COLUMBUS - Getting through the first day of the Division I state track meet required perhaps a little more attention to detail than normal.
Heat near 90 degrees and heavy winds played havoc for some yesterday afternoon during the competition.
Yet, Bowsher's girls team, which arrived in Columbus looking to contend for a team championship, responded well to the heat, as well as the pressure.
The Rebels qualified their 400, 800 and 1600 relay teams for the finals and Bowsher sprinter Meshawn Graham had little trouble moving into the finals of two of her three individual running events.
"Everybody is healthy and we improved on all of the relays," Bowsher coach Solomon Branch said. "They're just out there competing, doing what they've been doing all season.
Joy Franklin, Paris Littleton, Chantel Cross and Jade Brown finished third in their 400 relay heat with a time of 48.29. Brown, Franklin, Littleton and Shannon Franklin worked together for a Rebels' season-best time of
1:40.81 in the 800 relay to secure a spot in the finals.
The Rebels 1600 relay team (Brown, Littleton, Shannon Franklin, Kaila Gardner) advanced to the finals taking place today by posting a season-best time of 3:50.43.
"We were strong today, but we're hoping to be even more tomorrow," Littleton said. "Today, we just tried to qualify for the finals."
Graham made a decision not to run in her 200 prelim race to allow her to focus today primarily on trying to win the 400 meters at state for the first time in four tries. A past 100 and 200 state champion, Graham is looking to give it her all in today's 100, 400 and long jump events.
By dropping out of the 200, she may also run on the Rebels' 1600 relay team.
"The combination is very tough and there's not enough time in between the races," Graham said.
The University of Michigan bound sprinter did come through yesterday to post the top qualifying time in the 400 after she crossed the finish line of her heat in a time of 53.74. The defending state 100 champion also ran second in her heat of the 100 with a time of 12.32. Defending 200 champion Beaumont's Aareon Payne won the heat with a time of 12.08.
Bowsher sprinter Princeton Bryson registered the fastest prelim 100 time by winning his heat with a swift effort of 10.86. He also posted a time of 21.92 in a 200 prelim race that gave him a second-place effort and a spot in the finals.
The Rebels senior said his strategy was all about advancing to the finals in both events.
"It was OK," said Bryson, summing up his work yesterday. "The 200 was kind of iffy. He [Gahanna Lincoln's Blake Heriot] basically came up and got me. He showed more heart than I did.
"The 100 was good. I just have to keep doing what I've been doing. If I do that then everything should fall into place."
Anthony Wayne's Erika Schmidt also performed well in her prelim heats. She turned in the fastest 200 prelim time by winning her heat in 25.05. She also produced a time of 12.66 in her 100 prelim to put her in position to compete for two state titles.
Schmidt, a state runner-up in the 200 a year ago, said the heat and windy conditions did bother her and she intends to be better prepared for it today.
"I just have to stay focused on the things that I can control like stretching and drinking plenty of water," Schmidt said.
Central Catholic's Sharise Calhoun will run in the 100 and 300 hurdles finals after placing third in her heat of the 100 hurdles (14.97) and fourth in her heat of the 300 hurdles (44.32).
Whitmer's Kevin Koger, Nicolas Young, Jeremy Jones and Anthony Allen qualified for the 800 relay after posting a time of 1:28.27. The four Panthers came up shy of qualifying for the finals in the 400 relay after placing fifth in their heat with a time of 42.73.
Allen placed sixth in a 300 hurdles prelim with a time of 39.91.
Whitmer's Samantha Gwin finished sixth in her 400 race with a time of 57.42.
AW's Ashley Zaper just missed qualifying for the finals in the hurdles events. She ran fifth in her heat of the 100 hurdles (15.44) and fifth in her heat of the 300 hurdles (44.32).
Whitmer's Courtney Siebenaller ran seventh in her heat of the 300 hurdles (47.22).
St. John's Jesuit's Brett Wagner, Dave Reing, Kevin Yarnell and Joe Miller finished 10th in the 3200 relay with a time of 8:05.31.
Perrysburg's Jen Oakes, Betsy Lathrop, Courtney Weis and Kaitlyn Llewellyn finished 14th in the girls 3200 relay with a time of 9:51.64, while Central Catholic's Kaitlyn Krizman, Emma Kertesz, Kristyn Tusin and Anne McCarthy ran 16th with a time of 9:54.38.
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