For most competitors at the state track and field meet, there are plenty of reasons to be nervous. The huge crowd and the magnitude of the moment can create a churning in the stomach that is tough to quell.
Fortunately for Garaway High School sisters Rachel and Ariel Wentworth, they have each other to fall back on in times of stress.
In a rarity at state, the two sisters ran together in the same 3200 finals of Division III at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, and for one final time, they had a blast. What made it even sweeter was that each made the podium, Rachel placing fourth, Ariel grabbing seventh, both claiming an All-Ohio accolade.
“Maybe I should have felt like it was a bigger deal with this being my senior year, but I wasn’t stressed out at all,” said Rachel Wentworth, who now has three All-Ohio medals to tote around for her effort in the 3200. Her sophomore season saw her place fourth in 11:28.64, last year saw her turn in a time of 11:11.34, good for third place, and then this year’s career-capping fourth place finish in 11:14.49.
With all of that experience at state, it is no wonder why the diminutive senior wasn’t on pins and needles.
She said having the entire 4×800 team there to practice with and hang around with also helped clam any nerves she might have had.
“This is the first time we’ve had our 4×800 team here with me, so we came down Thursday night and practiced, raced on Friday and by race time today, I felt like being on this track was just a grateful opportunity I was just here to have fun.”
Wentworth actually ran with the top pack much of the race, something that surprised even herself.
Coming off an injury-marred season, the senior’s prior results show she is capable of coming up big when the lights shine. She did not disappoint in this, her swan song effort.
“Once you’re up there (with the leaders) you can’t back off, or you’ll look stupid,” said Wentworth.
For Ariel Wentworth, the opportunity to extend her season to compete at state was a blessing, and to run with her sister made it all the more special.
“This is the fastest race I have ever run in,” said Ariel Wentworth, who made monstrous gains in this, her junior campaign. “I new going in it wasn’t going to be a race where I goto the front and stay there like I’ve done a lot this year. I knew I needed to start in the middle of the pack, and then try to move up, but every time I tried to move up, this whole swarm of girls would go with me.”
Eventually the younger Wentworth was able to get herself in position to reach the podium, something that she wasn’t sure would happen this meet.
“It was a little overwhelming having so many fast girls around me,” said Ariel Wentworth. “It got really intense.”
She added that her faith in God has helped her become a better runner, and that she never expected to be where she was this season.
Wentworth time! Garaway’s Rachel (4th) and Ariel (7th) both make podium in girls’ 3200-meter run. pic.twitter.com/y8Vir1PgA9
— HolmesCountyTicket (@hcticket) June 4, 2016
One saving grace for the sisters was that they were there together, and mid way through the race they were actually running in tandem. That is a comfort to both, and a source of strength.
“We know each other’s race strategies so well, and I know where she should be the whole time, “said Rachel Wentworth of her sister. “Then right on cue, she’s here. We yell little things about our form to each other during the raced, which is really helpful.”
After the podium ceremony, the two sisters embraced on the top of the podium for one final hug together, something they also did at regionals. It was two sisters who have so much love and respect for one another, enjoying their final moment of high school track together, wanting it to last as long as possible.
“It’s special, one last hurrah,” said Rachel Wentworth. “I’m sure that picture will be hanging in our living room for years to come.”
It will serve as a reminder of two siblings who have gone through the rigors of distance running together, helping each other become the best they can be.”