COLUMBUS — Brittany Atkinson is familiar with being No. 1.
The Liberty Center junior is a two-time Division III individual cross country champion.
Reaching such heights in track had alluded her in the past. She's been seeking a state title in track for three years.
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Atkinson checked that off her list when she claimed the 3200 meters race title convincingly at the Division III state track and field meet on Saturday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Atkinson pulled away from the field early and went on to finish with a personal-best time of 10:53.48. She had not broken 11 minutes in a race all season.
“It's really big,” said Atkinson, who won the race by more than 20 seconds. “Ever since last year I wasn’t really happy with my performance, so I’ve been kind of using that to motivate me and remember how it felt to be fourth [last year].”
Finishing first at state in the two-mile track event isn’t quite the same as completing a 3.2 mile cross country course first to become a state champion.
“It’s a lot different,” she said. “I think it’s the running in circles in track that’s really different. Personally, I like cross country better because track is a harder challenge for me.”
Archbold's Emily Roth, Meridith Short, Alicia Hernandez, and Jensyn Garrow also finished their day standing atop the awards stand after winning the 1600 relay in 3:56.22 to close out the D-III meet. Garrow ran anchor and held off Minster's Olivia Enneking to give the Blue Streaks the win.
“I knew I just needed to finish strong to finish the race,” Garrow said. “I think we did what we needed to do to get it done.
“This means a lot. We had a lot of hard practices this year and it’s really paid off. We ran a lot faster than we ever expected we would and this weather helped today too. I think we all ran our best today and it showed.”
Archbold's Levi Wyse proved quite productive on a busy Saturday morning.
Wyse competed in four events. He held up and held his own.
At the end of the day, he claimed two runner-up finishes (100, 1600 relay), a fourth place (200) and a seventh place (400).
“All the work that my coaches and myself put in helped to prepare myself and we’ve been ready for this,” Wyse said. “I got to where I wanted to be [individually] and the [1600 relay] exceeded expectations. I’m really proud of the guys with how hard they’ve worked and how they ran this year.”
Wyse's best effort of the day was placing second in the 100 with a season-best time of 11.03. He also ran a strong anchor leg to help the Blue Streaks, including Lincoln Parsley, Quinton Ranzau, and Jack Fisher, take second in the 1600 relay with a season-best time of 3:20.40.
Wyse completed the 200 with a time of 22.33 and the 400 at 50.30.
Patrick Henry's Zach Nye finished third in the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.50. Jacob Ehlers, Nye, Mitchell Bonner, and Donny Johnson turned in a time of 44.84 in the 400 relay to give the Patriots an eighth-place finish.
Woodmore's Deric Anthony ran 14th in the 800 with a time of 2:13.35.
Evergreen's Carly Truckor earned a third-place showing for the 300 hurdles in a time of 44.64.
Archbold's Delanie Driver, Roth, Short, and Garrow raced to third in the 800 relay with a time of 1:44.19.
Toledo Christian's Bebe Adebiyi, Darian Westmeyer, Brianna Stewart, and Micah Johnston placed third in the 400 relay with a time of 49.47.
Johnson, a sophomore, was also a state placer in the 400, finishing in fifth at 57.86.
“We definitely came out here and tried our best,” Johnson said of the Eagles relay team.
Gibsonburg's Colleen Reynolds placed fourth in the 400 with a time of 57.56.
Liberty Center's Olivia Kundo ran 10th in the 800 with a time of 2:19.86 and teammate Paige Chamberlain ran 15th with a time of 12:27.73.
McDonald claimed the D-III state girls team championship with 45 points, followed by Tinora 44, St. Thomas Aquinas 44, Columbus Academy 30, Covington 26, Trinity 24, Col. S. Girls 22, Marion Local 22, Minster 20, and Warren JFK to round out the Top 10 in the team results.
Lima Central Catholic won the D-III team championship with 52 points and Gilmour Academy claimed the runner-up position with 42 points, followed by Columbus Academy 39, Warren JFK 36, Bluffton 29, Archbold 23, Calvert 22, Maplewood 22, West Liberty-Salem 22, and Covington 21 to complete the Top 10.