COLUMBUS — On Saturday, June 4, Eaton High School junior Seth Gard had to wait for a long time to compete in the Division II boys 3,200-meter run.
He was the final Preble County athlete to participate in the state championships — and once the event began, he made the most of the long wait. He started the race in lane three and had a fairly poor start, falling back quickly into 13th place but before the fourth turn, he was stuck into a pack between 9th and 14th. He struggled to break away from a large group of runners that were practically tripping over each other for the first two laps.
At the start of the third lap, the runners began to stretch the line out in positions. Gard was far behind at this point at 13th place. He gained ground at the end of the third lap and passed a number of runners to hold sixth place. He was able to maintain his position between sixth and eighth place for the next three laps. Gard battled it out with Kieffer Mosmeir of Logan, Luke Brown of Sheridan, and Clark Bookman of Field, who switched positions numerous times.
It was the final lap when after the second turn, Brown and Bookman kicked it in and passed Gard. But Gard held a strong position between himself and Mosmeir to finish the race in eighth.
“That was a great race, so I’m pretty happy with it,” said Gard before the awards ceremony. “I felt really well coming into the race, felt really loose. I wish I had gotten out faster at the start, and I was playing catch-up for the first mile. At the end, my kick wasn’t bad but not great. I’m happy, but I could have done a little better. But when you are at the state meet, this is a great accomplishment. I got to see what it’s like and hopefully next year I can come in and do some real damage.
“I knew I was really far behind in the middle of the race. I said to myself that I had to do something and make some smart decisions. And it was just chasing one guy and passing him, then moving on to the next guy to get eighth. I was sixth on that last lap but they just out-kicked me. I didn’t get out of that first pack, I got trapped in during the first mile and it’s hard to make moves in that position, so next year, I have to avoid getting trapped.”
Senior Madison Bowman participated in the first track event in the girls Division II discus throw on Friday morning. Her best throw was her second attempt at 115 feet 8 inches was 13th best in the field, but was not far enough to compete in the final flight for a medal.
“She is a first-time state qualifier, what a great honor for her. She knew going in that was going to throw extremely good, well beyond her preliminary score. She worked very hard over the years, she was a three time regional qualifier and finally was able to make it. What a great way to finish up as a senior for her. Can’t say enough good things about her. She will be going to Defiance to play in both soccer and track. Soccer is her top priority but it says a lot about what she feels about track. Not since 2013 had Eaton sent someone to state in the discus which was Kaitlyn Hiley. She sat right about where Madison was at and performed about the same. So, we have a bit of a tradition going on here at Eaton on field events.”
“I was very excited that Madi was to make it to state,” throwing coach Scott Burnett said after the contest. “She did a nice job at the regional meet this year. The goal this year was to get her into state for her firs time as a senior. She came back to improve on her throw in in order to finish at regional in the top four, and we knew she would have a tough time at state. We did the best for her in preparing her for the week in what to expect and how to manage the adrenaline. Unfortunately, she didn’t have her best day in throwing but at state, she was going to face some serious competition. The second ‘hammer’ ring was a bit confusing for many of the athletes as it gives some of them a difference sense of. State can be intimidating to have so many judges and so many spectators that can be a factor on nervousness. But she did her best and we are happy for her.”
Eagles’ coach Randy McKinney was with Gard after the ceremony.
“He ran a nice race, especially since he’s never been here before. He did a nice job, he was around 11th place or so. We know the top two guys were going to take off early (champion Nick Stricklen of Lexington and Noah Perrin of Woodridge) but he didn’t panic and that was key in that race. The last two guys just had really good kick but still ran a smart race. A lot of kids are just happy being here and his attitude was not like that. But a great season, this is only the fifth time he’s run the race so he has a lot to learn about the 3,200.”
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or at Twitter @osanders_RH