By David Fong
and Josh Brown
COLUMBUS — A few small adjustments made a big difference for Meredith Haddad.
Haddad — Troy Christian’s junior long jumper — turned in a leap of 16-11.75 feet in the preliminaries … good enough to earn her a spot in the finals, but well short of what she generally jumps.
Given a second chance — and three more jumps — in the finals, Haddad made the most of it, popping a career-best 17-10.75 to jump from sixth place to third place.
“My steps were off in the prelims,” Haddad said. “That was the problem. Going into the finals we worked on my steps, and that really helped a lot. They were only off by a couple of inches.”
By adjusting her steps a couple of inches, Haddad increased her jump by nearly a foot, good enough for third place behind Miami Valley School’s Taylor Middleton (18-4.5) and Fredericktown’s Carolyn Webster (17-11.75).
“It feels so good,” Haddad said of her third-place performance. “I’m so glad and so thankful I had the opportunity to come over here and have this experience. And I’m so happy for Taylor. I know she’s really been trying for first place for a few years now, and she got it. That’s great for her.”
For Haddad, it was her third trip to the podium in as many trips to state. As a freshman, she placed fifth for the Eagles, followed by a fourth-place finish last year as a sophomore.
“I’ve moved up one place every year I’ve been here — that was my goal coming in this year, to move up the podium and do better than I did the past two years. I’ve got one more year left — hopefully I can keep moving up the podium. That’s my goal.”
* Rose Places 5th
Miami East’s Mack Rose was less than pleased with his performance at state a year ago.
And while he turned that into a fifth-place finish in the pole vault this season, earning his first spot on the podium at the D-III state meet, it was still tinged with the tiniest bit of disappointment after he cleared 14-0 and went out at 14-4, two inches short of his PR.
“I’m pretty pleased,” the senior said. “I think I had more left in me, though. I transitioned to a new pole, and I just hadn’t been on that one yet.
“It’s a pretty great way to leave off, placing at state. I just think I had more left.”
“He did well,” Miami East boys coach Steve Karnehm said. “(At 14-4) he was over it, had the height, but he just could’t get clear of the bar.”
Four other vaulters continued on after 14-4, with Rose and one other dropping out at that height. But Rose hadn’t missed a single jump on the day until getting to 14-4, clearing 13-0, 13-6 and even 14-0 with great ease.
“When I went to the longer pole that I’d never been on, it was just stiffer than I anticipated,” Rose said. “And by then, it was my third jump. I should’ve pulled the standards in a little more.”
Still, it was a marked improvement from only clearing 12-6 a year ago and not finishing in the top 10 — and a solid way to end a great career.
“He’s just such a good kid to coach,” Karnehm said. “I’ve been coaching 30 years, and he’s one of the easiest to coach and one of the most teachable kids I’ve had.”
* Buccs Advance
Brandon Magee just isn’t accustomed to seeing what he saw Friday.
“It’s nerve-wracking to run around the corner and not be where you’re used to being,” he said.
Still, the Covington boys 4×100 team of Magee, Shane Straw, Ethan Herron and Ben Miller finished fourth in their heat with a time of 44.48 seconds Friday at the D-III state prelims. And once the second heat was through — the top two in each heat automatically qualify for Saturday’s finals, then the next five best times overall — they were sitting in eighth place and coming back for a shot at the podium.
“We were hoping for a better time,” Magee said. “We just want to get up as high as we can on the podium.”
The relay was actually almost half a second faster than their second-place regional time of 44.87 seconds, but the competition simply ramped up to meet them.
For Miller in his heat of the 300 hurdles, though, the race didn’t go the way he’d hoped —but he’ll still have a chance to improve in the finals.
Miller ran a time of 40.74 seconds, good enough for fourth in his heat and the ninth and final qualifying spot.
“It was an awful race,” Miller said. “I was stuttering, I hit a couple of hurdles on the back end. It wasn’t a smooth race, but I wanted to make the finals.”
It was the same way for all of the other competitors in both heats, actually, save for one — Warren JFK’s Chad Zallow ran a time of 37.12 seconds in the first heat, while everyone else posted 39 seconds or more. And, given Miller’s 40.02 seconds from the regional, the Buccaneer senior has a solid chance to make a move in the finals.
“Oh, yeah. I was surprised at how slow the race was overall,” he said. “If I run my best race tomorrow, I can definitely move up and finish maybe in the top six. I just want to be as high on the podium as I can and collect some more medals.”
The girls 4×200 relay of Shae Robinson, Tori Lyle, Heidi Cron and Breanne Kimmel finished with the 12th-best time and did not reach the finals, running a time of 1:49.14.
* Game of Inches
That’s how close Megan Kinnison’s first throw of the day got her to having three more chances.
The Miami East junior discus thrower let loose a 115-2 on her first attempt at Friday’s D-III state meet, and once her flight was over she was sitting in fifth place — with the top nine moving on to the finals for three more attempts.
She fell to ninth after one attempt by the second flight, and Columbus Grove’s Lyne’a Diller, who had fouled on her first try, popped off a 136-10 to climb the ranks and bump Kinnison to 10th.
But while Kinnison was impressed by the atmosphere and sheer size of the state meet, it didn’t intimidate her while competing.
“Not really,” she said. “I just went out and threw what I normally do and stayed relaxed the whole time. It is a lot different than what I’m used to, though. But I hit a good one on one of my warm-u throws, and it relaxed me.”
The toughest part came while watching the second flight throw, knowing she couldn’t do anything else to improve her standing.
“Yeah, there are some really good throwers here,” she said. “But it was neat to learn from seeing them throw. It already makes me want to get better for next year.”
Riverdale’s Carrol Pauley — the girl who threw 115-5 to earn the last qualifying spot for the finals — climbed all the way up to fourth with a throw of 130-10. Leipsic’s Holly Averesch won with 148-11.
“She did really well,” Miami East throwing coach Levi Karnehm said. “It was her first trip here, and she threw as well as she normally does. She’s already looking at next year. Especially since we were able to come here so she could see so many good throwers. During the regular season, you might see a few girls that can throw in the 110s. By coming here, Megan was able to see what it’s possible for her to do. And she’s the type of person that steps up to the competition.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong. Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.