Mason’s 4x800 boys relay team dazzles at state

Mason girls track coach Tony Affatato had a simple message for his 4x800 relay as they prepared to take the Jesse Owens Memorial Track for the recent OHSAA state track and field meet in Columbus.

“I just told them to enjoy each other as they tried to do this,” Affatato said. “But their goal was to try and break the school record.”

The quartet of Lily Hallum, Faith Min, Maddie Ullom and Ellie Brush went one better than the school record. They finished in 8:56.62, shattering the school mark of 9:09.15 set in 2006 while breaking the city of Cincinnati, Jesse Owens track and state records in the process.

“I thought there would be a three- or four-team race,” Affatato said. “I didn’t know how much they had in the tank, but it is one of the greatest things I have ever witnessed.

“When you get everyone to have a great day on the same day it is an accomplishment at any level and I just couldn’t believe it.”

Hallum finished seventh in the 800, breaking Delaney McDowell’s school record with a 2:13.84. Ullom qualified ninth in the 400 but moved onto the podium with a seventh-place finish in :56.59.

Amaya King battled back from a disappointing showing in the discus to finish second in the shot with a throw of 46 feet, 7 inches.

King unloaded her best throw on the last throw of the event and led until the final thrower.

“I was so proud of her,” Affatato said. “She could have thrown in the towel after the discus, but she battled and gave it everything she had.

“We had a lot of moments that were just great high school moments and showed a lot of sportsmanship.”

One of those moments for Affatato came in the pole vault where Nicole Bagby appeared to have won the state title by clearing 13-4 but nudged the bar and dislodged it with her thigh on the way down.

Bagby finished third after clearing 13-0 as Mason finished fifth in the team race with 25 points.

“She was clearly over the bar, but she tried to win the meet right then and there,” Affatato said. “She rebroke her own school record and set the Cincinnati record. She showed outstanding effort and a lot of courage.”

The Mason boys got a pair of great runs in the finals from their 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams as each finished second.

The 4x200 of Hayden Cobb, Jaymon Penn, Bryan Hudnell and Max Mitchell qualified sixth but finished second in 1:27.72. The quartet of Matt Miller, Ahmed Ashraf, Cobb and Mitchell qualified sixth in the 4x400 before finishing second in 3:16.56.

Vince Jackson finished third in the high jump for Mason, clearing 6-6 as the Comets finished seventh with 22 points.

“We worked very hard in the week leading up to the state meet and did some changing in our personnel,” Mason boys coach Chip Dobson said. “We were very happy to be seventh overall, it is a great group of guys and I could not be happier for them.

“We were hoping for a top-10 finish but thought that was a long shot.”

The Kings girls had a record weekend, finishing 15th with 13 points after placing three on the podium.

“The postseason is about individuals,” Kings coach Lynn Brant said. “The team place just acknowledges how hard these women worked all season to develop a team.”

The 4x800 relay team of Leah Maschino, Karleigh Conner, Jennifer Cooper and Hannah Rasmussen broke their school record by 10 seconds in finishing third in 9:01.43.

“Whenever a team makes the podium, they end their season with an accomplishment,” Brant said. “Obviously, losing Hannah Rasmussen will hurt the team next year but freshman alternate Brooke Garter hopes to join Karleigh Conner, Jennifer Cooper, and Leah Maschino to be back to state in 2018.”

Rasmussen closed her career with a sixth-place finish in the 1,600 in 4:53.56 while classmate Sarah Bruns was fifth in the 300 hurdles in 43.93 after missing the finals in the 100 hurdles by .01.

“Sarah was confident in the 300-meter hurdles all season,” Brant said. “Three of the podium finishers in the 300 were from the ECC (Eastern Cincinnati Conference) so she has been running tough races for the past three weeks.”

Grant Coleman finished seventh in the pole vault for Kings, clearing 14-4.

The Lebanon boys also had a strong weekend with Jordan Campbell and Kelby Caplinger both placing in their events.

“The state meet was fantastic for Lebanon track,” coach Jason Simcoe said. “I thought all of the kids rose to the occasion and had their best performances on the biggest stage. We competed in four events, and three set school records. I thought the weekend went about as perfectly as it could have for us. I think the kids maximized their potential in each race.”

Campbell finished sixth in the 100 in :10.90 while Caplinger was eighth in the 800 in 1:54.46, marking Lebanon’s first state placers since 2010.

“I was very proud of Jordan’s performance,” Simcoe said. “He survived a bad start on Friday in prelims to earn his way to the finals as one of the nine best short sprinters in the state, and then he did what he does best and competed.

“Kelby ran like he always does — really smartly and with lots of heart. He set a goal last June of earning his way onto the podium this spring and he fought every step of the way to achieve that goal. He positioned himself well early in the race so that he would have a chance to move through the pack, and he finished with a great kick to run down a kid for that final podium spot.”

Jackson Siddall set the school record in the 1,600 with a 4:15.46.

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