DAYTON — To the casual observer, Beavercreek pole vaulter Eileen Yang seemed the picture of calm and confidence during the May 26 Division I regional track and field championships on sunny afternoon at Perc Welcome Stadium.
“I was a nervous wreck! My heart is still racing,” Yang laughed, moments after receiving her first-place medal for winning the girls pole vaulting competition and booking herself a spot in the D-I state championships next week in Columbus.
“I’m a very nervous person anyhow, so I paced, I shook my hands, drank a whole bunch of water … I just tried to get the nerves down,” she said.
Yang’s personal best vault height is 12 feet, 3 inches, but she merely had to clear the 12-foot mark to win the regional title. She has loftier goals for Columbus.
“My goal is to go 12-4, or even 12-6. That’s like a reasonable goal for me, and I would love for that to happen,” Yang said.
Vaulting coach Kaley Moss would go over video of each of Yang’s attempts, fine tuning the young freshman’s approach each time. Moss was very proud of Yang’s accomplishment.
“She did incredibly today. As a freshman, to come out here and be confident and hit with any pole that someone put in her hand, she’s very coachable. I couldn’t ask for a better athlete,” Moss said.
Yang had tried a new pole a couple weeks ago at the Greater Western Ohio Conference meet, and wasn’t entirely comfortable with that one. She thanked Huber Heights Wayne coach and vaulting enthusiast Terry Wasson for purchasing a new pole that was the proper height and weight to Yang’s liking.
“I can’t leave without thanking the wonderful Terry Wasson,” she said.
Beavercreek distance standout Ben Ewert was confident enough in his abilities that he tried a different strategy in the boys 1,600-meter race. … and it nearly cost him a trip to state. Ewert opted to try and hang with Liberty Township Lakota East’s Dustin Horter, who entered the race with a seeding time that was almost six seconds faster than Anderson’s Joseph Ingram, and nearly 13 seconds faster than Ewert.
Horter stayed out front, while Ewert began to fade on the third lap. At one point, the Beavers senior had faded to fourth, but a last-lap kick down the final straight enabled Ewert to finish third behind Ingram. Ewert’s time of 4:16.23 was seven seconds quicker than the seeding time he’d run last week at the district meet.
“I wanted to see what it would be like going out with Horter. I know he likes to go out really hard,” Ewert said. “I didn’t think he’d go out with a (55-second opening lap), so I probably won’t do that at state. I’ll probably be more conservative in the early going, and then bring it back in the end. That’s the way I like to run.”
Later in the evening, Beavercreek 800-meter runners Stephanie Pierce (fourth) and Ian Johnson (third) placed in the top-4 of their respective events to qualify on to the state meet in Columbus. Pierce finished with a 2:16.63 time, almost a half second slower than her district seeding. Johnson, meanwhile, turned the two laps just over two seconds quicker than he’d run at districts to also advance.
The Division I state track and field championships will begin at 4:45 p.m. with the girls 3,200 relay on Friday, June 2. The final day of the Division I championship is Saturday, June 3, with field events set to get under way at noon and track events at 4:30 p.m.
Rams set new school record: Lost in the rain of the May 25 first day of the Division II regionals up in Piqua, a pair of Greeneview girls relay teams qualified to Saturday’s finals, but were accidentally left out of Friday’s story. (We apologize.) According to coach Tim Aronhalt, the Rams’ girls 1,600-meter relay team of Olivia Maxwell, Alex Hansen, McKyna Woods and Ocean Morris had the second quickest qualifying time of 4:07.27, which is also a new Greeneview school record. and 800-meter relay team (also of Hansen, Maxwell, Woods and Morris) is seeded fifth heading into Saturday’s May 27 finals with a time of 1:49.48.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.