Cowin Becker led off Northmor’s state-placing 1600-meter relay team. The quarter, which also included Lucas Weaver, Connor Radojcsics and Bo Landin, finished third on Saturday.

Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

Will Baker placed seventh in the 1600 for Mount Gilead. He also ran in the 3200 and as part of the team’s 3200-meter relay.

Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

Natalie Hunter clears the bar in the pole vault at the state meet for the Northmor girls’ track team.

Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

Connor Radojcsics, shown competing in the Division III pole vault at the state meet, also was part of Northmor’s third place 1600-meter relay team.

Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

Aaron Gannon led off for Mount Gilead in the 3200-meter relay and also competed in the 800 in the Division III state track and field meet.

Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

The Northmor boys’ 1600-meter relay team rose to the occasion in the state championship race.

On Friday, the team barely qualified through the preliminary heats. Their time of 3:39.36 netted them the eighth of nine qualifying times and was only .14 better than the 10th place team.

However, Saturday was a different day and the performance was more to the liking of Cowin Becker, Lucas Weaver, Connor Radojcsics and Bo Landin. The team ran near the top for all four legs and finished third with a time of 3:24.21.

Radojcsics said that the team simply was more focused on Saturday.

“I don’t think we had the drive (in prelims) like we did today,” he said. “We knew we had another race after and since this was our last race, especially for me and Lucas, the seniors, we knew it’d be the final race of our career, so we put it all on the track.”

Weaver agreed with that sentiment and noted that their coach, Kevin Ruhl, had challenged them to be their best going into regionals the previous week.

“We were at the regional meet and the coach knew we had a shot at the school record,” he said. “The last team that attempted the school record at the regional meet was off by like .1 seconds. They didn’t run as hard as they probably should have, so our coach told us to just leave it on the track. Don’t leave anything when you walk off the track and don’t regret it and that day, we ran our butts off. We did what we needed to do. Yesterday, none of us were satisfied with it. Not very good handoffs and stuff. Today was great. We warmed up like we should have and we did what we had to do.”

Becker and Landon, the two sophomore on the team, had the first and last legs, respectively. Becker looked forward to the challenge, especially since Northmor started in Lane One, meaning he was looking up at all the other competitors.

“I actually really like it because I can pace myself a little better and come out a little harder and in the end, just gun them all down,” he said. “And I knew I had the earlier exchange in the first line, so all I had to do was get Lucas a good shot in the first curve to take it.”

Landin got the baton in third place and was able to hold that position, coming within half a second of improving the team’s position.

“It’s definitely nerve-wracking getting the baton and you know you have to give it your all and try to catch up,” he said. “I got the baton and was right behind and I tried and I just stayed in the position I was. I gave it my all and it was a good race.”

Radojcsics also competed in the pole vault on Friday. He cleared 12’6” on his second try and then got 13’ on his first attempt, but bowed out on 13’6” to finish 14th.

In the girls’ pole vault, Natalie Hunter also placed 14th. She cleared 9’ on her second attempt and then went over 9’6” on the first try, but was unable to duplicate her regional height of 10’ in her first trip to the state meet.

Mount Gilead Indians

Mount Gilead sophomore Will Baker used an early state meet disappointment as fuel to reach the podium in the 1600.

On Friday, Baker competed along with Aaron Gannon, Owen Hershner and Parker Bartlett on a regional champion 3200-meter relay team. However, despite running over six second faster and finishing in 8:10.69, the Indians finished ninth to miss out on the podium by .53 seconds and one place.

“Definitely a heartbreaking ninth,” said Baker of that finish. “I wanted to get on the podium with my guys, but it definitely fueled the engine and I wanted to make it on today.”

He would accomplish that mission in the 1600 on Saturday. Baker navigated a crowded pack to a seventh-place finish in 4:21.58.

“It makes you super aware the whole time,” said Baker of racing in crowded conditions. “It just makes you aware you’re in a race right now and trying to beat the guy next to you. It’s actually super exciting. It’s a super fun experience to be able to run with guys that are running your time or faster.

Baker also ran in the 3200. He finished 12th in that event with a time of 9:58.6. Gannon also ran in an individual event. He placed 15th in 1:59.24.

Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS