BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
PICKERINGTON — It was another successful showing for the Oak Harbor girls track team at the state tournament, but the team experienced some tough luck in the process.
The Rockets, who finished 23rd in Division II with nine points, got a third-place finish from Amelia Mizelle in the 100 meter hurdles (15.32 seconds) and the 4×200 relay team of Rylee McKitrick, Emily Haar, Paige Clune and Elayna Krupp took sixth in 1:45.29. Mizelle also placed 12th in the 300 hurdles in 48.10 and Krupp was 12th in the 100 in 12.79.
“Amelia had a great season, so you hope it carries all the way to state. It was nice to see her put it together and have that final day. She is just the second 100 hurdler in my 24 years of coaching to place at state.
“The 4×200 did a nice job, that was a promising relay, and they made the podium,” said Oak Harbor coach John McKitrick. “Sometimes, state is about what you don’t get. There were some disappointments, and those hurt. It’s always nice when you get a relay to place. There’s a lot of great talent in the state of Ohio.”
The 4×400 relay team of Krupp, Haar, Logan Wagner and Abby Below was wrongly disqualified in their heat when a girl from Woodridge High School ran into Krupp, who had put the Rockets into the lead before handing off the baton for the final leg.
“The runner from the other team ran into our runner. You’re supposed to veer off the track without hitting anybody or stay in your lane. Elayna crossed the finish line in lane two, and she stayed in her lane,” McKitrick said. “Elayna turns around to see if the lane is clear. Elayna never left her lane, the girl ran right into her.
“I know it sounds like sour grapes, but sometimes you have tough stories. Sometimes these things prepare you better for life. At the same time, it’s unfortunate for them. I think this was a lesson we were trying to avoid.”
McKitrick went into greater detail and explained what happened.
“You’ve got to be careful, things are open to interpretation from the umpires, and the way the umpires saw the exchange go down, it’s unfortunate. It was an official error, the video showed what went down.
“I had three seniors on that relay, and you don’t get that back, it’s not like you get another chance,” he said. “That relay would’ve contested for the top three spots in the state. We’ve been kicked hard before — three years ago and two of those girls, Elayna and Abby, were probably going to end up second or third place at state (in a relay), and we finished eighth.”
That relay, we just want a chance to compete in the finals, it’s too bad that it was stripped away by an official. He said there was interference, but the video showed that it didn’t occur. Even though the officials can’t look at the video, what’s nice is that my athlete doesn’t have to go the rest of her life thinking she made a mistake.
On the boys side, Oak Harbor scored two points and finished 66th in Div. II.
Isiah Miller was seventh in the 300 hurdles in 40.25 and Eli Sherman just missed out on placing by finishing 10th in the 800 in 1:58.03. The 4×100 relay quartet of Miller, Nick Wirkner, Hayden Buhro and Gannon Duty finished 13th in 43.88 and the 4×200 relay team of Buhro, Isiah Miller, Owen Miller and Hayden Hower also came in 13th, finishing in 1:31.37.
“Isiah Miller is such a team player,” said Oak Harbor Coach Andy Augsburger. “In all respects, he could’ve been a qualifier in the 100, 200 and 110 hurdles. He was there for the relays in the 4×100 and 4×200, and he had one open event in the 300 hurdles. To see him place in an individual event was amazing. I’m so proud of him.”
Augsburger had high praise for Sherman and his two relay teams as well.
“Having qualified for the 4×100 for the fourth year in a row was a huge accomplishment. I’m very proud of our two seniors on that relay, and a junior and the sophomore. There’s some tough competition at the state meet,” Augsburger said. “The 4×200, we were very happy that we had the relay represent Oak Harbor at the state meet. We’ve had about nine different runners in that relay, and all the coaching staff is really proud of them. It shows that the kids are doing an excellent job of gaining the techniques, and it shows the depth of the program and what we have.
“A lot of kids have done an excellent job that are sophomores and juniors, they got to compete at the highest level. Eli Sherman did an excellent job. It was a gutsy performance. The last 200 meters he was in third place, and it looked like he was going to be a state placer, but the crowd of runners descended on him. He did his best and fought and finished 10th. That’s what he’s done his whole career. I hope other runners see that and it rubs off on them. It was fun watching him compete.”
It was another successful season for the Rockets, who won a league title for the third time in six years. Oak Harbor also finished second in its district. The 11 seniors — Wirkner, Sherman, Duty, Egan Bolander, Ian Cantu, Blake Dewitz, Alex Mettie, Devin Gordon, Wyatt Miller, Max Hallett-Szymanski and Brady Walleman — have meant a great deal to the program, winning two Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division titles and having a good showing in the postseason.