COLUMBUS - Morgan Rice does not run well with other hurdlers. She doesn't like to get caught in the pack.
The John F. Kennedy senior much prefers to be way out in front of the pack during her races, and in the girls 100-meter hurdles final at the state meet, Rice stuck to the same game plan.
She escaped the banging and bumping mess behind her and strode ahead, all alone to a first-place finish and more importantly, a second-straight individual state title.
"That's always my goal because people start hitting each hurdle and I didn't want that to happen to me, so I just got out and kept going," Rice said.
Rice made winning a state championship in the girls 100 hurdles sound so easy, and she made it look pretty easy, too. Once she got ahead early in the race, she dominated. Her 14.49 finishing time, which was a personal best for her, was three-tenths of a second ahead of the second-place finisher, Amber Eles of Trinity.
"This is my favorite race, I wanted to win so bad," Rice said. "It's such a relief."
Rice also felt relieved to make it back to state this year and win it all again. Last year at state, Rice took home the state title in the same event with a time of 15.02. On Saturday, she shattered last year's time by over half a second.
"I trained harder this season because I wanted to beat what I did last year. I didn't want to just get complacent and come back expecting to win," Rice said.
Repeating a state championship is no easy task, but it was one that Rice set out to do this year - and succeeded.
Rice said she wanted to put most of her focus on the 100 hurdles, but she also shined in the 300 hurdles. The Miami of Ohio commit said she didn't expect to win the 300 hurdles but gave it her all anyway, and it showed with a second-place finish.
"The 300s I just wanted to get 43 seconds, do my best and if I didn't win, that's all I could ask for, and that's what I did. I PRed so I'm happy" Rice said. "It felt good to peak at the right time and finish my season strong."
Rice finished second with a 43.88. Jackie Siefring of Covington took the 300 crown with a 43.64.
"It's not my favorite, but I've gotten a lot better at it because I focused on it more," Rice said.