Kirtland’s girls’ track team turned in a record-breaking performance at the Division III Regional track meet at Navarre High School on Friday.
The Hornets broke four school records and qualified eight athletes in five different events for next weekend’s state track meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
“What an amazing night,” said Kirtland coach JP Moran. “We have too many people to take our school van so we’re taking a bus to state. You always make jokes about that, ‘Hey, let’s fill a bus to state.’ To actually do it and on one Friday night to break four school records, it was just rolling. Everything was awesome.”
Not everything went well for the Hornets, who finished tied with Norwayne for second place with 46 points. St. Thomas Aquinas won the regional with 73 points.
“The worst part of the night is when we tied for second and they only had one trophy,” Moran said. “We flipped a coin and Norwayne got to take it home.”
Kirtland will eventually get its second place trophy but the Hornets are more concerned with a much bigger prize. They hope to top their ninth place finish at the 1987 state meet.
They’ll have plenty of opportunities with athletes competing in five events.
Senior Katie Straus finished second in the 100-meter hurdles, third in the 300 hurdles and she won the high jump. She also ran a leg in the 4×400-meter relay which finished second.
Kirtland’s 4×200-meter relay team also finished second to earn a spot in Columbus.
Straus ran the 100 hurdles in a school record 14.52 seconds to finish .16 seconds behind race winner Kylie Cutlip of Buckeye Trail and just ahead of defending 100 and 300-meter hurdles state champion Maddy McDermott of Rittman. Straus just missed her own school record in the 300 hurdles with a 44.75-second time.
“As a whole I'm happy with us as a team,” Straus said. “We performed really well, and we're all excited with how it went and to continue on. I was excited to race the other girls, knowing that they'd push me to be faster. And the 4×400 was just phenomenal; I still think we can be even faster. As a whole it was a good day for the team.”
Straus teamed up with sophomore Danielle Bryll, junior Grace Powers and senior Julia Ricketti to smash the school record in the 4×400-meter relay.
The team finished in 4:00.42 to finish second.
“Going into the 4×4 we were sitting in third place in the meet as a team,” Moran said. “We were down by eight points and Norwayne didn’t have anyone in the 4×4 so we knew if we got second we would tie for second.”
That relay team had been chasing the school record all season before breaking it last week to qualify for regionals. They broke it again to earn the second place tie.
“We talked about all the little things and at the end of the day you’re going to be in a race,” Moran said. “There was awesome competition out there and our girls answered that. They couldn’t have done a better job.”
From Ricketti taking the proper angle to cut off a runner trying to pass to Powers surging around her final turn, the Hornets ran a nearly perfect race.
“Grace and Katie both ran 57 (second) splits and Danielle started us with a 62, faster than she has ever run,” Moran said. “Julia was in the 62s, faster than she has ever run. Grace’s last turn was unbelievable.”
Powers and Ricketti teamed up with senior Emily Kadas and sophomore Kristi Bryll to finish second in the 4×200-meter relay with a school record time of 1:46.13.
“That 4×2 relay was just the catalyst,” Moran said. “The school record was 1:47.1 and we ran a 1:47.99 to get in there. I thought we could break it and the girls ran awesome. Grace Powers took the anchor. She was in fourth and then she just turned it on and ends up second. That’s a crazy time. That shattered the school record by a full second. They all ran incredible legs and Grace’s anchor got us all fired up.”
Kirtland’s 4×100-meter relay team of Kadas, Ricketti, Powers and senior Maddie Zuberer missed the cut for state but the team finished sixth with a school record time of 51.56 seconds.
“That was rough for us but we got sixth and re-broke the school record we broke last week that stood from 1985,” Moran said. “The girls ran their hearts out there were just fast teams in that field. We really wanted to get that relay out but we ran faster than we ever did and broke our own school record.”
Kirtland’s 4×800-meter relay team finished sixth with a time of 10:08.6.
That group consisted of Powers, seniors Lauren Covetta and Christine Walsh and sophomore Sydney Snyder.
Walsh, who will run cross country and track at St. Bonaventure University, was thrilled with ending her high school career as a regional runner-up.
“I could not be happier than being regional runner-ups in the last season, especially with one of the fastest groups in Kirtland history,” she said. “We have all worked so hard and finished sixth place or higher in almost every event, it's crazy. This is the furthest any team I've ever been on has gone and every single one of us deserved it. It's absolutely unbelievable and I'm so grateful for the pain of every race. It was really worth it.”
Covetta was just happy to be back on the track after having hip surgery in August 2015.
“I went in with a fractured femoral neck, strained hip flexor, and torn labrum, so I was in intense therapy and rehab for six months leading into March to get ready for the track season,” Covetta said. “As a senior, especially after recovering from a hip surgery, this is something I have focused my energy towards contributing to for quite some time now. Placing second at the regional championship is really a testament to the work that the entire Kirtland girls team puts in on and off the track. The most rewarding thing for me personally is not only watching the younger athletes develop, but also developing alongside the incredible group of seniors that we have leading the team this year. We're so thrilled to have made such a strong presence in Navarre this week and can't wait to do the same in Columbus.”
Snyder also finished ninth in the 800 with a time of 2:27.78.