By Rob Kiser
and David Fong
COLUMBUS — Twelve Covington track and field athletes made the trip to Columbus for the Division III state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
None of them returned empty-handed — and it was all capped by Jayce Pond celebrating his birthday.
“Everyone that came over here won a medal,” Covington senior Zane Barnes said. “That doesn’t usually happen. That is pretty special.”
In the final race in D-III, Pond teamed with Barnes, Gray Harshbarger and Nathan Lyle for sixth place in the 4×400 relay with a time of 3:26.48.
“Today’s my birthday,” Pond said. “That (running at state) is what I wished for. We got up on the podium, which is better than we have done in the past.”
Harshbarger said it was a memorable day.
“I thought we all ran well,” he said. “It felt great to be up on the podium.”
Like in the semifinals Friday, Lyle held off a runner at the end for sixth place.
“Yeah, it was close,” Lyle said. “But I think that is what makes it fun, when you have a close race like that. It felt great to be on the podium.”
Covington hurdler Cade Harshbarger took sixth in the 110 hurdles in 15.15 seconds.
“I am happy because I ran a PR,” Harshbarger said. “You work hard all year to run your PR at the end of the season. Much credit to my coaches.”
Harshbarger thought the 300 hurdles would be his best chance.
“That was disappointing yesterday, to not make the finals of the 300 hurdles,” he said. “That will definitely be a goal next year — to make finals in both. It was great to be up on the podium. I did that at indoors, but there are three times as many people here for this.”
Covington junior Rayna Horner took sixth in the 400 in 58.17 seconds.
“I felt like I ran really good,” she said. “I know my time wasn’t as fast as I wanted, but it felt like I was running a good race. I came in seeded fourth and finished sixth, but I felt like I ran well. Two of the girls ran under 57. That is just crazy in this heat.”
Horner ran a 57.34-second split on the opening leg of the 4×400 relay and teamed with Morgan Lowe, Paige Boehringer and Breanna Kimmel for a seventh-place finish in 4:03.87.
“It felt like a good race,” Horner said. “You would always like to finish higher, but we are all back next year.”
“I am not going to lie — I would have liked to finish higher,” she said. “But it felt great being up on the podium.”
It was Kimmel’s first trip to the podium in three years at the state meet.
“I feel like I just keep improving every year,” she said. “I do better every year.”
And Horner had no complaints as the season came to an end.
“What a great experience for us to be over here,” she said. “If you had told me at the beginning of the year I would be at the podium at the state meet twice, I would have expected that. I am happy with that.”
As are all 12 Buccs, who returned with medals from the state meet.
Bethel junior Korry Hamlin, making his first appearance at the state meet and entering the race with the 12th-best time — came out strong but struggled down the stretch Saturday, finishing 13th in 10:05.73.
Bradford’s Karmen Knepp — a sophomore that already possesses the school’s distance records — struggled in the 3,200 Saturday, finishing 16th in 12:02.13.
Rob Kiser can be reached at (937) 451-3334. Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong.