COLUMBUS—Geneva junior Connor Boland turned the final corner on the track at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium and saw nothing but daylight in front of him.
The runners behind him saw nothing but a streak of purple flowing from his dye-colored head as he won the 400-meter dash at the 2022 OHSAA Division I state championships on Saturday.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was mind blown,” Boland said of his reaction to crossing the finish line first. “I don’t even know how to describe what it felt like. It was surreal.”
Boland, who finished the preliminary heats with the third-fastest time of 48.56 seconds, closed out his season with a time of 47.67 in the finals, nearly a full second ahead of state runner-up Logan Doyle of Twinsburg.
“It was super exciting,” he said. “Having competition that was so close and having a bunch of guys that I’ve run against before and just being able to really focus and realize I have an actual chance at the gold medal, I gave everything I had.”
According to Chris Lillstrung of The News-Herald, Boland is Geneva’s first state champion in 110 years and the first in a running event since 1926.
But, it wasn’t snapping a nearly century-long drought that was on Boland’s mind when he settled into the starting blocks.
“My main focus this race and all week, and what we’ve been working on with me and my coaches, was just to get out fast and as hard as I could,” he said. “We worked on my block starts the whole week, so I pretty much just tried to get out as fast as I could and hold it for as long as possible.”
Now, he’ll spend the offseason as a state champion with the hopes of defending that title next spring.
“It’s probably the biggest motivator there is coming in and having to defend a title like this,” he said.
Boland’s was one of four state titles won by Chagrin Valley Conference athletes over the weekend.
Brooklyn’s Jenna Young won the Division II high jump state title on Friday and Beachwood and Hawken both claimed relay titles in Division II on Saturday.