By TED RADICK
COLUMBUS — Ottawa-Glandorf’s Melissa Knott wasn’t sure about much as track and field practice began back on March 7.
Not sure about times and places, but whether she’d even be able to compete.
Knott suffered multiple fractures in her foot last summer in a swimming pool mishap. Six broken bones in her right foot cast doubts on her senior season.
Knott capped that season and her prep career in style at Saturday’s OHSAA Division II track and field championships with a third-place finish in the girls 100 intermediate hurdles in a personal record 14.72.
“I am beyond happy, especially since early in the season I didn’t know if I’d be able to run,” Knott said. “I came into the season just getting off of a broken foot. It’s just a blessing to be here.”
Knott ticked off two PRs at the state meet. She entered with a best of 14.95, ran a 14.85 in Friday’s preliminary race and bettered that again Saturday.
“I couldn’t be happier, and this is a great way to end my senior year,” she said. “Coming in yesterday I was seeded fifth, and coming in today I was seeded fourth. I got third, and the competition definitely helps push you.”
Knott was good to go from the beginning of the regular season in late March.
“Our first meet was just a small meet at Elida,” she said. “I ran and got first, and my time was good. I just stopped and went to my mom and started crying just because of the fact that I was able to run. I got that weight off my shoulders and it was just amazing.”
Upper Sandusky senior Shane Pack had the best individual finish of area Division II athletes with a second in the discus at 159-8.
Pack and his fellow competitors were essentially battling for second behind Napoleon’s Sam Meece. Meece won state last year, exceeded the 200-foot mark earlier this spring and defended his title with a toss of 183-6 Saturday. Meece, a Cincinnati signee, also won Friday’s shot put at 59-3/4.
“Sam’s a good kid, he’s a very good thrower and I can’t wait to see what he does in college,” Pack said.
“It was pretty cool to be able to get second. It makes me feel really good about where I’ve been and where I’ve come.”
Pack was seventh in the discus last year and was pleased to jump so many spots on the podium this season.
“Track, for me, is by far my favorite sport and just to be able to come down here and compete and do what I love is great,” he said. “To see the hard work pay off is great.”
Liberty-Benton’s Justin Risner earned all-Ohio honors in both hurdles races. He was eighth in the 110 highs in 15.20 and fifth in the 300 intermediates in 39.43.
“This year I made it my goal just to get here, so the fact that I made it on the podium, I’m pretty happy about it,” Risner said. “Coming into the 110s, I wanted to get onto the podium so when I placed eighth I wasn’t too upset.”
Risner set a personal record on 15.07 in Friday’s prelims.
“I would have liked to PR, but it was a good day,” he said. “It kind of motivated me to run harder in the 300 hurdles.”
Risner had a personal best of 39.52 entering the 300 final, so taking nearly a tenth of a second off that made for a successful day.
“I PRed, I was trying to catch the school record but I was a bit off,” he said. “Coach (Jack) Quisno has worked with me in the 300 specifically all year, his goal is to help me get into the 38s next year.”
Risner’s teammate, Will Poling, had a fifth-place finish in the high jump at 6-3. Like Risner, Poling was making his first trip to state. This, though, was Poling’s first year of track and field as a junior.
“A lot of my friends asked me to come out to help with the relays,” Poling said. “I thought I’d do it to try and help them get down here. I did it mainly to be with my friends.”
Poling found a signature event in the high jump, cleared a personal best 6-2 several times during the season and made it to state.
Poling’s regional jump of 6-2 had him looking up at a lot of the other jumps of his competitors.
“I came in tied for last, actually,” he said. “I knew I just needed to clear the shorter heights without any misses, and that would put me in a good place to get up there. I felt really good today. I’ve been working a lot on my bend, because I hit the bar a lot with my butt.”
Jumping in front of a large group of spectators didn’t intimidate Poling in his first trip to Jesse Owens Stadium.
“I like playing in front of a big crowd in football and basketball, so it’s kind of the same here,” he said. “I think it made me jump better. It was a beautiful day to jump.”
Liberty-Benton brought six athletes, boys and girls, to the state meet. The girls 3,200 relay was sixth Friday, and Poling and Risner placed Saturday.
“Everyone who came left with a medal,” Risner said. “I’m pretty happy about that.”
Dayton Dunbar won the Division II boys title with 33 points, ahead of Warrensville Heights (30) and Meadowdale (28). Liberty-Benton tied for 22nd with 9 points, and Upper Sandusky tied for 26th with 8 points.
Beachwood won girls team crown with 35 points, ahead of Carrollton (29) and Orrville (28). Ottawa-Glandorf tied for 36th with 6 points and defending state champion Liberty-Benton tied for 57th with 3 points.
OTHER AREA FINISHES
800 — 10, Leah Recker (Liberty-Benton) 2:20.14.
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State Track: Knott returns from injury to medal
By TED RADICK