One last hurdle hurrah

COLUMBUS – Being rivals on the track for four years, Poland’s Sage Spotleson and LaBrae’s Megan Gunther raced for the last time against each other on Saturday before becoming teammates.

At the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, the two seniors placed second and third in the Division II girls 100-meter hurdles. Spotleson took second with a time of 14.68, while Gunther finished third with a time of 14.79.

Both girls will compete on the track and field team at Youngstown State next year under assistant coach David Townsend, who deals with sprinters and hurdlers. These results must have him salivating at what they can do at the collegiate level.

“I’m really excited to run with her at YSU next year,” Gunther said. “I think we’re really going to push each other. We’re always really close. It’s either me first and her second or her first and me second.”

This time, Spotleson got the better of her future teammate, dropping her time to a personal record in the biggest meet of the year. The Bulldog senior managed to jump up a spot from her third-place finish last year in Columbus, while running .4 seconds faster from one year ago.

“It’s a good way to end my senior year, that’s for sure,” Spotleson said. “I was hoping that I would get here and make a PR. It felt really good to come in and PR. I can go home and know that I did the best that I could have possibly done.”

As for Gunther, she moved up two positions on the podium and beat her state time from last year by more than half second. She didn’t beat her time from Friday, where, in her preliminary heat, she set a personal mark of 14.59. That time would have beaten her future teammate. Not that she’s going to complain about coming in third place at the state meet.

“Yesterday, I ran my fastest time of 14.59, and all I wanted this season is to break 14.6,” Gunther said. “I was already ecstatic about that, so to come up two spots from what I was last year is absolutely incredible.

“To have Sage and me so close in places is even better.”

The camaraderie didn’t end with just those two girls but also spread to everyone else in the final race.

The girls were very friendly with each other after the race, chatting, cracking jokes and even holding hands up high in victory after receiving their medals on the podium. Spotleson explained that hurdlers have a bond off the track, even if they don’t necessarily get along on it.

“I don’t even know half the girls’ names, but we bond because we know what each other are going through,” Spotleson said.

Although both athletes came short in their bids to win a state title, both were grateful to finish as well as they had.

“In hurdles, anything can happen,” Spotleson said. “You can be the best coming in, and you can hit a hurdle or false start. Just making it here in general was just amazing. Of course, getting first would have been the best, but runner-up is not far from.”

Other results: Ursuline sophomore Alexandra Carnathan was sixth in the girls 100, finishing with a time of 12.46. Ursuline’s 4×100 relay team of Korree Cotton, Precious Williams, Paige Hall and Carnathan placed fourth with a time of 49.28. Justus Ellis-Moore, Kareem Ellis, Dawan Britt and Marcus McWilson combined on Cardinal Mooney’s 4×100 boys relay team to finish in fourth with a 42.58 Mooney’s other relay team, the 4×200 of Jayshawn Colemanm, Donovan McWilson, Marcus McWilson and Britt, took second place by running 1:28.43.