COLUMBUS - Nine years of sweat and hard work couldn't be stopped by a three-hour lightning delay. It only postpone it.
But, in the end, Covington senior thrower Lauren Christian became Covington girls' fourth state champion, joining Jackie Siefring (long jump, 300 hurdles) and the 2018 1,600-meter relay team after winning the shot put at the Division III state track and field championship at Jesse Owens Stadium with a school record put of 44-7 1-4.
And Christian was immediately brought to tears after Wheelersburg's Paige Emnett fouled on her final attempt in finals.
"It feels incredible," Christian said. "I just wish I my grandmother (the late Elaine Christian) could have been here to see it."
It was the culmination of something that began nine years ago.
"I began throwing in fourth grade," Christian said. "I really believed if I worked hard enough, something like this could happen."
And after a third-place finish last year at state behind two seniors, Christian knew there were high expectations coming into this spring.
"I felt like I was the favorite coming into the season," Christian said. "I had two seniors that really pushed me last year. I also knew there were other good throwers who could put it out there farther than me. And a couple of them did. They were ahead of me coming into this meet."
Christian was seeded second coming into the state meet behind Emnett.
And after the long lightning delay, three very solid puts in the prelims (41-0 3-4, 40-3, 41-9 1-4), Christian was in third place going into the finals.
"The lightning was no big deal," Christian said. "We had the same thing last year. I guess that is just part of it."
Emnett led with a put of 43-2 1-2 and Trista Fintel of Hamler Patrick Henry was second with a put of 42-2 after her final put in prelims.
As Christian warmed up for finals, she consistently had puts near 45-feet.
"I had a feeling something good was going to happen," Covington girls track and field coach David Tobias said.
So did Christian.
"I just had to trust and believe in myself," Christian said.
On her first put in the finals, Christian uncorked her best ever and when her distance of 44-7 1-4 was announced, her family and Covington fans went crazy.
"I beat my school record by six inches I think," Christian said with a smile. "At that point, I knew they (Paige Emnett, Trista Fintel) were chasing me. I wasn't the chaser anymore."
And she continued her consistency with her final two puts of 41-8 1-4 and 43-8 3-4.
"I mean, it wasn't just her winning put," Tobias said. "All six of her puts were really good."
After her final put, it was just a matter of waiting for Fintel and Emnett to take their final attempts.
And Fintel and Emnett both fouled, making Christian a state champion.
"I felt like if it was meant to be, God would be with me," Christian said. "And he was."
Then came the tears of joy from Christian, as her grandmother smiled down from above.