State meet bound

MUSKINGUM – One was the favorite and the other was not.

One was surprised, the other not so much.

When all was done, Edison graduate Ashley Borsch and Indian Creek junior Max Lewis stood in the same place – atop the podium.

As a result, both will head to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium next weekend at Ohio State University for the Ohio State Track and Field Championships thanks to their performances Saturday at the Division II regional championships at Muskingum University.

Lewis came into the 800 as the man to beat. He had the only sub-two minute time and he owned the race from the beginning.

His 1:56.90 was a personal record by about 1 seconds and beat runner-up Winston Wade of Gallia Academy by 2.94 seconds.

“I’ve been running 1:58s consistently, but couldn’t seem to get under that,” Lewis said. “The last two times I ran the 4×400 relay, my splits were 50.8 and 50.6. I told myself, ‘if I can run that in the 4, I know I can run faster in the 8.’

“I went out on my own to see what kind of standard I can set for the state meet.”

He turned one lap in about 56 seconds and then took it out even harder over the next 100.

“I saw the 56 and thought, ‘I’m feeling good, let’s see how much I can push it,'” he said. “Coming down the home stretch I was feeling it a little bit. I think I kept the pace pretty good through the finish.”

Lewis made it to Columbus last year as a sophomore and now heads into next week with a different attitude.

“Last year, I looked at times and I was near the back of the pack,” he said. “When I raced there I was surprised to see how close I was to the people up front.

“I wasn’t by them, but I was within a couple of steps the whole time. This year, I’m going to run with the best of them, see if I can win, how high up there I can place and see what time I get.

“Go all out.”

For Borsch, this trip to Columbus has been two years in the making.

She made it as a sophomore and “I got 16 out of 16. I want in that top eight now,” she said.

Borsch came into the regionals with the best seed time, but had the third-best qualifying time.

“I’m beyond excited. I’m so happy,” she admitted after running a PR. “I never thought winning was going to happen. I was told to run my race and I did. This is amazing. This is a dream come true right now.

“My senior year did not start out well at all. Last year, I had a really good chance of winning, but I messed up my ankle at regional semifinals. This year, I knew I needed to work on my basics. It all comes together when you push yourself and give your heart.”

Her 46.50 was .27 better than Natalie Eberts of Sheridan and .46 faster than West Holmes freshman Taylor Yerian.

“I wanted to prove to myself that I can beat anyone,” said Borsch. “Working hard pays off, even though I know I slacked a little bit. Now, I have one goal and that’s to get on the podium at states.”

Steubenville Big Red sophomore Elise Watts is headed back to Columbus in three events – long jump, 100 hurdles and 4×200 relay with teammates Lysaih Rice (sophomore), Kira Newburn and Knisha Sanders (freshmen), in 1:46.18.

“I am happy we qualified because I want them to come to states and get the experience like I had last year,” Watts said. “It’s a fun experience being in the hotel with them, seeing different people. I am looking forward to it.”

One of Watts’ big goals this season was to make it to states in the 100 hurdles and her third-place 15.54 made that a reality.

“It am so proud of myself for that race,” she said. “I felt good. Last year I came in fifth and didn’t want that to happen again.”

Watts jumped 16-10 to take fourth. Last year she finished fourth after scratching on five of her six jumps. Her first jump Saturday was 16-3.

“I was glad to get that one in and not scratch,” she said with a smile. Watts placed fourth at the state meet in the long jump last season.

“I am truly blessed.”

Indian Creek graduate Kristen Shimko admitted, “this wasn’t one of my best throwing days.”

But, all she needed was to finish in the top four to realize her dream of heading to Columbus.

Her toss of 113-11 on her fifth attempt was good enough for fourth place.

“I’m really excited,” Shimko said. “I’ve worked really hard for this since my ninth-place finish at regionals last year. This was my goal.

“I just needed to relax more out there. A lot of times I get tense and I start thinking about it. I know I can throw farther. If I don’t think about it, I do better.”

Shimko’s first three tosses did not reach 110-feet and she had to wait through the second flight of eight to see if she would finish in the top eight to qualify for three more throws.

“It was definitely a mental challenge, because I didn’t want to sit there and think about it the whole time,” she admitted. “I took a walk, went around the pond. I stayed away from the disc area and went back when I needed to be there.

“I’m so happy for next week. But, I’m really happy our teammates are making it out, too.”

Along with Lewis and Shimko is graduate Whitney Martin and freshman Madison Smith.

Martin, who is running track for the first time since the eighth-grade, qualified in the 100 and 200.

Smith, a freshman, ran 1:00.19 to place fourth and qualify in the 400.

Martin sped to a 12.36 in the 100 to take second and clipped the 200 in 25.267 to take fourth. Kennedy Smith of West Holmes took third at 25.265.

“I didn’t think any of this was possible at the beginning of the year,” she said with a laugh. “Today, I was just hoping to be better than Thursday because Thursday wasn’t a good day.”

Martin qualified fourth in the 200 at 26.06 in her heat and at 12.60 in the 100.

It took Martin a while this year to believe a trip to Columbus was a possibility.

“At the Buckeye 8, Ayla (Ayla Stewart of St. Clairsville) was my competition and I was fortunate enough to beat her in the 100 and 200 and then I realized I could do something,” she said.

“It’s really a blessing. My first year running track in high school and I’m going to states in two events.

“I’ve had so much support behind me. It’s a great feeling to go to states and to go to states with teammates makes it even better.”

Big Red graduate Joey Nodianos qualified third in the 110 hurdles and will head back to Columbus for the third year in a row.

He was a member of the 4×400 relay as a sophomore and last year made it in the hurdles and the 4×200 relay.

“It’s great to go back for the third time,” said Nodianos, who ran his best time of the season at 15.05. “I am really happy with myself.

“The jitters kept piling on the closer it got to the hurdles. And, when the one kid false-started, there was even more jitters.

“When I get in the blocks, things start calming down and, when the gun goes off, everything goes away and I just run. I’m focused.”

Big Red graduate Ja’Quan Lavender finished second in the 400 at 49.99 and will head to Columbus.