By TED RADICK
COLUMBUS — The future looks bright for Northwestern Ohio to continue its strong presence in the girls throwing events.
The present looks pretty good, too.
Four athletes, three of them underclassmen, medaled Friday in the throwing events at the OHSAA Division III Track and Field Championships at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Stadium.
The meet continues today with running event finals beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Division III.
Leipsic junior Holly Averesch and Columbus Grove senior Megan Verhoff started the throwing medal haul by earning spots on the podium in discus.
Averesch sat seventh after the preliminary round of three throws and improved to fifth with a best of 138-9 on her fourth throw.
“I wanted to hit 150 here,” she said, adding that the stiff competition left her wondering if her best preliminary throw of 131-0 would even make the final cut of nine for the finals.
“I was nervous when the girls in the second flight started throwing in the 140s and high 130s,” she said.
Verhoff finished seventh at 132-2.
“I just wanted to make it on the podium today, so that was one goal that I really reached,” she said. “I was just happy to come out strong. It was a beautiful day for it.”
Verhoff holds the Grove school record at 136-1 and was hoping to improve on that, but was pleased to make the medal stand in her first year at the state meet.
“There was no letting down, because this is my senior year,” she said. “I’m all smiles now.”
McComb freshman Molly Leppelmeier wasn’t smiling after failing to make the finals in the discus, and her troubles continued with sub-par throws on her first two shot put attempts.
On the third preliminary throw, though, Leppelmeier hit a 41-6¼ to cruise into the final. She improved to 42-1 and placed third.
“It started out kind of rough. But it ended well,” Leppelmeier said.
Getting off a solid throw with her back to the wall on the third preliminary attempt was a boost in confidence.
“Finally, I could just relax and throw what I knew I could throw,” she said. “It was really a relief to finally just pop one. At that point, I knew I was up on the podium. I just wanted to see what I could do and really go after it.”
“I was really happy with how I did. I would have liked to have PR’ed, but being third as a freshman is unreal.”
Right behind Leppelmeier in fourth place was Columbus Grove sophomore Lynea Diller. Diller threw 41-9¼ to set a new school record.
“Throwing that 41 and beating my school record was one of my main priorities today,” she said. “My throwing coach (Rick Maag) asked me, ‘You’re not going home without that school record, are you?’ and I just made sure I got it.”
Diller was pleased to medal in her initial trip to the state meet.
“Coming here as a sophomore, even if I hadn’t gotten on the podium, just getting to state and being here with all the big dogs was such an awesome experience,” she said. “It’s just the best feeling, seeing all the people from my town who came out to support me. The adrenaline rush, just everything about the state meet was a great experience.”
Continental senior Paige Ordway placed seventh in the long jump at 17-0, breaking her personal record in the process.
“My best was 16-11, but I only jumped that once,” she said. “I usually jump low 16s. It was very surprising, to be honest. I’d already run two races and my legs were kind of tired, but I pulled out a 17 today and that was great.”
Arlington got two state placers in the pole vault as senior Willow Thompson, the defending state champion, was second at 12-0 and junior Jessica Beck seventh at 10-8.
In the running events, Ordway qualified for today’s 300-meter low hurdles final with another PR at 45.81. That included a fairly significant stumble early in the race that slowed her to the eighth-best qualifying time.
“The first hurdle I was too high over, and on second one I about fell over,” she said. “My knee almost gave out on me.
“I almost went down. I finished pretty strong, so it wasn’t too bad.”
Riverdale’s Sarah Hunter ran the sixth-best time (58.70) to advance to today’s 400 final, and Ada’s Brittney Archer finished in 26.08 to make the 200 final.
Archer failed to advance in the 100 prelims earlier Friday after having been eliminated before the final in the 100 and 200 last year.
“I made a promise to my aunt who passed away a couple of months ago that I would make it to the state finals,” Archer said. “When I crossed the finish line, I just knew. It hasn’t hit yet, and when it does I know I’ll cry. I’m just glad I could do it for her.”
Two Columbus Grove relays moved on to the finals. Raiya Flores, Kristin Wynn, Sydney McCluer and Julia Wynn ran a 1:46.24 in the 800 relay to qualify seventh. Flores, Julia Wynn, Linnea Stephens and McCluer had the No.8 prelim time in the 400 relay (50.47).
Other Area Girls Finishes
100 IH — 12, Paige Ordway (Continental) 15.84. 13, Sydney McCluer (Columbus Grove) 16.19.
100 — 12, Brittney Archer (Ada) 12.72.
300 LH — 13, Taylor Mangas (Ottoville) 46.49.
1,600 RELAY — 10, Van Buren (Lauren Wise, Carlee Schmelzer, Rachell Resnik, Bri Lasley) 4:07.51. 12, Ottoville (Taylor Mangas, Karlin Wendeberg, Madison Knodell, Brooke Mangas) 4:07.96. 13, Columbus Grove (Kristin Wynn, Sydney McCluer, Raiya Flores, Julia Wynn) 4:08.61.
DISCUS — 13, Molly Leppelmeier (McComb) 110-5.
PV — 9, Sara Goddard (St. Wendelin) 10-4. 11, Mackenzie Shepherd (Hardin Northern) 10-0.
HJ — 9, Brooke Mangas (Ottoville) 5-2. 12, Natalie Herder (Patrick Henry) 5-0.
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