There are times when you fight to win, and then there are the times when you scratch and claw for every tiny little inch you can gain.
The Dalton Bulldogs girls’ 4×100 team was scratching and clawing for all they were worth during the running of the 4×100 relay in the 42nd annual girls state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Memorial stadium in Columbus June 4.
Dalton’s team of Madeline Zaleski, Sarah Doty, Lora Knopp and Cortney Carathers needed every single ounce of energy to pull out a fourth-place finish in the 4×100 relay, their combined effort earning them All-Ohio accolades.
While they didn’t win, the reason every single atom of effort was important was because they defeated Sardonia Eastern by one millisecond, the time it takes for the flash to go off in a camera.
Doty, a sophomore, said it was an honor to run at the state meet. “I am super-happy to be able to run here and do as well as we did,” said Doty immediately after the race. “My adrenaline is still pumping right now.”
Knopp, a junior, said the season has been an awesome one, as they started to figure things out in terms of who would be running and eventually, the all-important baton changes.
“This wasn’t our best time ever, but considering we are here at state, under this kind of pressure, I’ll take it,” said Knopp.
Zaleski, the team’s lone senior, said what makes this year such a great one is that it ended in a much different way than the team’s previous two trips to Columbus to compete in the event.
“The last two years we came, we didn’t even make the finals,” said Zaleski. “Just making the finals was our goal coming in. To finish fourth like we did, that was special. We ran well and we placed, so we get to celebrate.”
Zaleski said early in the season, the relay team was struggling to find its fourth member, until Knopp kind of settled into the role. That was a key, said Zaleski. “We all kind of came together and everything really started to click as the season went along,” said Zaleski.
Carathers, who also qualified for state in the 200 but missed out on qualifying for the finals a day earlier, placing 14th, was not even going to dwell on that race. She was in much more of a mood to rejoice with her teammates.
“The atmosphere here is the greatest, and especially in the relays, because you have people to lean on, and we mesh so w3ell together,” said Carathers. “Plus, it is so much fun to have people to celebrate an accomplishment like this with. Being here, and being able to celebrate like this with my teammates is just as good as it gets.”