Girls Track and Field | Rittman's Pyper Gibson wins three events at district meet

·5 min read

CRESTON — Already with two victories under her belt, Pyper Gibson found herself in an unusual position Friday in her final race of the day.

The Rittman junior trailed from the start of the 3,200-meter run at the Norwayne Division III District and found herself still behind a fast-paced start from Waynedale’s Kylee Gray with less than three laps to go.

“It definitely freaked me out, because I'm used to getting out in the two-mile with nobody by me, but then there were all these people, and I was like, 'Whoa. What is this?’", Gibson said. “I was like in sixth place (early on), so I was like, 'Get in fourth.' Then I got to third, then second and (Gray) got a big lead on me and I kept telling myself, 'You got it. You got it.'

“I knew if I slowly tried to pace and keep going, that I could pull it out in the finish.”

That mindset worked for Gibson, who capped off her three-win day with an impressive come-from-behind victory in two-mile, crossing in 11:28.59, holding of Gray (11:38.73), as both locals advanced to next week’s Massillon Perry Regional.

“I went out the way I ran my PR (11:36) and I went out at a pace that was comfortable for me,” Gray said. “Unfortunately, today I think the heat kind of kicked me, but I was I really happy that I was able to do this on a such a hot day. I think this was a really big confidence booster heading into regionals. I'm really proud of myself.”

The first-place run for Gibson came on the heels of a pair of dominant wins, the first in the 1,600 (5:06) by over five  full seconds against Columbia’s Madeleine Finton and a four-plus second victory in the 800 (2:19.69) against Katie Lane of Mogadore,

“I just kept telling myself that this is my race and I needed to race myself,” Gibson said. “Recently I've been thinking about other times and I'm like 'Oh, I can't run that,' but really, it's just me and the clock.”

Merrick Gibson also advanced to regionals in the 1,600 and 800, placing third in both races, while Loudonville’s Tess Shultz placed fourth in the mile.

Gibson’s multi-win day, along with a meet-record performance from Orrville’s Ainsley Hamsher in the pole vault and Dalton’s 4x100 relay, highlighted a day that saw the Bulldogs and Rittman take third and fourth, respectively, in the final team standings.

Portage County rivals Rootstown and Mogadore took the top two spots overall.

Orrville's Ainsley Hamsher is all smiles as she gives the thumb's up to her coaches after winning the pole vault.
Orrville's Ainsley Hamsher is all smiles as she gives the thumb's up to her coaches after winning the pole vault.

Hamsher cleared the bar at 12-3 with just one miss on the day before attempting to break the area record with the height set at 12-9. She came close on both the first and third attempt, but came up just short of the mark.

It capped off a busy day for the senior, who also put together a third-place finish in the 100 hurdles in 16.65 to advance in that event.

“I cleared one bar, checked out, ran the hurdles, came back and kept going,” Hamsher said. “It felt really good today. We had a tailwind, which was nice because it allowed me to move my step back again. We moved up poles and that felt great. I love the nice warm weather and having this many people out here.”

Hamsher won’t be alone as teammate Catrina Rice cleared a personal-best 10 feet to finish district runner-up.

Dalton’s 4x1 relay of Courtney Weaver, Lauren Clos, Macy Seeman and Brianna Chenevey combined to clock a 50.55 to take a thrilling final against Lake Center Christian (50.85).

And, like the quartet has done all season, it was about the little things.

“We just focused on handoffs,” Chenevey said. “That's always the scary things with relays, and I always try to keep that in the back of my mind.

“I always tell our whole group to just get the baton in each other's hands and then we can take care of the rest.”

Both Clos and Chenevey advanced in the 100 and 200, Clos taking the 100 over her teammate en route to a second-place finish in 12.59, while Chenevey was runner-up in the 200 in 25.52 to beat Clos by one spot.

“I just had to keep going, because I heard everyone else, and I was like, 'I have to make it' I just had to go,” Clos said of the 100 final. “It's always comforting to have a teammate, though. To know that she's always going to push me, that's always a good thing.”

The Bulldogs also advanced their 4x4 with a second-place run in 4:14.30, with Smithville taking third in 4:15.39. The Smithies also had a pair of 400 runners qualify for Massillon— freshman Claire Hess taking third (1:00.99) and sophomore Maddy Lengacher (1:01.14) in fourth.

Speaking of second-place finishes, Loudonville’s Corri Vermilya had just that in the 300 hurdles. On the heels of just missing a regional berth in the 100 hurdles, the sophomore stormed out of the blocks and picked up key positioning before a run of 48.92.

Waynedale’s Skye Morris was right behind Vermilya in third (49.44), adding another regional-qualifying spot after an second-place finish in the 100 hurdles in 16.55.

“This means a lot to me, especially since last year I got fourth and barely made it out,” Morris said. “I knew the girl from Rootstown (Marinna Atanmo) was really good, so my goal was to try and get second. I've been working hard for this and I'm really happy about it.”’

Vermilya and the Redbirds 4x2 relay team also advanced with a run of 1:49.87, finishing in third ahead of Smithville (1:50.94).

In Friday’s field-event finals, the Northwestern tandem of Emily Thompson and Chase Amlotte took third and fourth, respectively, in the discus. Thompson, who won the shot put on Wednesday, had a toss of 108-1, while Amlotte recorded a mark of 103-11.

Loudonville’s Sydney Polen was third in the long jump to qualify for regionals, clearing 16-7.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: Track and Field: Rittman's Pyper Gibson wins three events at districts