Running distance can afford a person plenty of time to think when they take countless step after step, stride after stride.
One would have to forgive West Holmes senior Michelle Hostettler if her mind wandered a tad as she traversed the track at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in the Div. II state track meet in Columbus on Saturday, June 3.
It was there in the 3200-meter run that the career of the most highly decorated and honored distance runner in school history ran the final race of her illustrious career.
“This doesn’t even seem real,” Hostettler said of the end of her outstanding, record-breaking career. “It was such a long ride, and yet it was over in such a hurry. It’s so weird that it’s over.”
Her 11:13.82 placed her eighth, marking the third time she has adorned a medal at the state meet in the 3200 and stood on the podium in celebration of her All-Ohio status.
That medal adds to her ever-growing accessories she has collected throughout her career. As a freshman in 2014 she teamed up with Emily Molnar, Alexis Kandel and Hannah Clark in the 4×800 relay to fashion a second-place finish. That year she also helped the Lady Knights earn the team’s highest finish ever, a runner-up spot in the overall team standings.
As a sophomore she placed sixth in the 4×800 relay. She united with Clark, Hannah Schlegel and Amber Murphy to again crawl up on to the podium with a sixth-place finish. She added her first individual that year by placing fifth in the 3200 in 11:07.45.
In her junior year the 4×800 team narrowly missed a medal, placing ninth, but again Hostettler found herself on the podium when she ran an 11:10.17 to garner her second consecutive fifth-place finish.
Now this year she caps off her career as not only one of the greatest track and field athletes ever to walk the halls of West Holmes High School, but also one of its most decorated athletes in any sport.
Hostettler said all of the medals and accolades aside, she will forever remember the many people and blessings she experienced along the way.
“I’ll remember the opportunities. Each one of them was so special,” Hostettler said. “And my coach Michael Ewing, he has been great. He has done so much work with me and has gotten me to where I am today. I know I wouldn’t be where I am without him.”
Hostettler went on to note that she believes her sophomore season was the one year she will remember the most because it was her breakout year that put her on the map of Ohio’s top distance runners.
“This track season has been tough on me. It has been mentally tough on me,” Hostettler said. “This result isn’t what I wanted, but I am not as disappointed as I have been in past years. I am glad I made it here and made the podium. I really wanted to just enjoy my last time here, and I have.”
Hostettler also has been a consummate team player her entire career, and for her, watching all three of the Knights’ other athletes at state qualify for the finals and make All-Ohio also was exciting.
“That is so awesome,” Hostettler said of fellow seniors Josh Goudy and Taylor Yerian and junior Brayden Chaney making All-Ohio. “I know Taylor has gone through so much to get back down here, and seeing her make it to the podium was a thrill. I know Josh wanted to go out with a bang, and he did, and Brayden has been something special this year, and he’ll be back for more next year. It’s sweet that we are all going home with a medal.”
Hostettler will now hang this medal with the 15 others she has at home. Her own personal wall of fame, where all of her medals hang, are a testament to her incredible work ethic, desire to be the best, and willingness to sacrifice so much for herself, her school and her community.