AUSTINTOWN - Howland senior Ryan Sullivan couldn't see straight after his 3,200-meter run, and junior Taylor Craigo threw up after her 1,600-meter jaunt, but both had their minds elsewhere.
The Howland distance duo was far too busy thinking about the state track and field meet to worry about the trivial physical reactions after just running the races of their lives.
Sullivan and Craigo each placed fourth in their respective events at the Division I regional at Austintown Fitch High School May 29 to reserve a couple of spots at state.
Sullivan, who will compete at Youngstown State next year, and Craigo didn't compete at state until after press time.
As soon as Craigo crossed the finish line, she grinned from ear to ear. She also got sick right afterward, which she has a tendency to do after hard-fought races, but still managed to crack a smile as she embraced her friends and family.
"It actually tends to happen at districts, so it happened at regionals this time," Craigo said.
The junior made it to regionals last season, but this season's trip definitely trumped her previous experience.
"Last year I came to regionals, got 10th, I didn't run a good time, so I think it's the lows you have that make these even better," Craigo said. "Coming into this, I was ranked fourth and I knew I had a great shot, so I went out there planning to stay with the front pack and use my speed at the end."
Craigo was in third place in the May 29 race up until the final lap when Ravenna's Olivia Chinn crept up on her. Craigo saw it coming and did everything she could to maintain either a three or four spot.
"It was the same girl that came up on me last week and I let her pass me and I learned from that, and when she came up on me this week, I tried to stay with her as long as I could," Craigo said. "I knew there was a group behind me, and I felt secure in third."
Craigo finished with a personal-best time of 5:14.83.
After watching his teammate advance to Columbus, Sullivan followed suit in the 3,200.
"It was just great to be able to watch Taylor go out and run the mile, make it, and that just gave me that much more motivation to go out there and make it myself, too," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said his coaches planned out his race perfectly for him. His goal was to shoot for a 9:20, or 70-second laps, and Sullivan almost hit the mark with a PR of 9:21.59.
"Coming in here I knew it was going to be a battle to even get top five or six, let alone make fourth," Sullivan said. "I'm just so excited I get to go back one more year."
The top three runners in the two mile came firing out of the gate trying to hit nine flat, while Sullivan stayed smart and hung back to run his own race.
"In the beginning, I was definitely tempted to stay with them, but even though you feel great those first two laps, I knew that they were going at a really good pace. I would just die if I tried to stay with them."