Hiland star sprinter Isaiah Yoder will have to wait another year to secure his dream date at Columbus.
The Div. III day at the Navarre regional did not turned out as he had hoped, as one bitter disappointment and a great effort that left him on the outside looking in will have to spur him to continue his pursuit of a berth to the state track and field meet.
Yoder has been a force all season long, and coming into the regional meet, he felt he had a great shot at advancing, especially in the 200, where he was one of a handful of sprinters vying for a spot that only four could achieve.
His effort in the 100-meter sprint left him out of the finals, but he knew that was not his best race. Then came Friday, May 27, finals day, where he never got a chance to carry the baton in Hiland’s 4×200 relay. The final leg of the event, Yoder could only stare in disbelief and then drop to the ground in agony as he watched the hand-off between teammates Joe Wengerd and Lorin Hershberger go awry, the baton banging out of the lane, disqualifying the Hawks from finishing, and eliminating them from gaining a spot on the podium, a spot which would have been assured had they not been disqualified.
However, Yoder still could push that pain into his 200 race, where he had one last shot.
Yoder fired off a 22.91, a time that would have nearly got him on the podium at state last season, but it would not be enough in the meat-grinder final, as even a push mid-way through the race put him in position. He would place sixth, a podium placing, but not what he had wanted.
It will have to serve as inspiration for next year for a runner who caught fire after watching last year’s state meet.
“I saw how big the stadium was, and how big the crowd was, and was just in awe and wanted to be there competing,” said Yoder. “Everything there was so much bigger than I have ever been a part of. It made me want to be down on that track so badly. I was going to work so hard to get there.”
Yoder even made a promise to himself. If he worked as hard as he could and didn’t get to state this season, he would work that much harder and get there in his senior campaign.
That is what he will have to aim for now that this regional is over with a near-miss.
While he didn’t make his dream of competing at state come true this year, it has been a season of greatness for the Hawks junior, as he has won every time out in dual meets and done extremely well in every single invitational, in putting up times that are state-comparable.
“It’s been an amazingly fun season,” said Yoder. “This is so much more fun than last year. Just being able to compete with the big boys says a lot. Nobody expects anything big from a Hiland sprinter, but I have worked so much harder this year than last. This whole year has been extremely rewarding, and thinking about how far I have come makes me smile every time. If I continue to work, and put my trust in God and in my coach, I think I can get where I want to be.”
That place would be down on the track at Jesse Owens memorial Stadium in Columbus, competing with the best of the best for a spot on the podium.