COLUMBUS - About 20 meters into the Division I girls 100-meter dash, the fate of the Warren G. Harding girls track and field team altered.
At that time, WGH sophomore sprinter Justice Richardson grimaced in pain, gutted through the following 80 meters and finished ninth out of nine runners in an unlikely time of 13.04 seconds.
Raiders coach Charles Penny said he didn't have time to shuffle things around because the 100 and following 4x200 relay were back-to-back races.
"We didn't know what was going on," Penny said. "We knew something happened in the 100, obviously. We didn't know if it was a cramp or if it was twisted ankle at some part of the race. People think it's a straight-ahead race and it's pretty easy. There's a lot of mechanics that are involved in that. We were unsure. After the race, she's walking across the grass and looked OK. She was kind of playing with her foot a little bit. At that point, we didn't know anything major was going on. She took her spot in the relay and everything seemed OK. Talking to her, she was not competing at the level we know she can be. That's when we knew something more was involved.
"We tried to talk to her, but they are back-to-back races. For the amount of time to evaluate her and to see what was going on and make a decision there, they already had our girls going out to their posts for their relay."
She ran the anchor leg of the 4x200 and took the final handoff in second place. The injury was more visible in the 4x200 as she struggled to finish and WGH ran a 1:43.40 - which secured a second-place finish.
The nature of the injury was either the leg or the foot. It wasn't known at the time, Penny said.
"Her family (took) her back to Warren to get some X-rays. We'll find out more from there," Penny said.
Richardson was then lifted from the 4x100 and junior Nautica Hill took her place.
"She worked on handoffs 15 minutes before she went into the race," Penny said. "She literally went in there blind. We went in there and came out with second place."
Hill said she was ready to be the anchor leg.
"I was running the fastest I could, getting the biggest lead possible since I knew she was hurt," said Hill, whose team finished second in a time of 47.80.
It worked for Harding in the end.
"Even though things didn't work out in the 4x200 because we had the injury," Hill said. "Things like that happen. I'm glad we were able to overcome some adversity and come out as runners-up."
But the expectations never change for WGH.
"We always go into it expecting to win everything. That's what our coaches expect us to do, to win and take first," Emily Stevens said.
To overcome Saturday's adversity was something else for WGH. Though they had hopes of being in the running for a state title, the Raiders finished in 25th.
"For what they did as a group was phenomenal," Penny said.
JUMP INTO THIRD: East's Terrell McClain took third in the Division I boys long jump with a distance of 22 feet, 10 inches.
He fouled on his last jump, but the board wiggled on McClain, who was the Division I regional champion in Austintown with a jump of 23-3.75.
"The board moved and they had to fix it. They fouled me. It didn't count," he said.
However, it was a good day for the East Panthers.
"It feels good to come down here and represent. I think I did a good job," McClain said.
FLYING HIGH: Canfield's Andrew Hallof placed seventh in the Division I boys discus with a throw of 161-0.
FALCONS NEST: The Austintown Fitch boys 4x200 and 4x400 relays of Gary Gibson, Nathan Bowlen, Darrin Hall and Joe Harrington took second and eighth, respectively, in times of 1:26.75 and 3:22.89. . The girls team of Brittany Floyd, Ebony Davis, Jayme Ritchie, Makaila Barbel took seventh (1:42.88).
GOING THE DISTANCE: Boardman senior Mark Hadley took third in the boys 3,200 run in a time of 9:06.33. Chardon's Nick Elswick won the race in a time of 9:02.41.