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2018 State Track: Day 1...
2018 State Track: Day 2...
Jett Murphy at State...

2018 Track Previews...

Jett Murphy Commits...
Rayna Hornor Commits...


It was a monumental first day of the state track meet as Jett Murphy claimed a state title in the pole vault, Lauren Christian earned two state medals and the Buccs qualified for the finals in several events.

Jett Murphy clears the bar on his way to a state championship Friday.

Story provided by Rob Kiser, Piqua Daily Call

"The Jett" Wins State Title...

All the blood. All the sweat. All the tears.

It was all worth it.

And the big smile on Covington senior pole vaulter Jett Murphy's face told the story as he stood atop the podium at the Division III state track and field meet Friday night after winning the pole vault with a school record 15-foot vault.

And Murphy wasn't going to be denied.

Not after an ACL injury as a freshman, an ACL injury earlier this spring and a meniscus injury early this spring.

"I was really worried about the beginning of the season," Murphy said. "I wasn't jumping very well. But, right now, I feel great. I have never felt better."

The accomplishment tells you something special about Murphy.

"He is just an amazing kid," Newton coach Nick Rhoades, who helps Murphy with the pole vault, said. "He has been vaulting basically all spring with some issues with his knee. He shows you the support he has with his family and the Covington coaching staff and community."

Friday was a tough competition from the start.

Murphy had only one miss - at 14-4 as the bar was moved 15-feet with five vaulters still on.

Murphy was the last to take his first attempt at 15-0 - and the only one to make it on his first attempt.

As he landed on the mat, he pumped his first and had a big smile.

"I wasn't necessarily thinking that would win it," Murphy said. "I knew it would put me in the top two. It is a height I have been wanting to make for a long time and it gave me the school record."

Rhoades thought it was even bigger than that.

"When you get to 15-feet, if you make it on your first attempt, you are going to win," Rhoades said.

But, Hunter Garretson of Newcomerstown cleared 15-0 on this third attempt, making it a two-man competition.

The bar was raised to 15-4 - and if neither vaulter cleared that height, Murphy would win on misses.

After both missed on the first two attempts, Garretson had one last attempt at 15-4.

When he failed, Murphy was state champion.

"You never root against anybody," Rhoades said. "Because, if he makes it, he deserves to win. But, you are nervous."

Murphy just missed at 15-4, but it didn't matter.

"I started vaulting in eighth grade," Murphy said. "I missed my freshman year with an injury. When I got fourth as a sophomore and third as a junior, that's probably when I started thinking about winning."

And it was worth all the blood, sweat and tears it took to get there.

Lauren Christian finished third in the shot put and seventh in the discus.

Christian Podiums Twice…
Covington's Lauren Christian already knew how the throwing events worked at the Division III state track and field meet Friday at Jesse Owens Stadium.

"Just one good throw. That's all you need," she said.

And that mantra carried her throughout the day, as she placed seventh in the discus to start out and then, after a lengthy weather delay, climbed up the ladder and placed third in the shot put.

That one good throw in the discus proved to be her first one at 122-11, but it was good enough to earn her a spot on the podium after she entered the event seeded 11th after last week’s regional.

And after some early struggles in the shot put, Christian — who was seeded second after last week’s regional in the event - scored a 43-4.25 on her third and final preliminary throw, shooting herself up to second place in the standings and likely solidifying a spot in the finals — and that’s when the rain and lightning hit, causing a nearly two-hour delay that did not phase her.

"I felt pretty good, because I got my 43 out," Christian said. "I felt really good with that. Coming back in, I was just like 'go for it with all you have,' and that's what I did."

And in the second flight, only Leipsic's Grace Rigel was able to pass her, launching a 46-0 toss to take the lead away from top-seeded Izzy Cline from Newton Falls.

Christian bettered her own mark on her second throw in the finals, letting loose a 44-1.5, but Cline hit a 46-3 on the final throw to win it. Both Cline and Rigel are seniors, while Christian is only a junior. Last season, Christian placed sixth in the shot put and 14th in the discus.

"It feels really good," Christian said. "Last year, I had a lot of pressure on me because I wasn't even supposed to make finals, and last year was really tough competition, too. But this year, I came in relaxed and had that experience from last year, and I feel like that really helped me a lot."

Rayna Horner hands off to Tori Lyle in the 4x200 relay where Covington recorded the fastest qualifying time for tomorrow's finals.

Ready to make history...
The Covington relay teams continue to lower records and have a chance to make history today.

Both the 800 relay (Rayna Horner, Tori Lyle, Morgan Lowe, Breanna Kimmel) and the 1,600 relay (Kimmel, Paige Boehringer, Lowe, Horner) have the fastest time heading into tomorrow’s finals of 1:45.10 and 3:58.63 respectively.

Covington lowered its school record in the 1,600 relay.

Covington had the fast time in the 1,600 relay by almost three seconds.

"If we win, we win," Horner said. "Lowering the record (in the 1,600 relay) is always a goal. The important thing was getting a good seed (lane placement) for tomorrow and we did that."

Kimmel isn't thinking about a possible state championship.

"Personally, I would rather not think about that too much," she said. "We wanted to go out and run a good race today and we did that."

The same four girls were seventh in the 1,600 relay a year ago.

"I think it will help (having been there before)," Boehringer said. "I think there will be less nerves. I think we will be a little calmer."

Lowe ran a strong third leg in the 1,600 relay to open up a lead.

"That's the idea," Lowe said. "I am going out there and chasing."

Horner also has high hopes in the 400, where she has the second fastest time of 57.51.

Dakota Stamm of Archbold ran a 56.91 in the first heat.

"All our times are really close - in the 56s and 57s," Horner said. "It will just come down to what happens tomorrow."

Kimmel missed qualifying for the finals of the 100. She had the 11th fastest time of 12.84.

Cade Harshbarger qualified for the finals in the 110 and 300 meter hurdles.

Too more hurdles...
Covington senior Case Harshbarger has a much better feeling this year.

Harshbarger advanced to the finals in both hurdle races.

Harshbarger has the fifth fastest time in the 300 hurdles, 39.73 and eighth fastest time in the 110 hurdles, 15.23.

"It just feels differently over here this year," Harshbarger said. "I just feel a lot more comfortable."

Harshbarger will be chasing Cole Smith of Smithville in both races.

"He is good, there is no question about that," Harshbarger said. "That is good. He will push me."

Two relays...
Covington also advanced two relay teams to the finals.

The 800 relay (Alex Shaffer, Gray Harshbarger, Nathan Lyle, Tyler Freeman) have the ninth fastest time, 1:31.78; and the 1,600 relay (Gray Harshbarger, Andrew Cates, Freesman, Layle has the seventh fastest time, 3:26.19.

"It was about making the finals today," Lyle said. "We had a much faster heat (in the 1,600 relay). The goal is to get up on the podium."

Morgan Lowe heads down the home stretch of the 4x400 meter relay where Covington recorded the fastest qualifying time for the finals.
Gray Harshbarger takes the handoff from Alex Shaffer in the 4x200 relay.
Rayna Horner qualified for the finals in the 400 meter dash by winning her heat in the prelims.
Ty Freeman sprints to the finish line in the 4x400 relay.
Breanna Kimmel gets the handoff from Morgan Lowe in the anchor leg of the 4x200 relay.