COLUMBUS — Kaitlyn Gum had a few goals heading into the Division III state track and field meet.
Placing higher than eighth in the shot put, like she did last year, was the biggest one.
“Right before I came here while I was at the hotel, we were talking about what place I wanted to get,” the New London junior said. “I said, ‘I really don’t care as long as it’s not eighth.’ I wanted anything above eighth.
“I wanted to excel and not decline from last year.”
That goal quickly became a reality for Gum, who finished as state runner-up with a throw of 41-feet-2¾ to earn the area’s top placement Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
Her success didn’t happen by accident. Gum spent countless hours working on her craft during the offseason, which paid big dividends when it came time to compete this spring.
“I was working with people from [Ashland University during the offseason],” she said. “They helped me get into the rotation, being able to use that for good and not falling off the rotation. They helped me learn it.
“I worked mainly on rotation all summer. During the winter, I was working on rotation 24-7. I was repeating myself back-to-back. I’d be in my house spinning myself repeatedly. It’s all about repetition.”
Gum realized she had a chance to have a special year when she broke the school record with a throw of 42-1 at a dual meet early in the season.
“That was the meet I was able to push above and beyond and break the school record,” she said. “It was a really cold meet, so I was surprised that I did break it that time. Since then, I kind of knew that I can throw farther than I expect.”
Marion Local senior Molly Winner won the event with a toss of 43-0. Since she’s graduating, Gum is the top returning placer heading into next season.
“I’m hoping for a state title next year,” she said. “It all depends on my work ethic this summer and over the winter.
“I feel like next year I will be pushing for a state title. I’m hoping.”
Crestview quartet happy to get on the podium
Heading into the boys 4×800-meter relay race, Crestview senior Tommy O’Neill and his teammates knew they had a chance to get on the podium.
“I just told the guys, ‘Let’s just do whatever we can today and see what happens,’” O’Neill said.
What happened was they finished seventh in a season-best time of 8:09.29, earning All-Ohio honors.
“I think we ran really well overall as a team,” senior Gabe Smedley said. “I think the whole race was really fast, and that helped us push a little faster than we were used to.”
The two seniors were joined by freshmen Logan Friges and Cooper Brockway, who did their part in helping the Cougars finish seventh.
“They’ve done really well,” Smedley said of the two freshmen. “They’ve played their parts and done their roles. They’ve run really fast. They’ve come out here every day and worked to get better for me and Tommy and the team.”
Facing elite talent brought out the best of the quartet.
“When we have better competition, we all do better,” O’Neill said. “It just makes it a fun atmosphere.”
Last year, O’Neill and Smedley were members of the state runner-up 4×800 relay. Making it back to Columbus and getting All-Ohio again in the event was extra special for Smedley.
“With Ross Kuhn and Evan Gibbs graduating, we weren’t too sure what our 4×8 would look like [this year],” Smedley said. “It’s really nice to get back here and place on the podium.”
Crestview’s Shawn Bailey earns All-Ohio honors
Bailey converted his first three attempts during the boys pole vault event.
That proved crucial for the junior, who earned All-Ohio honors by finishing eighth with a vault of 13-6.
“I can’t be disappointed,” he said. “I don’t think I did my best, but it was still overall a good day. I didn’t take a miss until 14-feet, and that helped me out a ton. That’s what got me the eighth-place spot on the podium. I wanted to go higher, but I got All-Ohio, so I can’t be disappointed.”
Bailey had a few goals entering the season.
Win a conference title. Check.
Make it to state. Check.
Place on the podium. Check.
Clear 14-6. Not quite, but there’s always next year.
“I was hoping to go 14-4 or 14-8, which would put me about in the middle of the podium,” he said. “But I made podium, so I can’t be disappointed.”
Bailey enjoyed his first state experience.
“It was a whole lot of adrenaline,” he said. “It was really exciting. It was fun.”
South Central’s Carson Music has record-setting day
Things couldn’t have gone much better for Music, who set two school records during prelims.
The senior finished second in his 400 heat in 49.61 to earn an automatic qualification into Saturday’s finals. He also ran a leg on the 4×400 relay, which advanced to the finals by winning its heat in 3:25.30.
He enters the 400 finals with the fifth-fastest time, while the 4×400 is seeded first.
In the 400, Music outkicked the other racers down the stretch to earn a spot in the finals.
“I usually long stride on the backstretch and kick in during the final 200,” he said. “Everyone else is hopefully dying out then, and I push right past them at the end.”
Music teamed with Parker Gray, Isaac Blair and Trey Beverly in the 4×400.
“We saw everyone else running 3:26s, so we were a little amped up,” Music said. “My teammates did really good, and we just crushed it.”
The quartet’s goal entering finals is simple — win a state title.
“We’re going after it, for sure,” Music said.
The same quartet also competed in the 4×200 relay, finishing 13th in 1:32.06. They did not qualify for the finals.
Beverly also just missed the finals in the 400, finishing 11th in 51.19.
Several locals compete but fail to finish as All-Ohioans
Crestview sophomore Wade Bolin placed ninth in the shot put with a personal-best throw of 52-1 and 11th in the discus with a toss of 153-6. He also ran a leg on the 4×100 relay, along with Connor Morse, Everett Smith and Tanner Moore, but the quartet didn’t finish the race.
Crestview’s 4×400 relay of Smith, Caden Cunningham, O’Neill and Smedley finished 11th in 3:31.64, while Cougars junior Noah Stuart placed 13th in the shot put with a throw of 46-10.
Mapleton’s Jillian Carrick finished 14th in the 100 in a personal-best time of 12.69. Although she didn’t make the finals, she was still happy with her performance.
“I obviously ran my best,” she said. “It’s really intimidating running with these types of girls, and I think I’m blessed.”
Getting to finish her high school career at the state meet meant everything to the senior, who will run next year at Cuyahoga Community College.
“It’s emotional,” she said. “Mapleton track has given me so much. My coaches and my teammates, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”
Loudonville’s Corri Vermilya competed in the 300 hurdles and as a member of the 4×200 relay, but she didn’t make the finals in either event. The sophomore finished 15th in the lows (48.56) and the relay placed 13th (1:48.07).
“It’s definitely cool to be [at state] again and this year at Ohio State, so I’m really, really grateful for that,” she said. “It’s not the way I wanted it to turn out, but I knew that we’d come out here and compete.
“We didn’t run a bad time for our 4×2. It was around our usual time, so there’s nothing to be sad about there. … I guess I’m a little disappointed about the 300 hurdles. I know I was seeded pretty low, but I wanted to run a quicker time. I wanted to go out and race myself and get a PR, which it wasn’t, but that’s OK. I didn’t even expect to make it here in the 300 hurdles.”
Other relay members were Kenzie Cutlip, Anna Templeman and Sydney Polen, who finished ninth in the long jump with a personal-record mark of 16-11½.
Mapleton’s Bella Tabler and Madison Bailey and South Central’s Angela Williams also competed in the long jump. Tabler finished 11th (16-6¼), Williams 15th (16-1) and Bailey 16th (15-11).
Williams also finished 16th in the 200 with a time of 26.65.
SC’s Onalee Keysor and Claire Osborn both just missed a spot on the podium. Keysor finished ninth in the pole vault (10-6), while Osborn placed ninth in the shot put (38-8).
Northwestern freshman Emily Thompson also competed in the shot put, finishing 10th with a throw of 37-7.
This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: New London’s Kaitlyn Gum places second in girls shot put