Local freshmen steal the show at state meet

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Alex Hider

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COLUMBUS — Ellie Ruby hung her head after her final race on day two of the OHSAA State Track Meet. That’s because there was a whole lot of bronze hanging from her neck.

Ruby reached the podium in three separate events on Saturday, finishing fifth in both the long jump and the 100m hurdles. She also earned an eighth-place finish in the 300m hurdles.

“It was really exciting today,” Ruby said. “It’s been a really great experience and I’ve loved every second of it.”

The Pirate freshman’s day began in the sand pits, where she qualified for the long jump finals with a mark of 16-9.75. Though she stepped over the board in her next two attempts and fell short of her mark in her final jump, her qualifying mark held up for a fifth-place finish.

“It was hard to get used to the board,” Ruby said. “But just getting there and being on the podium was great.”

Hours later, Ruby left the blocks clean and set the pace in the 100m hurdle finals. Though she clipped the majority of the hurdles with her trail leg, her fast start propelled her to a time of 14.95 and a fifth-place finish.

“That’s how I’ve always been taught — first to the hurdle,” Ruby said.

Ruby was competing with two former state champions, and was the only underclassman in the field of nine runners.

After a short break, Ruby was back at it again, this time in the 300m hurdle finals. She was assigned to lane eight (the second outermost lane), a position with which she wasn’t comfortable.

“I like being able to catch everyone from the back instead of starting out front,” she said.

Though she fell behind the pack on the back straightaway, Ruby turned on the jets on the home stretch and snagged the last spot on the podium — and her third All-Ohio honor — with a time of 46.01.

“I’m not that strong, so I save my strength for the end of the race,” she said

Ruby says she’ll continue to work on her running and hurdling form over the summer, but first thing’s first: She’s ready for volleyball season in the fall and basketball season in the winter.

Portsmouth freshman Lynsey Shipley barely snuck in to the 400m dash final on Friday with a time of 58.97. On Saturday, she shocked the field and took home third place, shaving an entire second-and-a-half off of her qualifying time.

After a pressure-packed day one of three qualifying races, Shipley felt like she had nothing to lose in Saturday’s final.

“I just went out there and did my best,” she said.

Like Ruby, Shipley was placed in lane eight for her final race. Her trick for overcoming the disadvantage was simple.

“I just booked it,” she said.

Shipley’s time of 57.44 broke her own school record and was the second school record she’s broken over the weekend. Her time of 25.69 in Friday’s 200m preliminaries was also a Trojan record.

Earlier in the week, Portsmouth girls track coach Arthur Lard said that Shipley favored shorter sprints over longer runs like the 400m. But after a record-breaking performance, her attitude is beginning to change.

“I like them all now,” she laughed.

Piketon’s Seth Farmer capped his illustrious high school running career with a fifth-place finish in the 1600m run. The senior crossed the line with a time of 4:24.58.

Farmer’s All-Ohio performance in the mile is just the latest in his collection. Farmer made the podium on Friday as part of Piketon’s eighth-place finish in the 3200m relay, and finished 10th earlier this season in the state cross-country race.

Fellow Redstreak Maddy Reed also found the podium on Saturday, placing fifth in the high jump. Saturday marked Reed’s second trip to the state meet in just her second year of competition.

“She did good, I’m proud of her,” Piketon vaulting coach Chuck Reed said. “She did really good for only having two-and-a-half years of experience. I would guess most of these kids here have four or five years of experience.”

Reed hoped to match her personal best of 11 feet, but she only managed to clear the bar at 10-8.

“It just wasn’t our day,” Reed said.

Reed will continue her vaulting career next season at the collegiate level, when she joins the Ohio Northern track team.

All five Piketon athletes that competed at this year’s state meet reached the podium and earned All-Ohio honors.

Minford’s Mason Harris saw his junior season come to a close after failing to clear 6-0 in the high jump. Harris finished as the state’s 16th-best jumper.

“I felt great today, I just messed up my technique,” Harris said.

Harris clipped the bar in each of his three attempts, ending his day before he could attempt to match his personal best of 6-2. Next season as a senior, he hopes to improve his personal best to 6-8 and reach the podium.

“I should be back next year,” he said.

Though it may have ended in disappointment, Harris played a vital part in Minford’s third straight SOC track championship this season. With a rash of untimely injuries, the Falcons leaned heavily on their junior jumper for crucial team points in postseason meets.

“If you’re going to have your season end, where else would you rather have it end than the state meet?” Minford track coach Jesse Ruby said. “It’s a great acheivement, in and of itself.”

Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter

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