By David Fong
HUBER HEIGHTS — Right up until her very last day of high school, Christine Moser never stopped listening and learning.
That paid off nicely for her Friday evening at the Division I regional track and field meet at Wayne High School.
“I think it was a very good thing I’m a senior and we were wrapping up school,” the Troy senior pole vaulter said. “We got to hear all of these special messages from speakers who gave us motivational messages. The whole bus ride over here, I was curled up in this little ball, repeating every motivational thing they said. They all told us we were going to do big things.”
Those inspirational nuggets would prove prescient for Moser, who did indeed do big things Friday as she took third place in the pole vault with a leap of 12-0, good enough to earn her a second-straight trip to next week’s state track and field championships.
Moser knew going into Friday’s meet she was facing a loaded field, as five vaulters had qualifying marks of 12 feet or better. Only the top four in each region qualify for state.
“I knew there were five girls fighting for four spots,” Moser said. “That’s what I kept telling myself, ‘Five fighting for four.’ I just wanted to make sure I was one of the four.”
Moser put herself in prime position early, sailing through her first three heights without a miss. By the time she cleared 11-6, there were only four vaulters remaining and her spot at state was secure. She missed on her first attempt at 12 feet, then cleared it on her second. She went out on three misses at 12-4, which would have tied a school record.
Not that it much mattered, as Moser already was booked for a return trip to state by that point.
“I was so nervous about this meet, because I knew how good the other girls were,” Moser said. “It’s all I could think about. My mind was going 150 miles per hour. But now I’m in. That’s all that matters.”
Wrestling with success
Nick Mittelstadt knows he’ll probably never be a state-caliber wrestler.
But the time he’s spent on the mats in the winter the past two years have made him one of the best Division I high jumpers in Ohio.
“I’m glad I wrestled this winter,” said the Troy junior, who placed fourth Friday with a jump of 6-2, good enough to earn a trip to state. He’ll be the lone member of the Troy boys track and field team competing at state. “I got in a lot better shape and was a lot stronger. I was a very mediocre wrestler, but that wasn’t the purpose. I wrestled to help get me ready for this. Doing other sports does help you with your main sport.”
Mittelstadt was one of six jumpers to clear the 6-2 mark. Only three cleared 6-3, leaving one spot for the three jumpers — including Mittelstadt — who cleared 6-2. Since Mittelstadt had fewer misses earlier in the competition, he won the tiebreaker and the trip to state.
“It is awesome,” he said. “This is one of the best feelings I’ve had in awhile. This is what I’ve been working for all year and it’s good to see it paid off.”
Browder takes title
Most athletes would have been elated to qualify for the state track and field meet in one event as a freshman.
Lenea Browder is not most most athletes, however.
So even after qualifying for state in the discus and placing ninth last year as a freshman last year, Browder wanted more this year.
Friday, she got it.
After earning a trip to state by placing second in the shot put Wednesday, Browder dominated the competition Friday in the discus, unleashing a throw of 149-2, nearly 18 feet better than Mason’s Amaya King, who placed second in the event with a throw of 131-9. She’ll be competing in both the shot put and discus at state.
“I really wanted to go to state in two events this year,” Browder said. “Last year it was hard to watch the shot put and seeing everyone else doing something I love, but not be able to do it. I should have been there last year.”
Browder successfully defended her regional title in the discus and will be among the favorites in both the shot put and discus at state.
“I’m so thankful for my coach, who sees me through everything,” Browder said. “I’m ready to go to state.”
Gigandet gets wild card
For about 10-15 minutes, it looked like the star-studded career of Trojan distance runner Morgan Gigandet had come to an end on the track at Wayne’s Heidkamp Stadium.
The cross country state champion and three-time state placer in the 3,200 — who has been hampered by a hip injury for most of the season — finished fifth in the 3,200 Friday in 11:07.09. Up until this year, only the top four in each region qualified for the state meet.
This year, however, the Ohio High School Athletic Association enacted a “wild card” rule that allows not only the top four finishers in each region to go to state, but also two runners in the state with the next-best times in each running event.
Gigandet unofficially earned one of the wild card spots, which should be enough to get her a fourth-straight trip to the state track meet.
Moeller places fifth
Unfortunately for Troy senior Camryn Moeller, the new wild card rule only applies to running events and not field events. If it did, Moeller would be going to state in the long jump.
Moeller placed fifth at regionals with a jump of 17-6.75. If the wild card existed for field events, Moeller’s jump would have been long enough to pick up one of the coveted spots.
Making things all the more heartbreaking for Moeller was the fact she was sitting in fourth place until Fairfield’s Nina Ward passed her with her final jump of the day.
Moeller — who only joined the track team last season as a junior — will be playing volleyball at The Ohio State University this fall.
In addition to Moeller, a number of other Trojan athletes saw their seasons — and in some cases, their careers — end Friday.
For the Troy girls, junior Lilli Cusick was 11th in the pole vault (9-6). Senior Kylee Brooks was 12th in the discus with a throw of 103-10. Junior Olivia Tyre was 12th in the 1,600 (5:31.12), while freshman Dinah Gigandet was 14th (5:44.42). Junior Kate Pence was 14th in the 3,200 in a time of 12:10.26.
For the Troy boys, senior Andy Smith was 14th in the 3,200 in a time of 10:27.43. Junior Spencer Klopfenstein was 15th in the shot put (46-2.5). Sophomore Tucker Raskay was 15th in the high jump with a leap of 5-10.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong