Ariel Wentworth took the baton in the final leg of Garaway’s 4×800 regional relay with the chances of the Lady Pirates’ quartet of runners advancing to the state meet looking bleak.
Garaway had run well, but still found themselves on the outside looking in, lurking in fifth place, about 50 meters behind claiming the fourth and final spot for the state meet.
Even with about 200 yards to go, Wentworth trailed Norwayne’s final runner by a good 30 meters.
That was when Wentworth found another gear, and went roaring past Maddie Ball to reach the line first, giving Garaway an inspirational comeback spot at state.
“When I got the baton, she was about 50 meters out, and I thought to myself that if she isn’t an 800 runner, and she is just a quarter meter runner, I can go get her,” said Wentworth. “I got about half way in and I’d only closed about 20 yards, and I thought she still looked strong. I didn’t think I could get her. Even with 200 meters to go she still looked good.”
That is because Ball is a terrific 800 runner.
However, that was about the time Wentworth recognized a slight lessening in Ball’s pace, and she attacked with a renewed spirit.
“I didn’t think I’d get her until the very end,” said Wentworth.
With an immeasurably talented squad from St. Thomas Aquinas setting the track, regional and state record with a blistering 9:09.65, and Canton Central Catholic also running great, there was no chance of winning for the Lady Pirates. It was the coveted fourth spot they wanted, and senior Rachel Wentworth gave them the chance early, running a strong leg and putting her team in position in third place.
“I honestly didn’t expect to be up that high,” said the elder Wentworth. The All-Ohioan in both track and cross country has battled a leg injury all season long, but she wasn’t about to let up with her career in the balance. “After lap one I found myself in the mix at the front, so I worked to stay in there and I was able to do that.”
Sophomore Claudia Miller then took the baton and despite running a solid leg, dropped back into fourth, losing ground to the fourth place Bobcats in the process.
“What an incredible experience for me to get to go to state with my teammates as a sophomore,” said Claudia Miller. “The moment is kind of big, and kind of overwhelming, but as long as I have my teammates to share this experience with, it is going to be great.”
They had to stay within striking distance, and Jocelyn Miller did just that, running a great third leg to draw past Kirtland and cut the distance behind Norwayne down to the 50-meter mark.
“”I thought it was a good race for me in terms of being able to close the gap and move up a spot,” said Jocelyn Miller. “We all knew exactly where we were and what we had to catch to qualify. It was so exciting, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share this moment with my awesome teammates.”
Ariel Wentworth then took the baton and ran the Lady Pirates all the way to Columbus.
Following the race, all four girls gathered together past the finish line, sharing the rollercoaster of emotions, ranging form laughter to tears of joy, then shared a little prayer, something they do win or lose after each race.
The chemistry and camaraderie of this quartet is evident, and none of them take any credit for their success without giving glory to God and kudos to their teammates.
For Rachel Wentworth, the moment represents something she has worked toward her whole varsity career.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Rachel Wentworth. “This season has been a bunch of unexpectedness for me, but to get to go to state with my teammates is so rewarding. I haven’t been working just this year to help get the 4×800 team to state, I have been working for this for four years. We have always been right there but have never made it, so this is truly a dream come true, and I am so proud of my teammates. This is so much better getting to go to state with my teammates.”
The effort of each of the four and one incredible final push down the homestretch allows the Lady Pirates to perform on the biggest stage in Ohio High School track, at the state meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.