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Christian Commits to Oakland...

Covington senior Lauren Christian won a state championship in the shot put on Friday, while the boys advanced to tomorrow's finals in all three events.
Lauren Christian enjoys a championship moment with her mother, Jennifer.

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.

Lauren Christian gets set to shot put her way to a state championship.

The Covington boys advanced two relay teams and Andrew Cates in the 400 to the finals.

Cates had the seventh fastest time in the 400, 50.17; and teamed with Gray Harshbarger, Alex Shaffer and Cade Schmelzer for the eighth fastest time in the 1,600 (4x400) relay, 3:38.0; and ninth fastest time in the 800 (4x200) relay, 1:31.86.

And Covington overcame Alex Shaffer having to hurdle a runner down on the track in his leg of the 1,600 relay.

"I'm not sure what happened," Shaffer said of having to hurdle the fallen runner. "It happened so fast. I think he tripped and fell when I tried to pass him on the outside and I just reacted. It slowed me down, but I was able to keep running."

The incident did slow Covington down, but it didn't prevent the Buccs from advancing to the finals.

"Sometimes the prelims day is the toughest day," Cates said. "We didn't run a good race in the four-by-two and I have said all along we can take time off in the four-by-four and we can. Today was just about qualifying."

Cates said a year's experience at Jesse Owens Stadium helped.

"We ran over here last year," he said. "For sure (it helped). This is different from any other race we run all year."

Competition continues tomorrow morning at 9:30am.

Andrew Cates advanced to the finals in the 400 meter dash.
Cade Schmelzer runs in the 4x200 meter relay in the semifinals. The Buccs qualified for tomorrow's finals.
Gray Harshbarger runs in the 4x400 relay, which was good for qualifying for Saturday's finals.
Alex Shaffer avoids a falling runner in the 4x400 relay. Despite the adversity, the Buccs managed to advance to tomorrow's finals.