Girls track dominates at Districts

The Darby Boys and Girls Track and Field teams are well into their offseason, competing at the District Track Meet this past weekend. The Boys and Girls teams both competed fresh off of their OCC wins the weekend before. For the girls, it was their fourth consecutive OCC win.  Both teams carried on this momentum to the District meet this past week, hosted by Hilliard Darby.

  The Darby Girls Track team competed in the semifinals of the running events on Tuesday. The top eight finishers from each event progressed on to the finals on Saturday. The 4x800m relay team was the only race to compete in their finals on Tuesday, in which the Darby ladies placed fourth, with a time of 9:45.76, qualifying them for the regional track meet this coming weekend.

  Throughout the remainder of the meet, it was clear that the Darby girls were determined to continue their win streak coming off of OCCs. Both Sophomore Gabrielle Hammonds and Senior Stacia Rispress qualified for the finals in the 100m hurdles, placing fourth and eighth respectively. Hammonds also qualified for the finals in the 300m hurdles later on in the day. Freshman Sydney Thomas qualified for the 100m dash finals, coming off her individual OCC title win in the 100 this past weekend. Thomas also landed a spot in the finals for the 200m dash, with a time of 26.32, putting her at sixth after the semifinals. As the meet continued, Darby had qualifiers in every other event, including Senior Sydney Wyngarden and Junior Zayna Hampton taking second and third in the 400m Dash, respectively, and Freshman Mia Wyngarden and Senior Erin Cowen for the 800m Run. Finally, rounding out the meet, Junior Daniella Santos and Sophomore Krystal Singh both qualified for the 1600m run finals, as well as Darby’s 4x100m, 4x200m and 4x400m relay teams.

  On Thursday, the girls took to the track to compete in field events. Darby thrower, Junior Emma Kowalski threw a 36’ 6.5” in the Shot Put to place in fourth, qualifying for the Regional meet as well. Even though the girls did not have any finishers in the top eight for the Disc Throw or Pole Vault, Darby took first and second in the Long Jump, as well as first in the High Jump. Senior Maliya Ellis set a personal record with a jump of 18 feet and 1.5 inches to take the district title in the Long Jump. Right behind her was teammate, Junior Naomi Walters, with a jump of 18 feet and .25 inches to take second overall. Both girls will go on to jump at the Regional meet as well. Taking first in the High Jump was Senior Stacia Rispress. Rispress has had a remarkable season this year in the high jump, and coming off of a first place, 5’ 2” jump at OCC’s, Rispress took yet another title at the District meet with another 5’ 2” jump.

  Rispress, as well as the other competing girls on the team, had done a lot to prepare for the postseason.

  “The whole season we had been training to win our fourth OCC title in a row.” Rispress explained, “once we did that, we immediately moved our focus to districts.”

  Even though the ladies had been hard at work preparing for the District meet, the nerves were high with the pressure of competition rising. However, Rispress kept it cool and stayed focused for her jumps on Thursday.

  “I was very nervous to run,” Rispress stated, “but for High Jump I wasn’t as nervous because I feel more in control.”

  Clearly, Rispress did not have anything to be nervous about after her outstanding performance in High Jump on Thursday. As for the running events, the finals on Saturday would determine if all of the ladies hard work had paid off in the form of a District title.

  The District 1 running finals took place on Saturday morning, May 18. The ladies who had qualified for the finals were ready to take to the track and continue their success from the prelims earlier in the week. Starting off with the 100m hurdle finals, Hammons and Rispress took fourth and sixth, respectively, scoring eight points for Darby. Next was the 100m Dash, in which Thomas took fifth, with a time of 13.08. After that, the 4x200m relay team took third overall and qualified for the Regional meet in the process. Following the relay was the 1600m run finals. It was a brutal day for distance on Saturday, with temperatures in the mid 80’s. Nonetheless, Santos and Singh fought it out to take third and eighth. Next was the 4x100m relay, in which Darby took third. The open 400m came afterwards, and runners Hampton and Wyngarden earned second and third.

  At this point in the meet, the point totals were tight in the top three positions, Darby ranking first, with Hilliard Davidson and Westerville Central trailing by just a few points. The next event was the 300m hurdles and Hammons placed fourth for Darby, running her fastest time of the season, a 46.18, and qualifying for Regionals in her second hurdle event of the day. The next event was the 800m run, in which Mia Wyngarden and Cowen placed seventh and sixteenth, respectively. The 200m Dash followed and Thomas took to the track again, this time taking fourth and qualify for Regionals in the 200. Now, with only two events remaining, Darby was in the lead. The 3200m run was the next event and Davidson, trailing just a few points behind Darby, was ready to strike. Darby runners, Santos and Cannon finished sixth and twelfth, respectively. Although the Darby girls put up a fight, Davidson’s runners ran an excellent race, placing second and seventh, to make Davidson and Darby tied for first place at 98-98 going into the final event, the 4x400m relay.

  The runners and coaches were all aware of how crucial it was that the 4×4 team perform their best in this race. Darby Girls track had never won a District title before, and the only thing between them and the title was one race. The 4×400 team consisted of runners Jane Vulic, Sydney Wyngarden, Hampton, and Thomas. In warmups, the girls looked focused and sharp, but it was clear that the adrenaline and nerves were high before the deciding race. Darby was seeded second and Davidson first after the prelims on Tuesday. The entire girls team that was present and all of the Darby coached lined the final hundred meters of the track, cheering on the girls as the race began.

Thomas (9) running the final leg of the 4x400m relay

  Hampton ran the first leg of the relay, starting off strong. Despite her best efforts, Davidson gained a small lead in the first leg. The second leg was Wyngarden, and she had a bit of ground to make up. Wyngarden, known by her teammates for her drive and determination, closed the gap during her leg and managed to make the handoff to Vulic just behind the Davidson runner. Vulic ran an excellent leg, keeping with the Davidson runner and even passing her on the back straight away. By the time of the handoff for the final leg, Davidson had gained another small lead and things were looking questionable for Darby. Thomas took the baton and was off. It was clear that she and the entire team knew what was at stake as she closed the gap between the Davidson runner and herself and passed her on the back straight away. From there the race was Darby’s as Thomas maintained her lead a crossed the finish line ahead of Davidson, securing the District title for Darby.

  The girls team rushed to the finish line to hug and congratulate each other, and all of the coaches were overjoyed as well, some even shed a tear.

  Head Coach, Don Seymour was incredibly proud of his runners, exclaiming, “This is a very special team,” as he congratulated his winning team.

  The final score was Darby 106, Davidson 104 and with that, the Darby girls team won their first ever District title. For exact times and the boys team results, go to https://results.timingfirst.com/meets/2764. Be sure to wish any qualifiers listed good luck at the Regional meet at Pickerington North this coming week.

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