Kirtland senior Katie Straus is headed to the state track meet in the high jump for the first time after several near misses.
Straus cleared 5-feet, 4-inches to win the event during the first day of the 2016 Navarre Division III regional meet on Wednesday. As a freshman, she finished fifth at the Division II Austintown-Fitch regional. Only the top four advanced to state. She was 11th at Austintown last year.
“It feels great to finally get out of regionals in high jump, since this is my fourth time coming,” Straus said. “It feels even better getting out in first with a jump of 5-4. I had a feeling this year would click for high jump.”
The Kirtland standout isn’t done yet.
She qualified for Friday’s finals in the 100 and 300-hurdles and also ran the anchor leg in the 4×400-meter relay that advanced to the finals with a second place finish in 4:04.32.
Straus, sophomore Danielle Bryll, senior Julia Ricketti and junior Grace Powers broke the previous school record of 4:06.99 set in 1987.
“It feels good to finally get that record, for myself and for the other girls on the relay,” Straus said. “I hope we can lower it again.”
Last season, Straus finished sixth in the Division II state meet in the 100 hurdles and ninth in the 300 hurdles. This season, she’s competing in those events against the defending Division III state champion, Maddy McDermott, a senior from Rittman, and Buckeye Trail standout Kylie Cutlip, a sophomore.
She finished third in the 100 hurdles preliminary race behind Cutlip and McDermott and second in the 300 hurdles preliminary race behind Cutlip, who set a new regional and state record.
Straus ran the 100 hurdles in 15.06 seconds, 1/10 of a second behind McDermott, and the 300 hurdles in 45.47 seconds.
“I knew the races were going to be tough,” Strauss said. “I actually recognized Cutlip from some indoor meets earlier this year. I was getting worried trying to figure out how to run them, because I wanted to get to finals but I didn't want to wear myself out, which was bad. I should've just resolved to run how I always do. However, I'm excited for finals on Friday, and feel more mentally prepared to just race and put everything into the races.”
Kirtland advanced two other relays to Friday’s finals.
Ricketti, Powers and senior Emily Kadas and sophomore Kristi Bryll finished fifth in the 4×200-meter preliminary race with a time of 1:47.99 and Kadas, Ricketti, Powers and senior Maddie Zuberer ran the 4×100-meter relay in 51.78 seconds to finish sixth.
Kirtland’s 4×8 team of Powers, seniors Lauren Covetta and Christine Walsh and sophomore Sydney Snyder finished sixth with a time of 10:08.60 and Independence was 13th in 10:46.44. Juniors Maria Sagi, Lauren Taras and Dana Zaccardelli teamed up with freshman Emma Wensink in that event.
Zuberer also finished 14th in the 300 hurdles with a time of 17.13 seconds and senior Peter Gabor finished 12th in the 400-meter dash in a time of 52.78.
Cardinal junior Erin Ross also qualified for the Friday’s finals in the 300 hurdles with a seventh place finish in a time of 48.12 seconds. She was 13th in the 100 hurdles (17.07).
“It was really hot today and I was a little nervous before I ran,” Ross said. “Overall, I'm really satisfied with my performance. It wasn't a PR, but it was what I needed to get to finals. I'm extremely excited to have made it further than I did last year. That was my main goal today. I'm ready to see what I can run on Friday, but as of right now I am very happy and thankful to have accomplished what I have.”
Cardinal senior Nate Peters finished 14th in the discus (129-07) and the Huskies earned an 11th place finish in the girls 4×200-meter relay. Ross and sophomore Ally Almy, senior Caitlyn Lechene and junior Trisha Cesar ran that race in 1:53.15.
The Huskies also got a ninth place finish out of its 4×800-meter relay team with a time of 10:31.42. Sophomores Megan Maddox and Paige Webb, freshman Camille Cummins and senior Emily Kruse finished that race in a season-best 10:31.42.
Maddox, Kruse, Ross and Lechene teamed up to run the 4×400-meter relay in a season-best 4:17.23, good for ninth place.
Independence junior Jared McCullough qualified for Friday’s finals in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes.
He was third in the 100 with a time of 11.15 seconds and third in the 200 with a time of 22.72, just 2/10 of a second behind the first place finisher.
“It feels amazing,” McCullough said of reaching the finals in his first year of track. “I never thought I would get this far. I can't wait for Friday.”
McCullough has gotten better as the season progressed and seems to thrive on the competition.
“I feel I had a stronger 100 this time because of better competition,” he said. “In the 200, with also better competition, I feel I didn't start off strong enough but luckily I made my way back into the race in the end.”
Independence junior Ben Artrip finished fifth in the discus with a throw of 146-feet, 9-inches. Only the top four advanced to state.
“I'm disappointed to be one place out, especially knowing the two throws I fouled probably would have made it out,” Artrip said. “There's nothing I can do now except focus on high jump and try again next year.”
Independence’s boys’ 4×800-meter relay team of juniors Jesse Belitz, Kevin Clymer and Tyler Polman and sophomore Ryan Zygmunt was ninth with a time of 8:37.15. Zygmunt and McCullough teamed up with senior Nick Brunsman and junior Dominic Durdella to finish 11th in the 4×200-meter relay with a time of 1:34.50. Belitz, Brunsman, Durdella and McCullough also finished ninth in the 4×100-meter relay with a time of 45.59 seconds and senior Colin Jedrzejek finished 12th in the pole vault (10-6). Freshman Sam Richardson finished 11th in the girls high jump with a cleared height of 4-feet, 8-inches.
Berkshire junior Breanna Pennypacker also qualified for the finals with a sixth place finish in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1:02.25.