AUSTINTOWN — Even though they’d both been there before, Jefferson hurdler Terril Skinner and and Edgewood distance runner Bailey Roberts know not to take anything for granted.
“It’s never easy making state,” Skinner said. “You make it one year, it does not meant you’re going back to next year. If I ran the time I ran last year, I wouldn’t be going back. I had to put in the work.”
After Division II regional performances at Division II Austintown Saturday, Skinner and Roberts are both going back to the Jesse Owens Stadium for next week’s state track and field competition. They’ll be joined by Jefferson pole vaulter Morgan Smith.
Skinner qualified in the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 14.7, good for fourth place. Roberts qualified in the 3200-meter run with a wind and heat hampering time of 11:40.26 for second. Smith notched a personal best 9-8 to finish fourth.
For Skinner, getting to Columbus was a matter of fractions of seconds. One hurdler was disqualified and the other seven were within less than half a second from first to last.
“I thought I got fourth, but I did not know,” Skinner said. “There were people to my left that were right there, people to right. I was just looking up at the board and as soon as my name came up as fourth, I was relieved.
“Everybody was under 15 seconds so that just tells you how good the competition is, so to make it out with the great competition here, that means a lot.”
It’ll be even better next week as Skinner will try to improve on the 10th-place finish he posted a year ago.
“Last year I got a taste of it,” he said. “This year, my plan is I want to be on that podium, definitely 100 percent, maybe get that state title. We’ll see what happens.”
For Roberts, the finish wasn’t nearly as climatic, but she found herself in a bit of a dogfight until pulling away from the pack about halfway through the race.
Aside that situation, the weather conditions were not helping, either.
“Very hot, very windy,” Roberts said. “So, times were gonna be slow. We knew that when we finished, it was like ‘Oh my goodness.”’
Roberts set a district record at Lakeview May 18 with a time of 11:35.00.
With the wind and heat, she knew Saturday was a day just to qualify.
“When they came out with the sheet (seeding times), it looked like the top four were going to be together, but you can never go by that because some people are better in hot weather, some better in cool,” Roberts said.
Roberts is one that prefers the cooler temperatures. She stayed in second place after the first four laps, but by the fifth go-around, it was herself, along with Sydney Jenko of Padua Franciscan and Ella Pumneo of Fairless.
Jenko ended up taking first in a time of 11:39.35.
Like Skinner, this will be Roberts’ second state trip to Columbus. She also has qualified three times in cross country.
Roberts, too, is looking to improve on the performance she turned in a year ago, where she didn’t reach the podium.
“It was my first time, I think I was super nervous,” she said. “It definitely didn’t go the way I wanted it to. Now that I know what I’m walking into I’m hoping that I can stay calm and hopefully hit the podium.”
She will go to Columbus seeded ninth.
For Smith, the pole vault was something that she wasn’t even remotely interested in. But with a gymnastics background, the Falcon coaches kept the pressure on.
“My freshman year they were pelting me,” the junior said with a laugh. “I wanted to run, wanted to do long jump, that’s what I want to do. But, this year, Mr. (TJ) Furman really got on me, and they talked me into it.”
Now, Smith loves the feeling each time she clears the bar.
“It’s the best feeling in the world.” she said.
But, just because she enjoys it, that doesn’t mean she saw herself reaching state.
“I was terrible at the beginning of the season,” Smith said. “I didn’t even see myself getting here (regional). My best jumps were like 6 feet. But something clicked in my head. My mom actually got in the head the most. She was like ‘You can do it.”’
Previous to Saturday, Smith’s best jump was 8-9 at the Lakeview District May 18. She said not letting the bigger stage effect her nerves was a big key in having success on Saturday.
“If I get nervous, I do bad,” Smith said. “So, I just kind of cleared my head and whatever happens, happens. You either make it or you don’t, but I’m super happy that it did and I’m excited to get to experience next week.”
Smith’s vault turned out to be the benchmark to get to Columbus.
Meanwhile, Edgewood’s Emily Pew finished fifth with a jump of 9-4 — just missing out on a state spot.
“I think the worst thing that could have happened was I didn’t do my best,” the senior said. “I set a PR and a new school record, but I knew that it would probably come down to 9-8 to get to state. I had a good week of practice and so I was pretty much ready, sometimes it just comes down to how you do that day.”
In a running event Saturday, Jefferson’s Maddie Pierce took sixth in the the 300-meter hurdles in a time of 47.54. A junior, she’ll be back next year.
Coventry junior Ashley Martinez picked up the last state spot in the 300 hurdles at 46.02.