By VINCE PELUSO
If there was a lesson to be taken away from this weekend’s Division I state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium for the Geneva Eagles, it was just how difficult it is to win once you get to the state meet.
The Eagles’ 1600-meter relay team of Hailey VanHoy, Summer Ardnt, Brittany Aveni and Emily Deering came in as regional champs, but for the second-straight year, they ended the state meet in ninth place in the event, one spot away from the podium, running a time of 3:57.97.
“Every year, it seems like certain events are tougher here and there and this is a great field,” Geneva coach Bobby McQuoid said. “We saw a lot of records go down and there are just a lot of tough athletes you’re going up against.
“I saw a little bit of tired legs from the girls (in the 1600), they all gave it their all. It was a real fast heat, running against kids like that it’s tough.”
On Friday, Geneva’s 3200 relay ran the third-fastest time in state meet history but had to settle for second place.
The sting of missing the podium in the 1600 was evident on the faces of the four competitors, but McQuoid felt part of that is due to the fact that it is the final event of the day.
“I think in the (1600) it seems like its tougher because it’s the last event and the last event usually writes the whole day,” he said. “But I think once we take them back in the van and realize the things they did do and the times did they run and going on to nationals next week, they’ll be fine.”
Geneva’s 1600 team looked a little worn down and rightfully so as Deering and Aveni also competed in the 800-meter run earlier in the day.
Both came up a little short of their goal as Aveni’s time of 2:14.53 was good enough for 10th place while Deering finished 15th with a time of 2:18.76.
“It was pretty hot and I know with that race it was so tight, there was a big pack,” McQuoid said of the 800. “I’m not sure if it was the pack or what but either way they gave it their all. You could tell they were a little dead in the (1600).
“You take ninth, the worst spot to take, in their opinion. I think it’s awesome to be in the top nine in the state.”
Also competing for the Eagles was Ally Thompson in the pole vault. The Division I Austintown regional champ finished 14th.
However she had been battling an illness that caused her to lose some weight throughout the Eagles tournament run and clearly affected her performance Saturday.
“It really had a toll on her today, she was a little weak, just didn’t have the strength,” McQuoid said. “She looked like when she planted the pole seemed a lot stiffer which is normal when you lose the amount of weight she lost in the last couple weeks. She was real excited about being here, she wasn’t able to get here last year so it’s a step up. Hopefully, get a little bit more and a little bit more as she goes on.”
Finally, Geneva senior Hannah Ellsworth finished 15th in the discus with a throw of 112-feet-11.
“She threw a little bit less than she’s used to, she was a little off today,” McQuoid said. “I don’t know if it was the nerves or what, but it was a great experience for her and she did a great job.”
Both Ellsworth and VanHoy received their diplomas in front of the crowd at the podium area as they missed graduation to compete.
“Hannah was still happy to get her diploma in front of the fans and be down at state and enjoy it,” McQuoid said. “Hailey had a tremendous career. Watching her develop as a track athlete and just a great young lady I’m excited for her and everything she’s got in the future. She’s going to go run at Lake Erie. She’s one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever had.
“To see her get a medal and get her diploma in front of all the fans was a great way to end her career.”
While Ellsworth and VanHoy will graduate, the other five athletes the Eagles had compete in Columbus this weekend will return next year, something McQuoid is certainly excited about.
“There is lots to build on, success breads success,” he said. “It’s good to get a lot of these younger ones success and hopefully, it can trickle down to the other younger ones after them.
“Then we can keep building and keep building and carry it on."