Four Avon Lake Girls, Two Boys Advance to States
Christine Bohan, Nick Bossard, Pete Lancione, Katie Link, Morgan Srail and Kristen Winkel heading to Columbus.
Kristen Winkel never stopped running after her race. From the podium, she ran straight to the stands where she hugged her mom, and both shed tears.
For Morgan Srail, it was more of the same. After her event, she dashed across the track and jumped into her fathers arms, in exuberance.
Nick Bossard and Pete Lancione hugged each other and gave each other a high five, and were on cloud nine, while Katie Link was smiles from ear to ear after her race.
The reason was simple. On a cool night at Amherst Richard Cooley stadium, each Avon Lake High School athlete punched at ticket to the ultimate prize, a chance for glory at the state track and field championships.
They will be joined by Christine Bohan, who started things off well for Avon Lake on Wednesday when she took home fourth in the girls shot put with her toss of 39-02.75. She was also fifth in the pole vault competition.
Katie Link's efforts, which garnered a huge hug from teammate Srail after her race at midfield, was inspiring. Fitted with a boot all week and suffering from tendinitis, she elected to bypass the 1600-meter run, which she also qualified for regional action in, and run the 3200-meter run, which featured one of the states best runners in Hanna Neczypor.
For the first mile, Neczypor hung with the middle of the pack, and it appeared Link and everyone else had a shot at winning. But after the mile, the Georgetown-bound senior, who holds the state record (10:16.10) ran away from the pack clocking a 10;46.05.
Link took home fourth with an 11:02.30 to punch her ticket to the OHSAA State Championships in Columbus, with just a few seconds separating her from the silver.
"After the race, I was like whoa, it didn't really sink in," Link said. "When you have a girl like (Neczypor) you kind of have to be realistic here, and let her go, and stay with who you can stay with" Link said. " It's nice to dream big, but sometimes there is only so much your body can take. But this is exciting."
Lancione and Bosssard's berth in Columbus was a case of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The thrill being both qualified in the 300 hurdles, with the agony being the fact they each just missed getting out in the 110 high hurdles.
In what was billed as the "hot heat," Lancione came in second, setting a new school record with his 38.47. Bossard ran a 39.8 to take home fourth.
"It was my best race of the year, and it feels great to make it to states," Lancione said. " It's been my goal since my freshman year, and now its really happening its really big. The main goal was state, but getting to state while doing it was an added bonus."
Bossard got there with a great effort down the stretch. After being passed by Brunswick's Cody Smith on the turn, he put his head down and ran the final 100 meters with nothing but heart.
"It's been a dream for four years," Bossard said. "I put my head down and passed Cody from Brunswick. I wasn't sure, I thought I was close, but when I got it I jumped up and down. Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus, that has been the goal."
Kristen Winkel made it a sweep for the Avon Lake hurdlers taking home third in regional action with her 15.10. She actually tied for second, but the tie breaker which was handheld had her clocked a microsecond behind Aisha Potts-Tyre of Whitehorse Wayne.
She too was inspiring as she has been struggling with injuries all season.
It didn't matter. All that did was the fact she was heading south to compete against the states elite, as one of them.
"I came into my preliminary race feeling like there was stones on my feet," Winkel said. "So it really made me nervous heading into finals. I just sucked it up, took the tape off my legs and all the injuries out of my head, and said I have nothing to lose here."
Srail, the runner up in state diving competition this winter, gave her dad a birthday present he will remember, as she took home third place in the pole vault competition with a jump of 11-0. She made all her jumps up to 11-3 to earn her that slot.
"I was just trying to have fun, and wanted to do this for my dad. I didn't want this to be the last high school sport of my senior year," Srail said. "It's amazing that I do this just a few months a year. To be able to excel at it, is a great feeling. I'm really happy."
Francesco Maiorca just missed a trip to state, but the junior standout had nothing to hang his head low, as he ran a personal best 4:21.74 in the 1600 meter run,earning him a trip to the podium in a region many say is tougher than state.
"I went hard and PR'd" Maiorca said. " But It's bittersweet, Yes I got a personal best by a second. But I was really looking forward to qualifying for state. Coming this close to states really hurts. I really wanted it this year. "
Maiorca also earned another medal with the 4x800 relay team (Michael Callesen, Justin Housley, Matt Marron, Maiorca) as they placed eighth on Wednesday.
Housley, just missed out on taking home another medal in the 800 meter run, which nearly saw Revere's Josh Sabo (1:52.08 ) set a state record. Housley was part of 10 runners who broke the 2-minute barrier, something unheard of in regional meet action.