By SCOTT COTTOS
TIFFIN — What Sara Goodard didn’t know couldn’t hurt her.
The St. Wendelin junior had no idea of her seeding for Friday’s pole vault competition in the Division III regional meet at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.
So, with a clear head, Goddard broke her own school record by eight inches at 10-4 to finish second and earn a bid to next week’s state championships.
The top four finishers in each event Friday gained spots in next week’s state meet at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
The area had a total of six state qualifications Friday. Also on the girls side, Van Buren’s 1,600 relay team of Lauren Wise, Carlee Schmelzer, Rachell Resnik and Bri Lasley finished second in 4:05.58, and Resnik added a third in the 800 (2:19.20).
In the boys competition, Van Buren’s Ted Simmons won the 800 in 1:57.44, Lakota’s Kevin Crowe was second in the shot put at 51-5 and Hopewell-Loudon’s 800 relay team of Elancio Velasquez, Patric Gase, Noah Breidenbach and Eli Tooker finished fourth in 1:32.14.
Goddard literally made an outrageous elevation by finishing second to Arlington’s Willow Thompson (10-8) after having entered the competition tied for the No. 14 seeding at 8-6.
“I didn’t know that,” Goddard said of where she was seeded. “Wow. I’m glad I didn’t know that.”
While advancing to the state meet was in her thoughts, it wasn’t an expectation by any means.
“I was hoping for sixth,” she said. “I didn’t know I would go to state. It’s a complete surprise, but it’s a good surprise.”
Goddard said a switch to a bigger pole played into her ability to go higher than ever.
“Usually, the pole that I used today is a lot harder for me,” she said. “I think today with the adrenaline and it’s warm out, the pole was a lot nicer.”
Goddard is in her second year of pole vaulting and her first under the guidance of Liberty-Benton pole vaulting coach Tim Decooman, who has helped many area youngsters do well in the event. She’s also assisted by Amanda Hotaling, a former state champion from North Baltimore.
“Last year I started and I didn’t really have a coach to help me specialize in pole vault,” she said. “So I started working with Amanda. I did gymnastics with her when I was younger. She helped me out and then she brought me to Tim and Tim just helped me a whole lot. He’s a really great coach.”
Resnik, a senior, is on her way to state in two events for the second consecutive year. She qualified in the 800 and the 3,200 relay last season.
“Last year we got fifth in the 4-by-4 (in the regional), so this was like our redemption run today,” she said.
Van Buren gained representation in both the boys and girls 800 when Simmons followed Resnik’s run with his victory.
Simmons, a senior, struggled with an injury to his lower left leg much of last season, and his only regional event was the 3,200 relay, in which the Black Knights were unable to reach state. Those circumstances made this year’s qualification special.
“My legs hurt a little bit, but most of all it feels good because I left everything out there,” he said. “Actually, it was hard, but I feel great at the same time.”
Liberty Center senior Nick Demaline, who will compete at the University of Kentucky next year, dominated the shot put with a Division III state record throw of 68-10½, but Lakota’s Crowe led the rest of the pack.
“He’s been shooting for getting over 50 all year. (Assistant) coach (Larry) Topor gave him a thing where he was going to give him a Subway card, and big guys like to eat,” Raiders coach Dave Ritter said with a smile. “He’s been working real hard at trying to get over 50. His whole series was either touching 50 or over 50. It was just a great day.”
Diligence also paid off for Hopewell-Loudon’s 800 relay team.
“It’s unbelievable,” junior Patric Gase, who ran the second leg, said. “We’ve been working hard all season on that relay. We’ve been reaching for 1:32s. … State was our biggest goal.”
Tiffin Calvert won the boys regional team championship by a 60-57 margin over Archbold. Van Buren was the highest-placing area team, finishing 21st with 11 points.
Tinora topped Liberty Center 71½-50 for the girls team title. Van Buren, last year’s team champion, was 16th with 16 points.
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