Her final trip to the state track and field meet turned out to be a memorable one for Highland senior Juliette Laracuente-Huebner and the Lady Scots program.
Laracuente-Huebner delivered a performance that would be directly compared to that of Jesse Owens 90 years ago. Back then, Owens won all four events he competed in, setting records in all of them. The Scot senior also went four for four and, set a pair of records and would have had a third if not for her winning time in the 100 hurdles being determined to be wind-aided.
Not only did she win all four of her events, but the 40 points she amassed proved sufficient enough for her to single-handedly earned the runner-up team trophy for Division II.
“I told her, I’m speechless,” said head coach Chip Wendt. “I have no words for a performance like that. For that to happen is unbelievable. I hope we can get a banner in the gym because it’s a team trophy. There’s never been an individual thing in there, but this is a team trophy.”
Laracuente-Huebner opened her meet on Friday with her first record-setting performance. Competing in the high jump, where she’d finished third in the state the past two years, she was perfect until everyone else in the field had been eliminated. Going for a Division II record of 5’10.75”, she missed twice, but cleared it on the third try. While she was unsuccessful in her attempt to clear 6’, she had her first championship and a new Division II record.
“It means a lot,” she said. “Every year I come in and I’m very hungry for the state title in the high jump. It’s just such a tough competition with Karis (Willow of Liberty Benton) and Allison (Klinefelter of Columbus Academy) and all those girls who even made it here. They all popped up some great numbers this season and popped up some great numbers today. That pressure was real. It has been for the past three years, so I’m very glad I got my chance up there and the top of the podium.”
She added that, even though she didn’t have a miss until her record-setting height, it wasn’t easy. She clipped the bar numerous times, but not hard enough to knock it off and give her a miss.
“Those first few heights, it was pretty scary,” she said. “I kept hitting it. I got very lucky on a few of those that they stayed up and I had a clean mark all the way through except for 5’10.75”.”
Later that day, she would advance to the finals of both the 100 hurdles and 200. In the hurdles, she had the fastest preliminary time of 14.13 and was second-quickest in the 200 with a time of 25.09.
She then would be a perfect three-for-three on Saturday. She opened the day with the long jump, which she had won in both of the past two state meet. This year would be no exception, as she claimed a state meet and Owens Stadium record jump of 19’11” on her second try and added three more leaps of over 19 feet.
Surprisingly, it was anger at both her performance and a long wait for the event’s awards presentation that fueled her for the rest of the day.
“Coming off the long jump, I was angry that I didn’t get 20, so sitting under there kind of made me a little bit angrier and I was ready to get after it and go for the hurdles,” she said. “Just talking to some of the girls I competed with and who I’ve been competing with for a few years now calmed me down. They’re just the best people to talk to. They understand everything and all the sacrifices you had to make. I tried to calm down a little bit, but I was still pretty angry and let that fuel me for the rest of the day.”
That added motivation definitely didn’t hurt. She won the 100 hurdles by nearly a second, posting a time of 13.64. That time was a quarter of a second better than the Division II record, but the wind was determined a bit excessive for it to count. Later in the afternoon, she finished the 200 in 24.23, winning by .38 over St. Clairsville’s Emma Henry, who had posted the top time in the prelims.
“I was ready to go out there and attack those hurdles and I did that,” she said. “Unfortunately, it was wind-aided, so it doesn’t count. In that 200, I knew I was going to have to take that if I wanted a chance of winning the team title or even getting second, so I just gave it my all and blacked out those last 20 meters and fell to the ground after. It was awesome. The long jump was definitely a good set-up and the support this week has been amazing. I definitely felt the love, for sure.”
For her high school career, Laracuente-Huebner finishes with six state meet championships and 10 more state titles during the indoor track season — numbers that ensure her a place in Ohio track history.
“It just means a lot,” she said. “I just want to leave a legacy behind and I’m glad I came out here and won four, set meet records, put my name out there and made sure everyone knew who I was.”
Wendt stated there is one big reason his star claimed that much success over her career: hard work.
“Work ethic,” he said. “I’ve seen her in the weight room and there are football players in there and assistant football coaches and they’ll see me the next morning at school and they’ll go, ‘Juliette, I can’t believe what she deadlifted; I can’t believe what she squatted.’ It’s not just volume or mass, it’s that she works in the weight room. It’s not lifting to feel good, we all know those kind of people. She works her butt off in the weight room. It’s the work ethic. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
And that ethic led her to a level of success Wendt also has never witnessed.
“It’s just a great honor, it really is,” he said of her team trophy. “It’s a great honor to be part of that. To have a more than generational talent. I’ve used that term for years, but I will never, ever see something like this again.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS