By MARK HEIMAN
COLUMBUS – Bonnie Stratton was walking with a slight limp and a bag of ice around her left ankle.
The fortunate part was the four medals already dangling around her neck.
The Bluffton sprinter’s day and state track and field meet was complete.
And what completed it the most were the two gold medals around her neck after she swept the Division III sprints during the 34th edition of Ohio High School Athletic Association state track and field meet.
“I am extremely happy with this, especially in the 200. I wanted to defend my title in that,” said Stratton, while sitting next to teammate John Guagenti, who had also just won the boys 200.
“It showed how the hard work and dedication paid off.
“The ankle isn’t a big deal,” added Stratton, assuring that she wasn’t trying to be like relay teammates Kendra and Lindsay Bassitt, who have left leg stress fractures. “I felt it kind of pull in the 4x2. It’s not too bad, just a little sore.”
Stratton’s two wins helped Bluffton earn 28 points to place fifth in the team standings. Bellaire St. John won the team title with 69 points, while Gates Mills Gilmour Academy was second with 61.
Stratton opened her day with a no-doubt win in the 100-meter dash. The junior finished in 12.33 seconds to beat second-place Candace Longino-Thomas of Gilmour Academy, who had a 12.59.
The situation was the same in her final event, the 200. She looked as if she were shot out of the starter’s gun on her start and finished the race in 25.04, which was sixth-tenths of a second faster than her win last year. Longino-Thomas was again second in 25.43.
Stratton’s 200 win last year was a bit of a surprise as she had only placed third in the regional.
“Last year was totally different. I was the underdog and happy to be here,” Stratton said. “This year there was pressure and people out to get me. They knew I was the champion. I felt the pressure, maybe more so from the coaches than anyone else.”
If Stratton was feeling pressure it will increase heading into next year.
“I want to repeat next year. I just have to work hard like I did this year,” Stratton said.
In between her wins, Stratton anchored Bluffton’s 800 relay to third and 400 relay to seventh.
The 800 team of Kendra Bassitt, Lindsay Bassitt., Kelsey Goldenetz and Stratton finished in 1:43.90.
“We’re never satisfied, but we are happy to be here,” said Kendra Bassitt.
The same quartet ran a 50.52 in the 400 relay.
“I was happy with the relays. Who knows what we could have done if (the Bassitts) weren’t hurt,” Stratton said.
The 800 relay was a trifecta of sorts as three area teams placed. Columbus Grove’s squad of Kim Selhorst, Paige Heffner, Ella Diller and Jaimie Lewis was fifth in 1:44.87. Arlington picked up a seventh in 1:46.76 with Lauren Pepple, Taylor Beck, Hannah Kimmel and Jasmine Foster running.
Three of the Columbus Grove runners, Heffner, Diller and Lewis, later combined with Grace Needler for a third in the 1,600 relay in 3:58.04. Diller ran the second leg and moved the Bulldogs into first, but they slipped back to third and remained there in the final two legs.
“I had so much adrenaline that I could not hold back. I wanted to get up there for the team,” Diller said. “This is amazing. It was not first but we shattered the team record.”
Riverdale’s squad of Shaye Eatherton, Kylie Brown, Vanessa Stewart and Kayla Brown was sixth in the 1,600 relay in 4:04.16.
Another local runner, Liberty-Benton’s Brynn Chaskel, also was nursing a tender left leg after finishing third in the 3,200 run. Chaskel heard something crack within about 40 meters of the race’s finish.
“I had some pain in the foot this week,” said Chaskel, who ran an 11:23.19.
“I’m very happy with thid. I wanted to get on the podium.”
Chaskel was the lone state placer for the Eagles continuing a 26-year streak since Pat Wagner became the girls head coach.
“I just kept my pace and after a mile I went for it,” said Chaskel, who took the lead with three laps to go, but then slid to second and finally third. “I had a lot of adrenaline at that point.”
Kayla Brown was on the awards stand twice for Riverdale. Last year’s state runner-up in the 300 hurdles, she slipped to fourth this year in 45.32 seconds. That race was just before she anchored the 1,600 relay and pulled the Falcons from eighth to sixth.
“I wouldn’t be happy with eighth place (in the relay). I knew we could do better than that, so I wanted to move up for my team,” Brown said.
Ottoville’s Shayla Siefker placed sixth in the 1,600 run in 5:14.53.
Elmwood’s Katie Reiser finished behind Stratton in both sprints. Reiser was fifth in the 100 in 12.85 and sixth in the 200 in 26.02.
Although Reiser didn’t win, she could pick up some advice from Stratton, who didn’t always win foot races when she was younger.
“My cousin (Bluffton graduate Ashley Fields) and I would race at the end of the road,” Stratton said. “She always beat me, though.
“But now I think I can beat her,” said the fastest girl in Division III track.
OTHER AREA RESULTS
1,600 – 15, Ashley Sprunger (P-G) 5:38.06. 800 – 10, Molly Maag (Otto) 2:20.94.
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