There’s fast, then there’s fast.
The Geneva girls 3200-meter relay team ran fast Friday. How fast? They ran the third-fastest time in state meet history, finishing in a blazing time of 9:04.77.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Perrysburg was fast Friday, finishing in 9:04.63 to sneak just past Geneva to win the Division I state title in the 3200 relay at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Second leg Dareion Marrsion gave Geneva the lead after three laps and it held that lead throughout.
Anchor Emily Deering maintained the advantage, stretching it out to as much as 10 meters during her stretch, but in the final 200 meters, Perrsyburg’s Courtney Clody made an incredible move to snatch the victory from what appeared to be the firm grasp of the Eagles.
“It was like one of the most glorious and most saddest moments in my life all put together in one spot,” Deering said of running an incredible time but coming away in second place. “You come into this thinking, ‘we can do this, we’re strong, we’re prepared,’ but I knew it in the last few steps. I was sprinting full speed and she was still moving ahead.”
The Eagles came in with the fastest seed time, having won the Division I regional in Austintown at 9:15.60, but blew that time away Friday.
“We had a good workout week and the girls knew they just had to come out fast and run with some confidence and they did,” Geneva coach Bobby McQuoid said. “They knew Perrysburg was going to be there and they ran a great race. Dareion made up some ground, my second leg, then when she took off at the first turn of the second lap and Brittany (Aveni) did her job. Tough for Em cuz, of course, she’s the last one and it’s going to be on her, but when you’re running against an anchor like Courtney Clody of Perrysburg, you know it’s going to be a tough race.
“There’s no shame in setting the stadium and meet record, so it was awesome.”
Hailey VanHoy, who had recently battled some illness, got the Eagles off to a strong start handing the baton to Marrrison with the Eagles in second place and Aveni held that lead.
Deering said the fast start got the rest of the team going.
“We’re very happy with how Hailey started,” she said. “She’s been sick and seeing her get out strong was really motivating to the rest of us. “
VanHoy’s sub-2:20 split in the first leg set the tone for the record-shattering race.
“We talk about not getting boxed in, that’s why the first 300 meters we like to get to that cutoff and establish a good position so we don’t’ have to work harder to get around the box,” McQuoid said. “She ran a really good race, went sub-2:20 for her split and really got the race started and the rest of the girls did their thing. They’ve been talking about sub-9:10 the whole week.
“I didn’t think they meant sub-9:05.”
McQuoid said the race ended about how he expected, with Geneva and Perrsyburg going head to head, it was just a matter of which would edge the other out.
“I knew she (Deering) had a kick and I knew she was going to give it a shot and I’m sure the Perrysburg girl had a kick, too, and how it finished was exactly how I thought it was going to finish,” McQuoid said of his thoughts during the final stretch. “It was going to go either way. It was neck and neck. We fought with them in indoor and it was the same, it was just a little faster time (today).”
Although it didn’t end in the victory they would’ve liked, the second-place finish is quite a jump from last year, when Geneva placed 11th and didn’t make it to the podium.
“When you come down and you miss that podium, we talked about it at the beginning of the year, and they said they were going to see us at the top and ultimately, they wanted to be at the very top and that was their goal and it’s upsetting from just getting on the podium to this year we wanted to win the whole thing so it’s kind of a huge jump,” McQuoid said. “They did what they set out to do. They went up and ran the race and the time is just remarkable when you look at how fast it was and all the splits.
“In the last few weeks, we went from 9:30 to 9:04 and to watch girls drop splits like that it’s awesome.”
While a state record is certainly something that can’t be expected, McQuoid did believe a sub-9:10 time was possible.
“I knew we had a chance to go sub 9:10, I was thinking 9:08 or 9:09 (going in),” he said. “When I saw Hailey’s split I thought there was a good chance we were going to run really fast today. I just kept adding it up and oh man, couldn’t wait to see the final time. As a coach, I know they’re capable of it they just had to make sure they knew they were capable of it. And I think with the guts and the atmosphere and the fans and everything else it just happened so it was pretty cool.”
In addition to the 3200 relay, Geneva also competed in the preliminaries of the 1600-meter relay where the team of Summer Ardnt, Aveni, VanHoy and Deering qualified for today’s finals running a 3:55.99.
That was good enough for fourth in their heat and seventh overall.
The Eagles will look to shave a little time off that if they hope to move up the podium as Pickerington Central had the fastest qualifying time at 3:53.30.
This marks the second consecutive year Geneva made it to the finals in the 1600, but it was unable to make the podium last year.
The Eagles will look to reverse that decision today at 6:45.
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