Woodmore relay team rallies to place sixth at state

Daniel Sherriff

When Woodmore junior Jordan Beam handed the baton to her teammate junior Olivia Vogelpohl for the final leg of the Division III 4x800-meter relay, the Wildcats were in trouble.

The first three legs of the 4x800-meter relay last Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium saw Woodmore sitting in tenth place.

“We always count on Olivia to kick it in,” said Beam. “We know she can do it. I would say she’s the heart of our team and she really holds it together.”

Vogelpohl stayed in the middle of the pack during her first 1½ laps then found an extra gear and passed several runners down the last 200 meters to pace Woodmore to sixth place with a time of 9:50.93.

The Wildcats placed 12th at the state meet with a team score of 15 points.

“I just focused on my form because that’s when everything usually starts breaking down,” said Vogelpohl. “I know if I keep my form then it will pull me through in the finish.”

The Lady Wildcats had a lot to prove for the 2022 campaign.

The previous season saw the 4x800-meter relay team consist of just one upper classmen and three sophomores. Juniors Emma Hammer, Caydie Buchanan and Vogelpohl were on the 2021 team and were led by then-senior Ava Beam.

The Woodmore quartet defied expectations by punching their ticket to the 2021 state meet. 

Because of COVID, their first taste of the state meet took place at Westerville High School. The pandemic required the state meet to be split up into three separate venues based on division.

The Wildcats took eighth place at the 2021 state meet.

“I think we were really led by the senior on the team,” noted Hammer. “This year I think we have the team aspect more.”

Buchanan added the Wildcats did not rely on only one person to lead the team but shouldered the responsibility on all four shoulders this season to get their time down.

After earning a state berth in one of the most challenging high school track seasons in the State of Ohio the previous year, the Wildcats felt battle-tested.

Once Ava graduated, her younger sister Jordan became the newest member of the team.

Jordan noted it was an exciting feeling to take Ava’s spot on the team.

“It’s fun to try to live up to her and exceed that,” she said. “I know what I can do so it was exciting.”

She added it was a comfortable feeling joining a team that already boasted a year’s worth of experience.

She felt motivated to come in and help keep the momentum rolling.

The Wildcats admitted their times during the regular season were underwhelming.

“We weren’t running bad but we really started picking things up at the end of the season which is what we wanted to happen,” Vogelpohl noted.

Woodmore’s bid for another spot on the podium was in jeopardy as the first three legs struggled to gain ground but Vogelpohl came through in the clutch to vault the Lady Wildcats to sixth place.

“Olivia puts her best into everything she does and when she knew we were tenth she wanted in on that podium and she got it for us,” said Buchanan.

(Daniel Sherriff is the sports editor of the Chagrin Valley Times, Geauga County Times, and Solon Times, sister publications of the Press Newspapers (Metro Press/Suburban Press) published by Douthit Communications.)



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