WESTERVILLE — Colonel Crawford junior Katie Ruffener helped her track and field team claim a sixth-place finish in the Division III state meet, hosted by Westerville North on Friday and Saturday.
The Lady Eagles finished with 20 points, with 17 coming from Ruffener on Saturday after teammate Liv Krassow scored three by placing sixth in the high jump on Friday.
She scored eight points in the morning session Saturday by placing second in the long jump. Her third jump in the prelims went 17 feet, 4.5 inches, which had her in first place until Mackenzie Hartman of Seven Hills tallied a leap of 17 feet, 8.75 inches. While she would improve on her performance with her final jump of 17 feet, 4.75 inches, she would not be able to equal Hartman’s leap and finished second.
The performance was a bit disappointing to Ruffener, as she had gone 18 feet, 3.5 inches in winning her regional the previous week — a distance that made her the top-seeded jumper in the competition. She noted that after testing the board, she was pretty sure she wouldn’t be able to equal her regional jump.
“The facility wasn’t really the best place for that,” she said. “It wasn’t good.”
One thing she was expecting was a strong challenge from Hartman.
“I’ve known Mackenzie for a while, so I knew she’d bring something good,” said Ruffener.
On Friday, the Eagle athlete advanced to the finals of both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. In Saturday’s finals, she took fourth in the 100 with a time of 15.19 and fifth in the 300 in 45.37. Both events were won by Hartman, who was a three-time winner in the state meet along with Mount Gilead’s Allison Johnson.
“It wasn’t the day I expected,” she said. “But a three-time All-Ohioan, I can live with that.”
As a junior, Ruffener is excited about the potential her senior year will bring. One thing she’s hoping for is the state meet moving back to Columbus’ Jesse Owens Stadium — both for the facilities and the atmosphere.
“I felt it (the facilities) could have been better, but it is what it is,” she said. “This was not the facility I was hoping for. Jesse Owens has a lot better atmosphere. All the divisions and a lot more people. It’s just bigger.”
As for her performance, her goal is simple: continue to improve in order to wind up on top of the podium.
“Keep training, work harder and break my own records,” she said.
Krassow was able to make the podium by virtue of placing sixth in the high jump on Friday. She cleared 5 feet on her first try and 5 feet, 2 inches on her second attempt, but couldn’t get over the bar at 5 feet, 4 inches. A total of five girls went out on that height, with the Eagle athlete placing second among those to finish sixth overall. The event was won by Springfield Central Catholic junior Mallory Mullen, who set a new state meet record of 5 feet, 10.25 inches.
“I felt pretty good at first,” she said. “Then I got a little nervous.”
With another year of high school left, Krassow, who won her regional meet with an effort of 5 feet, 6.25 inches, is hoping to be better prepared for the atmosphere of the state meet, as she felt the moment affected her.
“It’s definitely nerve-racking,” she said. “I want to more mentally prepare myself.”
The Eagle boys finished with eight points, as junior Carter Valentine placed third in the high jump with a height of 6 feet, 4 inches.
He was perfect on each of the five heights he cleared before going out of the competition, which was won by Layne Sarver of Tri-Village, at the winning height of 6 feet, 5 inches. That efficiency was to Valentine’s benefit, as two other jumpers went out at 6 feet, 5 inches, but as the only one without any prior misses, he got the highest spot on the podium.
“For sure,” he said. “Starting out with no misses is great.”
As was finishing high on the podium in the state meet.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “Out here, everyone is a great jumper. It kind of got hotter near the end, but it was a nice day.”
Valentine has high hopes for improving his placement next year, saying that he’ll be focusing on track and field for his senior year and won’t also be competing in AAU basketball.
“Next year, I’ll be focusing on track with no basketball, so hopefully, it’ll be a better year. I won’t have AAU during track season.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS.