Woodmore adds to sports history with girls track state title

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

“This is as good as it gets.”
That was Jack Nicholson’s famous line from the movie of the same name (though I can’t remember if he was being serious or sarcastic).
For the Woodmore Wildcats girls track team, nothing will beat achieving the highest honor, a state track and field championship, one that came from some gutsy performances from a variety of athletes, including Azure Travis, who won championships in the 100-meter hurdles (14.42 seconds) and the 300 hurdles (43.82). She was also part of the 4x400 relay team that finished second in 3:56.29 and included Olivia Vogelpohl, Emma Hammer and Ariana Florio. (Only five teams in Division III state meet history have run faster times.)
Woodmore won the Division III state championship with 37 points, three points ahead of Creston Norwayne, who finished in second with 34.
“(The girls) didn’t know where we were going into the 4x400 relay. We knew that if we had gotten fourth in the event, we’d tie with Norwayne, and if we finished third or better, we’d win. (But) the girls didn’t know that,” said Woodmore coach Jim McMahon. “After the meet, we were kind of living in the moment – super excited for each other, and the coaches were there, shocked and really excited. It was a really special moment, and we were all sharing it together.
“Going in, we thought we had an outside shot (at winning state). Ohio Mile Split made projections and had us finishing sixth. See where we stand. We kept it kind of, hush, hush, but we knew it wasn’t impossible if we went crazy. That conversation started getting real after the 300 hurdles,” McMahon said.
It is the second state championship for the girls track team, and the seventh overall in school history.
But it almost didn’t happen.
In the prelims, Travis fell after the last hurdle and got back up to finish ninth overall, earning the last spot in the finals before winning it all.
“She’s one of those girls that is in that elite category — she shows up, her mindset is ready to roll, she just wants to succeed,” said McMahon. “She also showed some resiliency because of what happened in the 300 hurdle prelims, and she came back the next day and ran an amazing race from lane nine. We told her, ‘You got that spot, and do something crazy, make something special happen.’ That showed a lot.”
The other top finishers included Hammer, who was fourth in the 800 in 2:17.26; Rahzio Rios, who finished ninth in the 400 in 59.82 and Vogelpohl, who was 10th in the 1600 in 5:15.27. The 4x800 relay team of Hammer, Vogelpohl, Jordan Beam and Caydie Buchanan finished fifth in 9:46.15.
McMahon talked about a school located in such a small town achieving amazing heights.
“That was also another special part of this ride for the Woodville and Elmore communities. No matter the size of the school, if you make good decisions, do the right thing, special things can happen,” said McMahon, now in his sixth year as the coach of the team. “We had a group of girls that focused on technique and mechanics and stuck together. All of a sudden, you’ve got a strong group of girls, and special things can happen.”
Woodmore athletic director Steve Barr talked about the Wildcats reaching the summit.
“It’s pretty unbelievable. We had an inkling that we had a chance maybe to do what they did. But probably realistically, it was a dream more than anything else,” he said. “Once things came together, we were in a position where this could happen. It’s pretty unbelievable to think about it then have it happen.”
This was Woodmore’s final year in the Northern Buckeye Conference as it will move to the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division next season.
“Hopefully, it means big things for the future. Those kids are great kids, and they would certainly be great role models for kids that are younger at this age that might look up to them. Whether it comes to fruition and that kind of thing happens, let’s hope so. Whether those kids were great athletes, they are great role models just as people,” said Barr. “We’ll see down the road whether it pays dividends.
“It was a pretty special weekend for the parents and relatives. We’ve even heard from some former athletes. It’s touched a lot of people, it’s pretty unbelievable,” he said.
It was an accomplished group of seniors that lead the way — Rios, Vogelpohl, Beam, Alayna Hahn and Paige Helmke. The class has had a great run, winning league and sectional titles in basketball, advancing to the regional finals in soccer and ending Eastwood’s 22-year winning streak in the conference in track and field.
“It’s probably been since that group in the 1990s with track and cross country since we’ve had those kinds of accomplishments, across the board in multiple sports for multiple years. Obviously, they’re front-and-center on why it’s happened, and hopefully they’re setting the bar for future classes, and we’ll see what happens,” said Barr. “It’s been kind of like the glory years back with Beth Perkins and Lindsey Hamilton in the 1990s. Same kind of situation – pretty good classes, pretty good groups. Normally, it takes more than a class to make it happen. This senior class has had a lot to do with our success. We’ve had pretty good success in those sports for the previous four or five years. It takes a few people to be able to pull these team accomplishments off, no one person you can look at,” he said.


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