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All 12 Covington competitors who qualified for state earned a medal at the 2017 State Track and Field Championships in Columbus over the weekend.
Breanna Kimmel and the girls 4x400 meter relay team finished 7th at state.

By Rob Kiser - Piqua Daily Call
Many athletes may be bothered by the pressure and atmosphere of Jesse Owens Stadium and the Division III state track and field meet.

Covington junior Jett Murphy thrives on it.

After clearing a school record 14-4 as a sophomore and finishing fourth, Murphy turned in another record-setting performance Friday, clearing 14-10 to break his own school record and taking another step up on the podium.

"I feel pretty good about what I did today," Murphy said. "I didn't have a miss until 15-2."

Murphy was one of three vaulters to clear 14-10.

"I felt like that was going to be a pretty important jump," he said. "At 15-2, those thoughts (of winning a state championship) were running through my head if I made it. But, I am happy with what I did today."

He still has one big goal left to accomplish.

"I still didn't get 15-feet," Murphy said with a smile about his goal coming into state. "But, I can get that next year."

For Covington high jumper Zach Parrett, he made the big jumps when he needed to Friday.

Parett cleared both 6-2 and 6-3 on his final attempts to secure eighth place and a spot on the podium.

"It feels really good," Parrett said. "It definitely makes it harder jumping over here in front of a big crowd. Definitely, I am hoping to come back next year."

Cade Harshbarger is running on championship day of the Division III state track and field championships - just not in the event he expected.

Harshbarger felt like the 300 intermediate hurdles was the strong of his two events, but instead in the made the finals of the 110-meter high hurdles.

Harshbarger had the sixth fastest time of 15.23.

"It was one-hundreth a second off (of his PR)," Harshbarger said. "I didn't make the finals last year, so it feels good to make the finals."

Harshbarger missed by one-hundreth of a second of making the finals in the 300 hurdles.

His time of 40.54 was the 10th fastest.

"It was hot, but I am not going to make excuses," Harshbarger said. "The 300 hurdles ended up being a tough race. I am glad I made the finals in the 110s."

The Covington boys 1,600 relay also advanced to the finals, with the fastest time of 3:27.41.

The team of Zane Barnes, Gray Harshbarger, Jayce Pond and Nathan Lyle finished third in their heat, with Lyle holding off the Columbus Academy anchor.

"Every spot counts," Lyle said with a smile. "The heat was really tough today."

Pond agreed.

"It was really, really hot," he said. "It feels good to be running in the finals, because we have been here and not made the finals."

And they look forward to today's challenge.

"We have got one more in us," Harshbarger said with a smile.

"For sure," Barnes said.

Christian podiums
Lauren Christian finished her sophomore season with a bang, uncorking a put of 40-4 1-4 - breaking her own school record - to finish sixth.

"It feels great to be on the podium," said Christian, who had finished 14th in the discus earlier in the day with a throw of 112-1. "I don't really like the discus, so I wasn't expecting to do that well."

Christian was ninth going into the finals of the shot put, before getting her big put on her second attempt in finals.

"It was a little confusing, because they had the wrong distance for me," she said. "They had me eighth up on the board. I thought I heard the women say 40-4 1-4, but I wasn't sure. So, I thought I was eighth. When they told me I was sixth, that was cool."

Christian hopes to do even better next year.

"Definitely," she said. "Right now, I am just happy with my throw today and getting up on the podium. It has been a really good year."

One goal down, one to go
The Covington girls 1,600-meter relay team advanced to the finals, with the seventh-fastest time of 4:03.22.

Rayna Horner, Morgan Lowe, Paige Boehringer and Breanna Kimmel finished second in their heat behind Anna.

"That's who we ran with at regionals and again today," Horner said. "It was really hot out there today."

And the Lady Buccs locked up one of the two automatic spots from their heat.

"The goal was to be in the top two," Kimmel said. "It would have been nice to win the heat, but we are running tomorrow. That is nice, because I have been over here before and not made finals."

Lowe, a freshman, can't wait.

"It was a lot of fun," she said about running at state.

Boehringer agreed.

"It is great to be in the finals," she said. "I had run at state in cross (country), but not in track."

Horner said today can only benefit them down the road.

"We are a young team," she said. "This is going to be a great experience for us to run in the finals. We are all going to be back next year."

Horner advanced to the finals of the 400.

Horner has the fourth fastest time of 58.47.

"Actually, I felt really good about the way I ran," she said. "I knew the girl next to me ran in the 57s, so I knew I had to go. We will see what happens tomorrow."

Covington's Breanna Kimmel didn't advance to the finals of the 100, finishing 16th in 13.03.

Cade Harshbarger crosses the final hurdles on his way to a 6th place finish in the 110 meter hurdles.

By Rob Kiser - Piqua Daily Call
Twelve Covington track and field athletes made the trip to Columbus for the Division III state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Stadium.

And none of them returned empty handed - and it was capped by Jayce Pond celebrating his birthday.

"Everyone that came over here won a medal," Covington senior Zane Barnes said. "That doesn't usually happen. That is pretty special."

In the final race in Division III, Pond teamed with Barnes, Gray Harshbarger and Nathan Lyle for sixth place in the 1,600 relay with a time of 3:26.48.

"Today's my birthday," Pond said. "That (running at state) is what I wished for. We got up on the podium, which is better than we have done in the past."

Gray Harshbarger said it was a memorable day.

"I thought we all ran well," he said. "It felt great to be up on the podium."

Like in the semifinals Friday, Lyle held off a runner at the end for sixth place.

"Yeah, it was close," Lyle said. "But, I think that is what makes it fun, when you have a close race like that. It felt great to be on the podium."

Covington hurdler Cade Harshbarger took sixth in the 110 high hurdles in 15.15.

"I am happy because I ran a PR," Cade said. "You work hard all year to run your PR at the end of the season. Much credit to my coaches."

Harshbarger thought the 300 hurdles would be his best chance.

"That was disappointing yesterday, to not make the finals of the 300 hurdles," he said. "That will definitely be a goal next year. To make finals in both. It was great to be up on the podium. I did that at indoors, but there are three times as many people here for this."

Covington junior Rayna Horner took sixth in the 400-meter dash in 58.17.

"I felt like I ran really good," she said. "I know my time wasn't as fast as I wanted, but it felt like I was running a good race. I came in seeded fourth and finished sixth, but I felt like I ran well. Two of the girls ran under 57. That is just crazy in this heat."

Horner ran a 57.34 split on the opening leg of the 1,600 relay and teamed with Morgan Lowe, Paige Boehringer and Breanna Kimmel for a seventh place finish in 4:03.87.

"It felt like a good race," Horner said. "You would always like to finish higher, but we are all back next year."

Boehringer agreed.

"I am not going to lie, we would have liked to finish higher," she said. "But, it felt great being up on the podium."

It was Kimmel's first trip to the podium in three years at the state meet.

"I feel like I just keep improving every year," she said. "I do better every year."

And Horner had no complaints as the season came to an end.

"What a great experience for us to be over here," she said. "If you had told me at the beginning of the year I would be at the podium at the state meet twice, I would have expected that. I am happy with that."

As are all 12 Buccs, who returned with medals from the state meet.

The boys 4x400 relay team of (L-R) Gray Harshbarger, Jayce Pond, Zane Barnes and Nathan Lyle are interviewed by Rob Kiser of the Piqua Daily Call after finishing 6th at the state meet.
Rayna Horner earned two state medals by finishing 6th in the 400 meter dash and 7th in the 4x400 meter relay.