By Rob Kiser
and David Fong
COLUMBUS — It was a day for records for the Covington track and field teams Saturday in the Division III state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
And it ended with a burst to remember from senior Rayna Horner to lock up some hardware and add to the Buccaneers’ state championship trophy.
Covington entered the girls 4×400 relay trailing second-place Malvern by eight points, needing Covington needed a win to lock up second place in the team standings.
Horner chased down Jessica Stamp of McDonald and Lindsey Bishop of Liberty-Benton to win the 4×400 relay in a school-record time of 3:56.71 and give Covington second place overall with 32 points. Minster won the team title with 57.
“When I saw Rayna (Horner) make that move, I knew we had it,” Covington girls track and field coach David Tobias said with emotion in his voice. “Because, I knew she would run a smart race (and finish in front).”
It made state champions of Horner, Breanna Kimmel, Paige Boehringer and Morgan Lowe.
“Just let me go on record and say, yes I thought we would win a state championship in this race,” Horner said about the foursome who had finished seventh a year ago. “Honestly, I would rather get the baton in third — than in last or first. It is a much better position to run from.”
Sophomore Morgan Lowe had held that third position on the third leg.
“That’s what I wanted to do,” Lowe said. “If you can’t get the lead, you might as well give her the baton in a good position like third.”
Senior Breanna Kimmel and junior Paige Boehringer couldn’t believe what they were witnessing.
“When I saw her take the lead at the 200-yard mark, I was like yes, yes, we are going to win,” Boehringer said. “I couldn’t believe it. It was amazing. I think our thoughts from the start this year were we were going to win.”
For Kimmel, in her fourth year at state, winning a state championship was almost a sense of relief.
“I was just so happy because I realized we were going to win,” Kimmel said. “I am glad we switched the order because I couldn’t have run an anchor leg like that. It just feels really good to be a state champion.”
Covington almost had another state title in the girls 4×200 relay.
Tori Lyle teamed with Horner, Lowe and Kimmel to finish second in 1:44.51.
Kimmel nearly chased down Jessica Drown of Fremont St. Joseph on the anchor leg and held off Lucia Cannata of Gilmour Academy by six-hundreths of a second.
“It felt great to finish second,” Lyle said. “There was some thoughts about winning, but we still ran an amazing race to finish second. It is a great way to end my career.”
Horner also had a third-place finish in the 400 in 57.56 seconds.
“Yes and no,” Horner said about how she felt about the race. “I was running against some of the best 400 runners in any division. I ran a good time.”
Cade Harshbarger made his final race one to remember.
Which is all he really wanted.
“After the 110s, I knew the 300s (hurdles) was my last race, and I better make it a good one,” Harshbarger said. “And I did.”
After finishing sixth in the 110 hurdles in 15.03 seconds, he took third in the 300s in 38.91 seconds, a new school record.
”It feels pretty good,” Harshbarger said. “I progressed every year from not making finals to making it on on podium once last year and making it up there twice this year. I brushed the first hurdle (in the 110s) and finished sixth again. In the 300s, I saw one guy out of the corner of me eye at the end and just leaned. That got me the school record.”
Covington boys coach Kyle Moore was glad to see Harshbarger get the school record.
“For Cade to lean not only to get third but get a school record, that is impressive,” Moore said. “He wanted to get a school record in one of the races today and he did that.”
Covington boys also put two relay teams on the podium.
Thex400 relay (Gray Harshbarger, Andrew Cates, Tyler Freeman, Nathan Lyle) finished sixth in 3:26.76 and the 4×200 relay (Alex Shaffer, Gray Harshbarger, Lyle, Freeman) finished eighth in 1:32.60.
“The 4×200 we just put together late in the year and to get up on the podium, that’s a bonus,” Moore said. “ The 4×4 I thought they ran really well. For Gray (Harshbarger) and Nathan (Lyle) to get up on the podium two years in a row, that’s great.”
The team had watched Jett Murphy win a state title in the pole vault Friday night.
“To overcome several knee surgeries and win a state title, that just shows you can do anything,” Lyle said. “So I would say it motivated us. It is a great way to end my career. The 4×2, we never expected anything like this.”
Harshbarger said he learned from last year’s trip to state.
“I think experience was a big factor,” he said. “I think having been here before helped a lot.”
And for the girls, the experience of bringing home hardware was special.
“I think for Breanna and myself, it is more nostalgic,” Horner said about the second-place team finish. “Because we are seniors and we knew this was our last trip to state.”
And with a state championship in their final race, it couldn’t have ended in a better way.
Korry Hamlin never got the chance he earned to compete at the state cross country meet last fall.
So, given the chance to run a final time at the Division III state track and field meet, the Bethel senior took full advantage of it, passing a pair of runners in the final 20 meters to place eighth and earn a spot on the podium, finishing in 9:44.43.
“This is something I was looking forward to after I didn’t get to compete in cross country my senior year,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin actually qualified for a spot in the state cross country meet, but he had to choose between competing at that meet and playing in with his teammates in a Division III district championship soccer match.
“It was a pretty tough,” Hamlin said. “I had been a three-time individual state qualifier, but I felt like our soccer team had a chance to win state. So it really wasn’t that tough a decision for me. I wanted to be with my teammates.”
Which made placing at state in track and field that much sweeter.
“I knew this was going to be my place race ever,” he said. “I just wanted to go out and give it everything I had.”
Lehman ran in three finals on Saturday, placing in all three.
In the 4×100 relay, the team of Lauren McFarland, Lindsey Magoteaux, Rylie McIver and Alanna O’Leary finished second in 50.2 seconds. In the 200, O’Leary placed seventh in 25.58 seconds. And in the 100, Magoteaux placed eighth in 12.54 seconds.