COLUMBUS — After finishing 12th last year at state in the 800 relay, this year’s Carey girls redeemed themselves by qualifying seventh after the preliminary round at the Division III track and field meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Returning from last year’s squad are senior Oriana Billock and sophomores Lauren Wenner and Gwen Wentling, while newcomer and freshman Amber Spurlock not only is part of the team, but anchors it.
In heat two of a downpour, the team was mostly worried about about keeping the baton dry so the ever-important handoffs were smooth.
“I had it kind of shoved in my shirt a little bit to keep it dry as well as my hands so I could grip it, but it didn’t help much,” first-leg runner Billock said. “I just held on.”
Running in lane 2, Billock got the Blue Devils off to a good start and soon handed off to Wenner, who also tried everything to keep her hands dry to receive the baton.
“I was drying my hands off by rubbing my stomach trying to create some heat,” Wenner said.
After the first lap, Wenner handed off to Wentling, who came around to the backstretch in the top four of race.
As a freshman on the big stage, Spurlock received some advise from her teammates.
“Just try not to freak out and keep your head on,” Wenner said.
“It’s not as bad as regionals, which is twice as hard,” Billock said. “Here, you can relax a little bit. We’ve made it, now we just have finals, which is not a big deal.”
Despite the poetic words of wisdom from her partners, Spurlock was still a little nervous as she was about to begin the final leg.
“I’m thinking that if I don’t make it to finals, it’s going to be my fault,” she said.
Well nothing was her fault as she not only put distance between herself and New Middleton Springfield, but closed in on and finished neck-and-neck with Delphos Jefferson.
The Bearcats took third place in the heat with a time of 1:48.37, while Carey placed fourth with 1:48.38.
As they waited in the infield awaiting their fate, they felt confident about placing fourth in their heat, and nearly third, as the top two of each heat and the next five overall qualify for Saturday’s finals.
As the results were announced, they heard they qualified seventh overall.
“It feels pretty good because we’re not last; we still have some teams behind us,” Wenner said. “We still have potential to get higher and work our way up, rather than start up and work our way down.”
The Blue Devils get their chance to move up in the final standings as they compete at 9:45 a.m. today.
800 relay: 1. Garfield Heights Trinity, 1:46.44; 2. North College Hill, 1:46.81; 3. Spencerville, 1:47.65; 4. Canton Central Catholic, 1:47.71; 5. Versailles, 1:47.75; 6. Delphos Jefferson, 1:48.37; 7. Carey, 1:48.38; 8. Cuyahoga Heights, 1:48.69; 9. Bluffton, 1:49.01.
By PATRICK MASSARA