Southeast Fesemyer makes impact at state meet

COLUMBUS – Jenna Fesemyer couldn’t have prepared for this.

The Southeast High School sophomore had herself at the starting line of the 100-meter dash, her canvas gloves gripped tightly around the handles of her cherry-red racing wheelchair.

The gun sounded and the slow momentum carried each competitor down their respective lane.

Fesemyer was in lane 1, rolled faster and faster toward the finish line and eventually finished second in her heat as the crowd roared in excitement with the newly formed wheelchair event.

Fesemyer was the only girl competing in Saturday’s first-ever wheelchair events at the state track and field meet inside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. There were 11 boys also competing in the four other events.

“All week we tried to see what it would be like down here,” said Cindy Fesemyer, Jenna’s mother and Southeast girls track and field coach. “What we experienced here was beyond our imagination, it was far better than what we ever dreamed of. So the people that organized this, (OHSAA) Commissioner (Dan) Ross and his crew did an outstanding job in every aspect.”

Since Fesemyer was the lone girl, she received four gold medals for the 100, 400, 800 and shot put.

“Little disappointment, but I know I can get the word out down here,” Jenna said. “I made that my job today, let people know, ‘Hey, this is an event now, come down, see this. If you know anyone, have them join me.’ I have no problem racing with the boys. I like beating the boys. It was fine.

“I’m really excited to see girls out here (next year).”

After her final 800 race, she exited the awards stand and headed back on the track. On her way, she waved to the crowd as she rolled along the track. Tears started to well up for the Southeast sophomore. She maintained her role as the consummate ambassador for these wheelchair events.

“My goal is to touch everybody, touch everybody’s hearts,” Fesemyer said. “That’s how it grows. It’ll grow to tell somebody, to tell somebody else, who might know a kid.”

The hugs and well wishes she received along the way were thanks enough for this track and field pioneer – something she’ll take away from Saturday’s events.

“The respect I got from people,” Fesemyer said. “I appreciate that the most out of everything, the respect, no matter if they smile or if they come up and talk to me. Taking that with me makes my heart glow. It makes me think some really good things about Ohio.”

NEW STATE STANDARDS: Two female athletes broke the all-division state records in their respective events. Cincinnati St. Ursula’s Annie Heffernam set the Division I girls standard in the 3,200 with 10:14.91, while Olentangy Orange’s Katelyn Daniels threw a meet best 51 feet, 2 inches in the shot put. The previous best in the shot put was set by Ashley Muffett of North Canton Hoover in 2005 of 50-10. North Royalton’s Hannah Neczypor set the top mark in the 3,200 in 2011 of 10:16.10. Both Muffett and Neczypor were Division I athletes.

OTHER STATE MARKS: Green’s Morgan Estes broke the meet and stadium mark in the Division I pole vault (13-0.25). Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s 4×200 boys team broke the Division II meet record (1:26.87). Salem’s Anthony Shivers beat the Division II stadium record in the discus (203-2). Westerville North’s Jacob Dumford broke the Division I boys 1,600 stadium record (4:08.21). . Cincinnati Northwest’s 4×100 boys team broke the Division I stadium record (41.28).