COLUMBUS, Ohio — Before a thunderstorm rolled into the Ohio State University campus on Saturday, it was Meigs freshman Kassidy Betzing taking — part of anyway — the state track and field meet by storm.
And, do look beyond Betzing’s self-described disappointment.
“I wanted a better performance to be honest, but getting here was pretty cool,” said Betzing. “I was very, very nervous. But once I got on the runway, I was okay.”
Her effort was more than just okay.
In fact, considering it was her first of four possible state meets, it was really good.
That’s because Betzing, the only freshman in the field for the Division II girls long jump, placed seventh in that event inside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
Betzing’s best jump was 17-feet, two and three-fourths inches, which she scored in her third and final preliminary jump to not only advance to the finals, but also eventually land on the all-Ohio awards podium.
She also overcame three fouls, including her opening prelim jump and her first two jumps in the finals.
Besides her podium-clinching 17-2 3/4, Betzing jumped 16-feet, six and one-fourth inches on her second prelim jump, followed by her final finals jump of 16-9 1/2.
Each of the 16 state jumpers had three preliminary jumps, with the top nine qualifying for the finals for a maximum of six tries.
And, of those six attempts, the greatest distance is scored for that individual’s final result.
The top eight placers in each event at the state meet earn a spot on the awards podium —and automatic all-Ohio honors in the process.
The Southeast District champion and regional runner-up with a personal-best 17-feet, 10 and one-quarter inches, Betzing believed she should’ve done better on Saturday.
“I was definitely hoping for at least a better jump in the finals, so that was disappointing. The third jump got me to finals, even though it wasn’t my best jump. Everyone was pretty proud of it I guess,” said Betzing.
She guessed correct, as she had a nice contingent of support clad in Meigs Maroon and Gold.
“It’s (competing at state meet) always exciting to do and it’s something we don’t get to see every year. It’s once about every three, four or five years we get somebody up here (to state meet). And to see a young lady like Kassidy, a freshman, do so well and get seventh-place and stand up on that podium is really exciting,” said Meigs track and field coach Mike Kennedy. “We look forward to hopefully three more years of this.”
Betzing beat out nine other competitors, including eighth-place Emily Barney of Oak Harbor, whom she edged by exactly half an inch.
In fact, Barney’s only jump that counted was her first jump of the three-jump prelims, as she fouled on her final five.
Betzing was the second jumper of all 16, and needed the 17-2 3/4 to qualify for the finals.
Kennedy said the freshman focused in after fouling on her initial attempt.
“I know she was upset about the fouls, but I was very impressed with her keeping her head together in the preliminary jumps after that first foul. Every time she fouled, she was over by just a smidgen. It was really close,” said the coach. “She was really consistent today. She just needs a little more confidence going through the next three years. But she is a great jumper. It’s gotta be hard to keep your focus, but I thought she did a really nice job.”
The ninth-place jumper was Halie Sciury of Sandy Valley, who was an inch-and-a-half (17-1 1/4) shy of Betzing for that seventh-place spot.
In the finals, Sciury, Barney and Betzing jumped as the first three in that order — and all three fouled on their first two leaps.
Sciury scored a 16-feet, eight-inch jump on her final try, which clinched at least a podium spot for Betzing.
Then, when Barney fouled for the fifth and final time, Betzing was assured no worse than seventh — as she jumped 16-feet, nine and one-half inches on her last jump.
Betzing had entered the competition with the fourth-best jump from the four regional meets, as junior Jamari McDavid of Springfield Kenton Ridge was only three-fourths of an inch shy of hitting 19-feet.
The next-closest coming in was sophomore Katelyn Meyer of Pemberville Eastwood, followed by the Region 7 champion Elise Watts of Steubenville at 18-1.
Watts was sixth in 17-5 1/4, while Meyer was third at exactly six inches longer (17-11 1/4).
McDavid and Ellie Ruby of Wheelersburg were tied at 18-feet and one-and-a-half inches, but Ruby’s second-best jump was exactly 18-feet for the championship tiebreaker.
That’s a distance Betzing believes she can reach.
“I definitely want to place better and I think jumping 18-feet is in the range I can definitely do. If I get a good jump, I can place really well,” she said.
But, for her first time on the biggest stage in the state on Saturday — with three years remaining — standing seventh on the podium isn’t bad at all.
“It’s a great experience and actually pretty exciting. First year here. Hopefully three more,” said Betzing.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106