AMHERST – AnneMarie Moses hadn’t experienced a lot of disappointment in her pole vaulting career. Until, that is, the regional track and field meet last year.
As a sophomore, Moses had qualified for the state meet so, when she returned to the regional as a junior, already owning the program pole vaulting record twice over, a return trip to the state meet was the clear expectation.
But an uncharacteristic off-day on the pole resulted in disappointing fifth-place regional finish and missing out on a state berth.
Friday night, at the second day of the Division 1 Northwest Regional Meet, Moses returned to site of her disappointment at Amherst Steele High School and ensured history did not repeat itself.
Moses easily cleared the bar on her first five heights, then, on her third attempt cleared 12 feet, just three inches shy of her own Ross record. She placed second in the event and punched her return ticket to Columbus for the state meet.
“It’s really exciting,” Moses said. “As a senior, that was my main goal this year to make it back to the state meet after last year. I’m really exciting to go down there.
“I definitely used (last year) as motivation,” she added. “After last year, I was in such a bad spot after regionals. All I wanted to do was go out there and pole vault and fix all the little things. This year, I tried to go out there and have fun and try not to think about it as much.”
Moses’ runner-up finish in the pole vault was the highest finish of the meet for the Ross program, which is sending seven athletes in six events to the state meet.
For Moses, next weekend’s competition will serve as the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. The senior has signed to continue her pole vaulting career at Ohio State University, home of the state meet. So her final competition representing Ross will take place in the stadium she’ll soon call home as a Buckeye.
“I’m so excited,” Moses said. “I think I’m just going to out there and have fun, honestly. I’m going to be seeded pretty decent, I think. My sophomore year I didn’t place very high so I’m just going to do down and do as good as I can. Last time as a Little Giant.”
Personal-record sends Lindsey to state
As soon as she took off into the air, Jazzele Lindsey knew this jump was different.
“I felt it in my drive phase, when my knee came off the step board, I felt it,” Lindsey said. “It’s the best jump I’ve ever done.”
With her second attempt in the preliminary round of the long jump, Lindsey leapt a distance of 17 feet, 5.75 inches, beating her previous personal-best jump by three inches.
Neither on her third jump nor in her three final-round jumps did she again break 17 feet, but she didn’t have to. Her best leap was enough to secure a fourth-place finish in the competition and qualify the senior to her first state meet berth.
“Today I felt really amped up and ready to be here,” she said.
The long jump won’t be the extent of Lindsey’s state meet duties, however.
She, along with Nadia Kirksey, Briana Morrisette, and Jadyn Rozzell placed fourth in the 4×100 relay, clocking a time of 49.15, and sending them on to Columbus as well.
“It’s going to be amazing to be out there with the relay team we have now, I feel like we can accomplish a lot while we’re there,” Lindsey said. “I’ll try not to (nerves) get to me, I’ll try to keep my team together and not think about it, it’s just another race.”
Lindsey credited her teammates for helping her get over the disappointment she experienced as part of the 4×200 relay which, though seeded second in the final, ran four seconds slower and finished seventh.
“It feels great knowing my team encouraged me to keep going after that 4×2, which wasn’t the greatest,” she said. “They picked me back up.”
Work pays off for Watson
It all came down to one jump of Sarah Watson.
Competing in the high jump on the first night of the regional, it was a simple proposition. Clear her third, and final, attempt at 5 feet, 2 inches and she’d clinch a place at the state meet. Miss it and her season would be over as she’d finish fifth behind Berea-Midpar’s Faith Kingsley, who had fewer misses through the competition.
But like the heights of 5 feet and 5-1, which Watson cleared on her third attempt, she sailed over the bar at 5-2 on her final try. As she landed on the mat and saw the bar remain in place, knowing her season continued, was almost too much for Watson to wrap her mind around.
“It was inexplainable. It was mental numbness,” Watson said. “I was like ‘Oh my goodness,’ I’ve put five years into this sport and it’s a big accomplishment.”
At the start of the season, the prospect of a Lady Giant high jumper qualifying for the state meet seemed like a foregone conclusion. Senior Olivia DeRodes had done so for the past two years and a third trip seemed a sure thing. But a persistent back injury, and not wanting to risk a swim scholarship to University of Akron already in her back pocket, DeRodes’ season ended early, leaving Watson as Ross’ go-to high jumper.
“It’s crazy. It’s something I’d always hoped for, but I didn’t think would ever come true, especially this year,” Watson said. “It was a struggle. I got 5-2 on my third attempt. I didn’t think I was going to make it, and that’s what it took to get in.”
Watson will not only be competing for the first time at the state meet but it will be the first time she’s been to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. She said she doesn’t anticipate being nervous since she’ll have nothing to lose.
“It’ll be one of the biggest moments of my life, probably,” Watson said. “I’m just there to shine. I don’t have to prove anything anymore. Just hoping for 5-4.”
Burling just needs one throw
Throwing coach Travis Bates told Jason Burling to get on the board with a good throw to begin the shot put competition and go from there.
Burling did just that, launching the shot put a distance of 53 feet, 2 inches. The rest of his day, however, had its frustrations as Burling’s final five throws – two in the preliminary round and all three final-round throws – all scratched due to fouls from stepping out of the ring in his follow-through.
Despite his missteps, his one throw proved to be enough to place him fourth and send him on to Columbus.
“I came out of warmups and I hit a big one,” Burling said. “I tried to hit another big one and it just didn’t happen.
“I can fix it,” he said of his fouls. “I need to get my left leg down faster, and get my right leg sweeping out the back and keeping my balance throughout the whole ring.”
Bates said he believes Burling can earn himself a place on the podium because his foul issues are correctable, but he has to sharpen his practice habits.
“It’s how he finishes the throw, and taking his eyes off the shot put instead of watching it,” Bates said. “It’s going to land – he doesn’t have to watch it land. He’s had an issue with that all year and he practices that, so it’s got to stop.
“He’s got three or five more feet left in him now,” Bates said. “He had a couple of 56 footers warming up. He’s ready to throw one far. He’s just got to put it together when it counts, not in warmup.”
On Wednesday, Burling placed fifth in the discus throw, reaching a distance of 156-04. However, in addition to the top four placers from each of the four regionals automatically qualifying, the state meet is also accepting the top two distances that did not place in the top four of the respective regionals, of which Burling is one, earning him a berth in the state competition.
Close but not quite
Ross had a couple near-misses from sending on a larger delegation to the state meet.
Kimora Rapp entered the final of the 400 dash as the 8 seed. Coaches told her she’d have to run in the 58-second range to place in the top four.
Rapp did what she was asked. She clocked a time of 58.98 seconds, but it placed her sixth, just 0.34 seconds out of fourth and a trip to the state meet.
Perhaps the most dramatic finish came in the girls 800 were McKela Elder, with about 30 meters to go was battling for the fourth, and final, state qualifying place. But in the race’s closing moments, her muscles tightened. She slowed and nearly lost her footing. As she battled to maintain her balance, she was passed in the final steps before the finish line to place eighth in a time of 2:19.98.
Said coach John Elder: “Kimora Rapp…we told her ‘You have to run 58 if you want to make it out, and she ran 58 and she got sixth. She did all she could. McKela Elder did all she could, she left it out there. The 4×2 is extremely disappointed, because they’re (thinking) ‘Would have, could have, should have,’ but I don’t think McKela is disappointed because she couldn’t have ran any harder. She knows that.
“Zach Edmonds (who placed 10th in the 1600) couldn’t have run any better, for a kid to run 4:50 last year in the mile, now running 4:25? He couldn’t have done any better.”
DIVISION I NORTHWEST REGIONAL
Podium finishers, state qualifiers in bold
Team score: Fremont Ross finished tied with for eighth in the regional with 29 points.
400 Dash: Kimora Rapp, 6th, 58.98
800 Run: McKela Elder, 8th, 2:19.04
4×100 Relay: Nadia Kirksey, Briana Morrisette, Jazzele Lindsey, Jaydn Rozzell, 4th, 49.15
4×200 Relay: Kimora Rapp, Ashanti Elkins, Jazzele Lindsey, Briana Morrisette, 7th, 1:47.58
High Jump: Sarah Watson, 4th, 5-02.00
Pole Vault: AnneMarie Moses, 2nd, 12-00.00
Long Jump: Jazzele Lindsey, 4th, 17-05.75
Shot Put: Jason Burling, 4th, 53-02.00
Discus: Jason Burling, 5th, 156-04