Monday, June 4th, 2012
Celina's Fleck, Coldwater's Kanney and Minster relay crowned champs
State Track and Field Championships
By Bruce Monnin
Celina's Hannah Fleck won the Division II state championship in the 800 meters o. . .
COLUMBUS - The Grand Lake area earned three state championships in the running finals of the state track meet on Saturday at Jessie Owens Stadium in Columbus.
Minster's boys repeated as state champions in the 1,600-meter relay in Division III, Coldwater's Sarah Kanney won the 1,600 meters in Division II and Celina's Hannah Fleck earned the D-II state title in the 800 meters.
Division II Girls' 800 meters - Hannah Fleck
Throughout her career, Fleck had been steadily marching up the standings in the 800 meters at the state track meet.
As a freshman Fleck finished 10th in 2009 and then improved to a third-place finish in 2010. Last year, she came as close as possible to the top of the podium without getting there by posting a second-place finish. With those previous results, there could be no other goal this year other than a state championship.
Fleck started with a measured pace, crossing the halfway point of the race in fifth place. She moved into fourth immediately after starting her second lap and then passed her main rival, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's Tessa Weigand, for third place as she entered the backstretch.
Fleck then made the passes to take the lead as she came out of the final corner to start the homestretch. Weigand was still coming hard, but Fleck would not be denied as she won with a time of 2:12.17, over a second ahead of Weigand.
"I'm so excited," said a happy Fleck after the race. "I've worked the last four years for this and I've overcome some obstacles to get here."
Fleck's time was also a new school record, breaking the old mark she had set at last year's state meet.
"I knew it was my last high school race so there was no holding back," said the future Kent State student.
The win was the top moment of a great weekend for Fleck, who reached the podium in four events.
Division II Girls' 1600 Meter Run - Sarah Kanney
Coldwater's freshman Sarah Kanney became just the third Cavaliers' girl to win an individual state title. The other two state titles came from Becky Mueller and Karla Klosterman, who won the 100-meter hurdles and 800 meters, respectively, in 1996.
Kanney started quickly, and by the end of the first lap, was leading two other runners away from the rest of the field.
"I usually want to start out fast," explained Kanney about her strategy.
By the end of her second lap Kanney had a four-second lead. Fans hoping for a close race with a dramatic finish were disappointed by the end of the third lap as Kanney expanded her lead to six seconds. Kettering Alter's Olivia Albers tried to make a run at Kanney during the final lap but she could only trim her deficit to four seconds.
Kanney crossed the line in a time of 5:00.97, over three seconds better than her performance at last week's regional meet. Time did not seem to be Kanney's biggest concern, however, as she slowed a few steps before the finish line to enjoy her state championship.
"It feels really good to end your season on a great note like this," reflected Kanney after her opportunity to stand on the top step of the podium. "It was odd for me today. I wasn't very nervous. I just really wanted to get first."
Division III Boys' 4x400 Meter Relay - Minster
Minster's boys' 1,600-meter relay team won the 2011 state championship and it was somewhat of a surprise result.
Three of the four members of that team, junior Troy Kaufman, junior Korey Schultz and senior Derek Collins returned along with sophomore Paul Dues as a favorite to become the first back-to-back champions in the history of Minster boys' track.
Sometimes, a race can be over before it even starts. Each week, before the start of this race, Minster's lead-off man Kauffman will walk toward the line and make a comment on how well the team will do this race. Saturday, he did not appear to notice anyone else was around as he approached the starting blocks.
Kauffman ran the initial leg and it appeared as though it was best for the health of all concerned that no one got in his way. He made up the stagger on the team in the next lane and ended his leg near second place.
"I pride myself on making up the stagger," explained Kauffman after the race.
Kauffman had no doubt how the race was going to end.
"These four guys were going to get it done today," said Kauffman.
Dues took the handoff for the second leg and was in second place after the initial corner. He found himself behind the team from Cuyahoga Heights (the school the Minster baseball team defeated later in the day for the state title), who were not expected to be an overall threat.
As Schultz took the baton, it was looking like a two-team race. Schultz closed the gap to the leader and then held there for a short bit before making the pass in the final corner and finished his leg in the lead, well ahead of the rapidly closing team from Gahanna Columbus Academy.
For the second year in a row, Collins took the baton with the lead and never gave it up. This year his team had provided him with a much larger cushion. Instead of starting conservatively to make sure he had strength left at the end, he poured on the speed from the start.
"I run this race on pure adrenaline," explained Collins as to his quick start.
Gahanna Columbus Academy continued to close the gap but Collins still crossed the line with a time of 3:21.30, over two and a half seconds in the lead.
"We were able to win this race twice," said Schultz with a sense of awe. "Think about how few people get that opportunity."