PICKERINGTON — For Haidyn Wamsley, in more ways than one, her decorated track and field career at Northwest High School indeed ended up being three times as nice.
That’s because Wamsley — the three-year standout who was a double qualifier for the coveted state meet as a sophomore — was a triple qualifier for this season’s state girls competition, and ultimately appeared on the Division II awards podium all three times.
Wamsley was fifth in two events — the high jump from Friday and the 100m hurdles on Saturday —while securing seventh-place in the long jump, after advancing to the state in that event thanks to the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s wildcard creation of at-large selections.
As a result, Wamsley won the Lady Mohawks 10 team points —as the OHSAA’s Division II state meet for 2021 took place at sunbaked but jam-packed Pickerington North High School.
Wamsley was joined in the Division II competition by three Wheelersburg Lady Pirate seniors —including two in the same events as her.
They were Lauren Jolly in BOTH the semifinals AND finals of the 100m hurdles, as Jolly joined her on the podium and placed seventh.
On Friday, Wheelersburg’s Maddie Gill —at an-large selection in the high jump by finishing fifth in the Region 7 meet —garnered an impressive fourth-place performance, making good on that at-large spot, which Wamsley did in the long jump.
Two years ago, Wamsley was actually the Division II state runner-up in the high jump, clearing the bar at five feet and six inches while she also ran the 100m hurdles in the state semifinals that day.
She likely would have been a return state qualifier last season, but unfortunately the 2020 spring sports seasons were canceled because of the coronavirus threat.
Still, as a senior, she indeed made the most of her second — and final — state appearance.
She graduates from Northwest with four track and field girls records in her pocket — in the high jump (5-7 1/4), the long jump (17-4 1/4), the 100m hurdles (15.23) and the pole vault (seven feet and six inches).
She was the Southeast District champion in the two jumping events — hitting 17 feet and four inches in the long jump and setting a new district meet record in the high jump with that 5-7 and one-quarter.
“The state meet two years ago, I was all new to it and it was a new thing. This year, I felt more prepared, like I knew what was going on and what was going to happen,” said Wamsley. “These four years here, I just worked hard to improve every single year and get new PRs.”
Although she didn’t accomplish any new personal records at the state, taking home three all-Ohio medals will have to suffice instead.
The top eight in each event at the state not only earn team points, but secure a place on the awards podium — plus take home all-Ohio accolades.
After qualifying for the finals from Friday’s semifinals in the 100m hurdles, Wamsley ran a repeat 15.50 seconds in Saturday’s state championship race.
She trailed only Odessa Smith of Morgan (15.37), Amelia Mizelle of Oak Harbor (15.32), Karah Henderson of Gilmour Academy (15.22) and state champion Damya Barker of Akron Buchtel (14.75).
Wamsley believed her hurdles race was her “best event” of the three in which she qualified for.
“I was seeded seventh and I ended up bumping up two places in the end,” she said.
In the high jump from Friday, Wamsley cleared 5-0, 5-2 and 5-3 on her first of three allotted attempts at each height — then missed her first but made her second attempt at 5-4.
Both her and Gill cleared 5-4, but Gill gained the tiebreaker and the fourth-place spot when she made that height on her first attempt —and neither cleared 5-5.
Sydney Koker of Johnstown Northridge captured the state high jump championship at 5-7, followed by runner-up Jenna Young of Brooklyn at 5-6 and third-place Juliette Laracuente of Marengo Highland at 5-5.
Speaking of Laracuente, she captured the long jump state title with a best jump of six at exactly three-fourths of an inch shy of an even 18 feet.
Wamsley, with a leap of 17 feet and one-and-a-half inches on her first of three preliminary jumps, made that mark hold up for seventh place.
Each long jumper gets three prelim jumps, as the nine finalists from two flights of nine get three attempts in the finals.
Wamsley was sixth at 16-2 and Smith fifth at 16-3 in the Region 7 meet, but both benefited from the at-large selections — especially Wamsley.
After her 17-1 1/2, she jumped anywhere from 16 feet and seven inches to 16 feet and 11 and one-half inches on her final five.
Wamsley will now continue her volleyball AND track and field careers, in particular jumping events on the track, right in Scioto County and at Shawnee State University.
Speaking of making the jump —literally and figuratively — from an at-large honoree to a podium placer, Gill actually needed her third and final try to successfully clear the starting height of five feet.
But then the next two heights — at 5-2 and 5-3 — she cleared on the second attempt, before finally hitting her previous personal-best at 5-4 with one single solitary leap.
Hence, she finished fourth —most likely to the surprise of most observers, including herself.
“After the regional, I thought I was done. I didn’t think I was going to have to put my spikes on again. But I made it (to state), had a good day jumping today, and it’s just crazy to think about,” said Gill. “I still can’t believe it, but I am excited about it.”
Wheelersburg girls track and field head coach Tom Kaskey concurred.
“Maddie (Gill) is an incredible student- athlete that will be missed. She has now competed in state championships five different times and is an ultra-competitor. She knew she could perform better after regionals, and we were so excited for her to get an at-large spot at state. She was so calm and focused going into the meet that I knew she was going to perform her best,” said the coach. “She matched her career-best with her 5-4 jump on the biggest stage and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Gill, a four-time girls tennis state tournament qualifier including as a singles player in her senior season, goes on now to Georgetown (Ky.) College —and will focus exclusively on that sport.
Meanwhile, her teammate Jolly —like Wamsley —will be a two-sport student-athlete in college, and in volleyball AND track and field for the University of Rio Grande.
She qualified for the Region 7 meet in four events (100m hurdles, 300m hurdles, long jump and 200 dash) and placed in three, ultimately advancing to the state in the 100m hurdles — where she finished seventh in 16.12.
“What got me to the finals was me just running my race during the semifinal, then in the finals, I didn’t have a good start but I still did my best with a bad start. Over the years at ‘Burg, my coaches have told me over and over that the only way to achieve your goal is to work hard,” said Jolly. “I think that is the biggest thing that has got me to where I am. I was very blessed to have multiple coaches that would help in any way I needed and I had a super-supportive team.”
Behind Wamsley was Jolly, freshman Aaliyah Banks of Akron Buchtel in 15.92 (sixth) and senior Hannah Clifford of John Glenn in 16.36 (eighth).
Jolly was appearing at her third and final state meet, as she was a member of the Lady Pirates’ qualifying 4x100m relay team as a freshman —followed by being part of the 4x100m and 4x200m quartets as a sophomore.
“Lauren had the goal of making it to state all year and was not going to be denied. No one works harder than Lauren. She puts so much extra work in and has deserved all of her successes at Wheelersburg,” said Kaskey. “She had an amazing career in three sports and will continue two of them at Rio Grande. She will be missed as an athlete, but even more so as a person.”
The third Lady Pirate senior to qualify for the state meet, Justus Steward, placed 13th out of 18 individuals in the discus throw — with a best toss of 110 feet and nine inches.
She threw 105 feet and five inches on her first throw, and fouled on her final attempt.
A complete list of results from the Division II state meet can be found at www.baumspage.com.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved