After tying for seventh in the Division III pole vault at the state track and field meet last year, Colonel Crawford’s Callie Ruffener moved all the way to the top of the podium to close out her senior year.
Ruffener overcame some early struggles to eventually clear 12’4” to finish first in the event on Friday. After entering the competition at 10’6”, she cleared that height, but then needed three tries to get past 11’.
“It took three jumps at 11’,” she said. “I just had to sit back and say this was my chance at a state title.”
After that, she cleared 11’4” on her first try and 11’8” on the second attempt. It then took three tries to get over 12’, but she was able to get past 12’4” on the second attempt, while the other two competitors still alive by that point bowed out on that height.
“When I got to 12’, I told myself I had to clear it,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d have it (the title) until when I cleared 12’4”.
By winning the state title, Ruffener succeeded in meeting a goal she’d set before the season.
“At the beginning, I said my goal for indoor and outdoor track was to be a state champ,” she said.
Ruffener also placed in another event, as she teamed with Alyssa Spears, Kendra Koge and Kirsten Viers to place sixth in the 400-meter relay. The quartet advanced to the finals by placing eighth in Friday’s semifinal heats with a time of 51.21. On Saturday, they improved their time to 51.0, which moved them up two spots.
“We stretched out the first two handoffs a bit and that helped,” she said. “It’s super-exciting. I never thought the 4-by-1 would be my last race.”
Ruffener added that it helped to only have one event to focus on during Saturday’s competition.
“It was definitely a lot easier to focus on the 4-by-1,” she said. “Yesterday, I was focused on it, but I was more worried about the pole vault.”
Also competing in the state meet was Viers in the 300-meter hurdles. She finished 15th in the semifinals with a time of 48.07.
The girls’ team finished with 13 points to finish in a tie for 16th place, while the boys tied for 19th with 10 points. Highlighting their performance was a second-place finish by Chad Johnson in the 3200. The sophomore finished the race in 9:20.51. He led most of the way, until getting passed by Fisher Catholic’s Aaron Wood on the last lap.
“I took the lead and wanted to push the pace,” he said. “I didn’t want everyone there at the finish. On the last lap, I knew Aaron Wood was there and tried to keep up, but his kick was better.”
Johnson was both happy with his finish and looking forward to potential state championships in the future after the race.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “Last year, I was seventh and I had a goal for the top three, which I thought was pushing it. I’m ready for a state championship next year and my senior year. I’m really going to focus on this event.”
Also placing was senior Owen Adams in the long jump. He placed seventh with a top effort of 20’9.25”, but admitted afterwards he was a bit disappointed in his performance, as he was hoping to at least equal his regional leap of 21’1.75”.
“It’s cool — I wanted to do better, but podium is podium,” he said. “I wasn’t too pleased. I didn’t jump as good as I have, but you’re not going to jump your best every day. I wanted to go out with a 21’.
The Wynford boys track and field team placed third with 31 points at the Division III state meet.
The 100 meter relay team of Cole Fortner, Robbie Miller, Alizhah Watson and Tony Watson were state champs after winning with a finished time of 43.31 — 0.28 seconds faster than the runner-up.
The 200 meter relay team of Fortner, Miller, Tony and Alizhah finished second in 1:30.02 minutes.
Additionally, Fortner placed second in the 100 meter dash in 11.08 seconds and fourth in the 200 meter dash with a time of 22.49.
Brandon Klein contributed to this report.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS