JUNE 2, 2018 - COLUMBUS
Covington coach Dave Tobias is familiar with state competition as an athlete and a coach.
He also knows what it’s like to bring home state hardware as he quarterbacked the Covington football team to a runner-up trophy in 1979.
But as much as the trophy from his football playing days means to Tobias, the state runner-up trophy his Covington girls track team earned means so much more to him - which was evident as he struggled to form words during post-meet interviews.
"I knew," Tobias started to say as he struggled to fight back the emotion of the weekend. "I knew when Rayna (Horner) was closing hard around the final turn (of the 4x400 relay) that we had it. I just knew it."
The chase for the runner-up trophy came down the the final event as Covington was sitting at 22 team points and Malvern had 30 points.
And the relay team of Breanna Kimmel, Paige Boehringer, Morgan Lowe and Rayna Horner came through in the most dramatic fashion - edging McDonald (3:56.90) in school record time of 3:56.71.
"I'm speechless," Tobias said. "We thought we had something coming into the season, but you never know. But once we got to districts and regionals it was a matter of qualifying in enough relays and individual events to give us a chance (at state)."
That Covington did as Lauren Christian placed third in the shot and seventh in the discus on Friday and Rayna Horner followed with a third place finish in the 400 meter run on Saturday.
The Lady Buccs put itself within striking distance of a team trophy by finishing second in the 4x200 meter as the team of Rayna Horner, Tori Lyle, Morgan Lowe and Breanna Kimmel crossed the finish line at 1:44.52.
This set the stage for a thrilling finish in the final event of the state meet - the 4x400 meter relay.
"That's the first state championship relay team in school history," said longtime Covington coach and current volunteer assistant coach Ron Schultz. "It's also only the second time in school history we've won a team trophy, the first being when Kelly Deeter scored all of our team points in 1983."
It was also a conclusion to a memorable run for the Covington girls, including the three competitors who were on hand as alternates (Shae Robinson, Ashlyn Plessinger and Maci White) athletes who contributed greatly throughout the regular season and the post-season tournament.