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High School Track & Field

Highland's Kayle Kenne saves best for last with second-place finish at state meet

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    Highland's Kaylie Kenne runs to a second place finish in the 3200 meter run at the state track and field championships.

    AARON JOSEFCZYK / GAZETTE

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COLUMBUS — Kaylie Kenne isn’t one for showing her emotions on the track, but after she walked off the podium Saturday while carrying an envelope with her All-Ohio certificate, the Highland senior couldn’t contain her smile.

No one could blame Kenne, either, after she finished second in the Division I 3,200-meter run — one of many highlights for Medina County athletes on the final day of the State Track and Field Championships.

After a handful of appearances without getting to the podium in front of a packed crowd at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, she waited an awful long time for the moment.

“I didn’t expect this,” Kenne said. “I’ve always like the two-mile more, and my goal was to get here and get on the podium, so to actually get to do it is pretty cool.”

Allowing Beavercreek’s Taylor Ewert to set the early pace, Kenne held on to the second position for the entirety. The Kentucky recruit was pressured by Toledo Notre Dame’s Lauryn Mick during the early laps but outkicked the junior for the runner-up finish in 10:34.31.

Ewert led wire to wire en route to taking the crown in 10:23.14.

“I knew coming in that (Ewert) was really going to go out fast, so I was planning on just going out and running my race,” Kenne said. “I just stayed calm and did what I needed to do. I wasn’t going too much for time, because it’s always hot here and the wind was tough, but I just pushed it and I’m so happy.

“Four years of hard work finally paid off when I got up there.”

Brunswick’s Emily Bardwell used an impressive late surge to finish fourth in 10:42.01. The junior hovered around eighth before making her move on the final lap and improving on last season’s eighth-place finish.

“I wasn’t really too sure at the beginning. I got out a little slower than I expected, because it’s the state meet and everybody gets out fast,” she said. “My goal was to just keep working up and, when I saw that opportunity, I just went for it. I saw my shot and I shot it.”

A host of other area athletes found the podium.

Medina distance runner Juliette Keller finished with three All-Ohio medals, helping the 4x400 relay to fourth with Katie Smith, Rachel Smith and Angela Dobson and placing fifth in the 1,600 in 4:54.32.

Her mile time was just 0.25 seconds off her personal record from earlier this season.

“It’s my third year here, but every time it shocks me how fast we go out,” Keller said. “It’s like, ‘Whoa,’ but this year my goal was to stick with the first group, because in previous years I stayed behind the first group and the gap separated more and more.

“It was pretty difficult, but I’m just glad I pushed through.”

Senior sprinter Katie Smith earned two medals after running with Alli Pankow, Haley Anspach and Mary Beth Blakemore on the eighth-place 4x2. The Bees improved on their school-record time from a week ago, clocking 1:42.69.

“Just to get on the podium, it’s a great way to end my senior year,” Katie Smith said. “Last year I think I was just lucky to be able to come here and I didn’t focus as well. This time I was thankful, but I was focused on running well and keeping that momentum going.”

Brunswick’s Meg Daly was fifth in the discus, as the senior posted 142 feet, 5 inches on her first attempt of the finals.

It was a bittersweet day, however, as Daly placed 11th in the shot (39-7), missing the finals by two spots.

“Of course I had hoped that I would have placed higher in both, but after it was over and I was really thinking about it, I’m perfectly OK with how I did,” she said. “I think I gave it my all, and that’s all me and my coaches could have asked for.”

Wadsworth’s Kira Tavanello took 14th in the discus with 121-11.

Also competing in D-I field events, Brunswick’s Angelina Lotarski cleared 11-6 in the pole vault to tie for eighth and make her second straight podium appearance. Competing on a new pole, the junior struggled with consistency before bowing out at 12-0.

“It’s not what I wanted to do, but that’s the way it is,” she said. “I was comfortable and it was definitely new, but it was just different. I just didn’t have the right mentality. I went out there and did the best I could, but it didn’t work out as well as I wanted it to.”

Medina’s Carmela Henning was 12th in the 800 (2:14.27), while Wadsworth’s Sami Shaffer placed 14th (2:17.21) and Medina’s Valerie Suttman 18th (2:19.33).

In D-II, Tommie Kurtz earned her first All-Ohio finish, as the Cloverleaf senior took sixth in 2:16.91.

It was a fitting way to end her high school career and helped erase bitter memories of a year ago when she was 17th.

“Last year was a blessing in disguise,” she said. “Failure brings a lot of determination, and that’s what I needed for this race. I got on that line and nerves went away after the gun and I just raced.

“I had to get myself out at that 150 until the second lap starts and I got out in the position that I wanted to be in. From there, for me, it was leech on, cover some moves and make some moves.”

Cloverleaf’s Maddie Boltz placed 17th with a mark of 14-2¾.

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.


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