For the majority of high school runners, competing in the OHSAA Div. II state track and field meet would be a massive pleasure. For most kids, running and taking fifth place, earning All-Ohio status would be a dream come true.
However, West Holmes junior Michelle Hostettler is not most kids, and her fifth-place finish in the state meet of the girls’ Div. II 3200 left her wanting a whole lot more.
“It just never happened today, I never got it going,” said an emotional Hostettler following the race.
Hostettler has seen the rigors of the state meet before, earning the fifth-place, the same finish as last year at state. In that 2015 race she flew to the front of the pack, before eventually fading from the lead group and falling back to fifth.
This time around, the junior record-holder at West Holmes bided her time near the back of the field, waiting for a time to pounce.
“I went out slow on purpose, because usually girls go out really hard, so I wanted to negative split because I knew that was usually what wins this race,” said Hostettler.
A negative split is running a slower pace than what a runner would normally produce, and Hostettler, having experienced the faster early pace and seeing herself fade late last year, took the approach that takes a huge amount of patience and self-discipline.
However, as she ran 12th in the early going, and eventually moved up to 10th, a pack of four runners broke away from the rest of the field on lap three of the eight-lap race. That pack included eventual champion and state cross country champ Abby Nichols of Alter, who ran a sizzling 10:55.99, as well as Carrollton’s Maddie Dunlap, a runner whom Hostettler defeated with relative ease several times this season.
That left Hostettler in a huge hole, near the back of the trailing pack. She made a move to the front of that pack on the fourth lap, and remained there, throughout. But when it came time for the final kick, shoe found the gap between herself and the lead pack too much to overcome, pulling into the wire in a time of 11:10.17, a solid time, but not one that she was used to running.
At the end of April, Hostettler ran a sub-11, which would have put her right in the mix for a state title, or at the very least would have kept her in that elite lead pack.
“It just wasn’t a good finish,” said Hostetler. “I tried my best, but my time was well off of what I have run this year, and it wasn’t even as good as my finishing time last year. That was disappointing, but I ran my best. The strategy just didn’t work out.”
That leaves Hostettler looking at next year to make that one final push to improve in the standings at state. Considering her relentless work ethic and drive to be the best, there is a good chance she will use this minor set-back to drive her toward bigger and better things.
“I don’t want to make it sound like I am not happy to be an All-Ohioan again, “said Hostettler.
“It is an honor. But I will definitely remember this moment and use it to push for next year. I am not a person who can hold back, and I am willing to do whatever I have to do get better.”
Anyone who knows the Lady Knights record-holder knows that truer words have never been spoken.