In an bizarre sort of way, Malvern sophomore speedster Zoe Moser and senior thrower Kelci Hulit are like the Odd Couple. Hulit is a powerfully built and tall athlete with all kinds of strength while Moser is a petite burner with a sprinter’s build who seemingly possesses nine different gears to make her go faster.
While one is big and strong and the other is small and fast, both have one thing in common right now, that being that they both qualified for two separate events in the Div. III state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium with stellar performances at the Perry regional. The other is that the two are part of the Hornets’ 4-by-100 team, which, while it seems suits Moser to a tee, also has the multi-talented Hulit as part of the foursome that includes Jasmine Goldsworthy and Lauren Foster. That team also made it to state, and together they all helped Malvern earn the team third place in Div. III.
Moser, who finished fifth in both the 100- and 200-meter races at state last season in 12.58 and 25.76, respectively, as a freshman, took second in the regional 100 in 12.39, behind LaBrae’s Dynesty Ervin’s winning time of 12.37 in a photo-finish race. She earned a bit of revenge later in the day when she posted a stadium-record-winning time of 24.90 in the 200, besting none other than Ervin, who took second in 25.32.
“It was fun to get a little revenge on her,” Moser said with a laugh. “But I’m glad I am moving on, and second place here, I can live with it.”
The difference in Moser’s attitude between last year and this year is leaps and bounds. This year the sophomore has been through the rigors of regionals and state, and her season has been a great one, so she entered the regional and now state brimming with confidence.
“I know what to expect. I know what I need to do to compete and to win, and I know what I have to do to make myself better,” Moser said. “This time around was a lot more relaxed and a lot more fun than last year when everything was so new to me.”
For Hulit, a return to state is a welcomed relief, and she wasn’t exactly thrilled with her effort in the shot put, where her throw of 38-09.25 got her a second-place finish. She rectified that two days later by winning the discus with ease with a gigantic have of 142-02, 4 feet more than her seeding distance.
“I wasn’t happy with the shot, but luckily I get six more chances to throw at state, so hopefully I can improve that,” Hulit said. “In disc I got my PR, and I’ve been chasing that since last year, so that feels good to finally break through.”
Hulit earned sixth place at state last season in the discus while just missing the podium in the shot, where she placed ninth. That alone serves as a way to spur her on to perform even better.
As for making the switch from thrower to sprinter, Hulit just laughed it off. “It’s all my team,” she said with a chuckle. “They are the ones who make us go.”
Things did not bode well for Malvern’s chances of moving on to state in the 4-by-100. As the final pass of the baton took place with 100 meters to go, it appeared as though Moser had to make up a good 30 meters and pass four runners.
Moser found one of those “other” gears great runners possess and started closing the gap, picking off runners one by one until she zeroed in on Springfield for the fourth and final qualifying spot. Somehow she found yet another gear and blitzed past Ciera Latronica to grab fourth, and she nearly reeled in Rootstown’s Meeghan Han just for good measure.
“When I got the baton, all I could think of was ‘run fast, run fast,’” Moser said. “I looked back for the baton and saw Lauren coming, and I knew I had to go hard, and so I took off.”
Was there ever a doubt in the gifted sprinter’s mind when she got the baton? “Yeah, a little bit,” Moser said. “We didn’t have a great race, but once I started making a move, I thought it was possible.”
The team effort, which included a district title and the third-place finish at regionals, is something new for Malvern. Hulit said the entire team effort this season has been something special.
“We’ve never really had good team accomplishments, but we have been working toward this for the past three years, so it is nice to see that hard work paying off,” Hulit said.