By Jamie Baker
For The Review Times
COLUMBUS -- The day started for St. Wendelin’s Jaunna Gase with a pair of almosts.
It ended with a shiny OHSAA state meet medal dangling around her neck.
Not too shabby for a sophomore making her first state meet appearance
Gase just missed grabbing spots in the Division III girls 100 intermediate and 300 low hurdles finals but added a seventh place finish in the long jump to highlight the day for local athletes on the first day of the OHSAA state track and field championships at Jesse Owens Stadium.
In addition, Lakota’s Cami Wasserman earned her third all-Ohio award in the Division III girls pole vault with a fourth place finish for the Raiders.
Gase, St. Wendelin’s first female state qualifier since 2000, was fifth in her heats of both the 100 (15.85) and 300 hurdles (47.48). She rebounded nicely for a seventh place finish in the long jump with a leap of 16-6.
Gase used one simple word to describe her experience.
“Amazing,“ she said. “It’s so big there are so many people watching and it’s crazy fast.
“I could have done better but I faulted on my last two jumps and they were pretty good. I’m happy with what I got today because I have two more years.”
Wasserman, meanwhile, capped a stellar career for the Raiders as a pole vaulter Friday afternoon.
The Kent State-bound standout finished fourth for the Raiders with a school record.
“I’m happy with how I did and there’s nothing I can do about how my competition does,“ Wasserman said.
“When you are going to improve here is the best time to do it.”
Wasserman was 10th at state as a freshman, fifth as a sophomore and third last season as a junior. She had her best day yet at state as she broke Lakota’s school record with a jump of 11-4 on a hot and windy day in Columbus.
Troy Christian senior Mackenzie Wills broke the Division III state record with a winning jump of 12-2.
“It was tough competition. But I like good competition because it only makes me better,” Wasserman said.
Elmwood’s Katie Reiser and Curtis Smithey put together solid efforts on the track to earn spots in the Division III track finals which get underway Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.
Reiser rolled to the finals in both the girls 100- and 200-meter dashes. She qualified with the sixth-fastest time in the 100 (12.91) and has the fifth-best time in the 200 (26.38).
Reiser didn’t post her best times of the season, but few runners did in Friday’s stifling heat and strong winds.
“It was tough today. It’s awfully hot and my feet are really burning right now,” Reiser said. “It isn’t about time, I’m running tomorrow and that’s what’s most important.”
Smithey, a returning state placer in the 400, earned a spot in the finals in his specialty for the second straight year.
He posted the second-fastest qualifying time in the 400 (49.04). He just missed a spot in the 200 finals as he finished fifth in his heat with a time of 23.14 seconds. Smithey, Shannon Stewart, Jordan Briggs and Thor Bottesch missed qualifying for the finals in the 1,600 relay as they posted a preliminary time of 3:29.74.
Old Fort’s Alexa Stults is also slated to compete today in the girls 1,600-meter run.
In other action Friday, three local athletes ran in hurdles races, but failed to qualify for Saturday's finals.
Lakota's Jacob Smith had the 10th fastest time in the 110 hurdles with a time of 15.62. Justin Gregg of Old Fort was 13th in 16.13.
In the 300 hurdles, New Riegel's Michael Reinhart ran a 42.13, which was the 13th fastest time.
In the field events, two jumpers just failed to make the awards stand.
Van Buren's Jeremy Simon was ninth in the pole vault with a leap of 13-feet. Lakota's Roger Guerra tied for 12th place in the high jump at 6-2.