the 800 actually, I usually do hurdles and this is my first time trying out the 800 so I’m proud of it.”
Lawrence is the first three-time All-Ohioan for Eastern’s track and field program.
“It’s crazy to think we’ve been to this level for years and have walked away each year disappointed and empty handed,” Eastern head coach Josh Fogle said. “To look back at what Keri did in the past two days is remarkable, earning three All-Ohio honors could not have happened to a harder working girl. It’s proof that if you work hard and are dedicated to a goal it is achievable. I’m sad to see her go but I’m proud she’s finally got what she’s worked so hard for.”
The Lady Eagles finished with nine points for the meet, placing them tied for 24th with Shroder and Mount Gilead. The girls Division III champion is McDonald, which had 45 points and edged out Tinora and St. Thomas Aquinas by one point. A total of 66 teams scored at least one point in the girls competition.
The boys team competition was won by Lima Central Catholic with 52 points, followed by Gilmour Academy with 42 and Columbus Academy with 39.
Complete results of the 2014 OHSAA Division III Championships can be found on the web at www.ohsaa.org