COLUMBUS — Colonel Crawford senior Katie Ruffener knew she’d have a shot at winning several individual titles at this year’s Division III state track and field meet.
The Iowa State commit placed fourth in the 100-meter dash and fifth in the 300-meter dash at state last year. She also finished second in the long jump, just four inches away from first.
But winning individual gold wasn’t her main goal. It never was, she explained Saturday afternoon, smiling as sweat dripped from her forehead.
Ruffener – and the rest of her teammates – wanted to bring a girls team state title back to North Robinson. It hadn’t been done since 1992, but they knew they’d have a shot.
So, they got to work. They won a Northern 10 title, then a district title, then a regional title – all leading up to a return trip to Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, where the state meet would be held for the first time since 2019.
And this weekend, on the state’s biggest stage, the Eagles wouldn’t disappoint.
Colonel Crawford earned the Division III girls team title with a total of 44 points – three more than runner-up Margaretta, after finishing Friday tied at 18. Ruffener led the way, collecting two individual titles and four total all-Ohio finishes en route to the Eagles’ first team state championship in 30 years.
“That means a lot,” Ruffener said afterwards. “That was our whole goal this year was, ‘Who cares about what I get? Let’s get state (as a) team.’ Bringing the freshmen up, so that they’re a part of something great, and give them the confidence that they (will need) for the next four years.”
1. Colonel Crawford (44 points)
2. Margaretta (41 points)
3. Minster (30 points)
t-4. Marion Local (24 points)
t-4. Lehman Catholic (24 points)
t-4. Calvert (24 points)
7. Lucas (22 points)
8. Coldwater (21 points)
Ruffener accounted for 30 of Colonel Crawford’s 44 points this weekend.
She won the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.71 seconds, more than a second ahead of Lucas junior Shelby Grover (14.82), who finished second. Ruffener’s time Saturday broke the Division III state record – which Ruffener herself had set the day prior, when she clocked a 13.87 during prelims.
“We had really originally been like, ‘Friday, go for the record; Saturday, win,'” Ruffener said of the 100-meter hurdles. “So doing it both days is a lot, and that is very good.”
After winning the 100 hurdles Saturday – and setting a new state record for the second day in a row – Ruffener doubled over at the finish line, her head in her hands.
She was asked afterwards if the time surprised her.
“No. My goal this year has been 13.6, which I still have New Balance Nationals to get that,” Ruffener explained. “But it kind of shocked me today because I thought I was a little more tired than I was yesterday, so it was definitely a surprise.”
Ruffener then proceeded to place third in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.32 seconds – collecting six key team points in the process. This after finishing fifth in the long jump the day prior, recording a leap of 17 feet, 8.25 inches that added four more points to the Eagles’ team total.
She closed out her senior state trip with the 300-meter hurdles late Saturday morning. And just like the 100 hurdles, Ruffener came out on top.
She registered a time of 43.06 seconds – half-a-second faster than second-place Sam Hoelscher of Marion Local (43.72).
“I knew 300 hurdles was going to be the closest race of them all, and I was gonna have to mentally prepare for that race – prepare to actually run against those girls – so that was good,” Ruffener said.
Ruffener competed – and excelled – in three events Saturday morning. By the end, she appeared spent. She was asked afterwards how she managed to pull it off.
“I definitely think I just had adrenaline from the 100 hurdles because I saw my time and I was like, ‘Oh, today’s great. Let’s just keep going,'” Ruffener said. “So I couldn’t tell how tired I was because I was just ready to go to the next race.”
And while Ruffener’s performance this weekend was key, it took a team effort for Colonel Crawford to bring a state title back to North Robinson.
Sophomore Niyah Shipman placed second in the high jump, collecting seven points with a mark of 5 feet, 4 inches. Senior Corin Feik finished fifth in the discus throw, registering a mark of 126 feet, 9 inches and adding four more points to the team total.
Senior Julia Feik rounded out the scoring for Colonel Crawford, placing sixth in the shot put with a mark of 39 feet, 5 inches and collecting three key team points.
The Eagles also saw quality performances from the girls 4×400-meter relay team, which finished 10th (4:07.37); freshman Gabby Roston, who finished 14th in the pole vault (10 feet, 0 inches); and senior Liv Krassow, who placed 15th in the high jump (5 feet, 0 inches).
Colonel Crawford performed this weekend in front of a crowd of 10,000-plus people. It was the Eagles’ first time doing so since 2019. Ruffener said this atmosphere boosted her individual performance – and likely boosted the team’s as well.
“Last year was definitely rough. I was not having a good two days there,” Ruffener said with a laugh. “I’m definitely having a lot better two days here (this year) than I was last year. I think being back at Jesse Owens has really helped with the atmosphere. The crowd definitely is a big part of it all.”
A total of 57 athletes from Richland, Ashland and Crawford counties competed at this weekend’s state track and field meet. Here’s how the rest fared:
Mansfield Senior senior Maurice Ware finished second in the high jump, clearing 6 feet, 8 inches. His teammate, fellow senior Amil Upchurch, placed seventh in the event, clearing 6 feet, 6 inches.
Junior Keontz Bradley placed eighth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.48 seconds. He qualified for Saturday’s championship race with an eighth-place finish (49.34) during Friday’s preliminary round.
Madison senior Isaac Brooks finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.51 seconds. He qualified for Saturday’s championship race with an eighth-place finish (14.39) during Friday’s preliminary round.
Brooks also finished sixth in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 38.63 seconds. He qualified for the championship race with a fifth-place finish (37.94) during prelims.
Ashland junior Lukah Will placed 15th in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:58.95. And Lexington sophomore Carter Newman finished 17th in the discus throw with a mark of 129 feet, 10 inches.
The Shelby boys 4×800-meter relay team – consisting of junior Luke Dininger, junior Huck Finnegan, senior Mason Hendrickson and sophomore Marshall Moore 10 – finished fifth with a time of 8:02.11.
Senior Garrett Baker placed seventh in the pole vault with a mark of 14 feet, 10 inches.
Finnegan finished ninth in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:31.51. His teammate, Hendrickson, placed 16th in the event with a time of 9:50.21.
The Shelby girls 4×800-meter relay team – consisting of senior Reyna Hoffman, sophomore Channon Cundiff, freshman Emma Montgomery and junior Kayla Gonzales – finished 10th with a time of 9:42.95.
Gonzales finished eighth in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:03.60. Hoffman placed 12th in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:20.24.
Ontario junior Miles Meisse finished sixth in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:56.29. His teammate, senior Ellie Maurer, placed 15th in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 11:48.69.
Clear Fork senior Rebekah Conrad finished 12th in the discus throw with a mark of 115 feet, 8 inches. Her teammate, fellow senior Ethan Staley, placed 13th in the pole vault with a mark of 13 feet, 6 inches.
Galion senior Zaynah Tate finished 13th in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:20.67.
Lucas junior Shelby Grover finished second in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.82 seconds. She qualified for Saturday’s championship race with a second-place finish (14.88) during Friday’s preliminary round.
She also placed second in the long jump with a mark of 17 feet, 11.75 inches.
Grover placed third in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 44.39 seconds. She qualified for Saturday’s title race with a first-place finish (44.51) during Friday’s preliminary round.
She finished 10th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.01 seconds.
Grover’s teammate, senior Grant Barrett, placed 16th in discus throw with a mark of 139 feet, 4 inches.
Plymouth junior Caiden Allen finished third in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.06 seconds. He qualified for Saturday’s championship race with a seventh-place finish (11.08) during Friday’s preliminary round.
St. Peters junior Peyton Bodnar placed eighth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.21 seconds. He qualified for Saturday’s title race with a ninth-place finish (50.87) during Friday’s preliminary round.
Bodnar also finished 10th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.82 seconds.
The Crestview boys 4×800-meter relay team – consisting of senior Tommy O’Neill, freshman Logan Friges, freshman Cooper Brockway and senior Gabe Smedley – placed seventh with a time of 8:09.29.
The boys 4×400-meter relay team – consisting of junior Caden Cunningham, O’Neill, Smedley and freshman Everett Smith – finished 11th with a time of 3:31.64.
Junior Shawn Bailey placed eighth in the pole vault with a mark of 13 feet, 6 inches. Sophomore Wade Bolin finished 11th in the discus throw with a mark of 153 feet, 6 inches.
Bolin also placed ninth in the shot put with a mark of 52 feet, 1 inch. His teammate, junior Noah Stuart, finished 13th in the event with a mark of 46 feet, 10 inches.
O’Neill finished 15th in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:33.29. Fellow senior Morgan Welch placed 11th in the girls 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:17.43.
Mapleton sophomore Bella Tabler finished 11th in the long jump with a mark of 16 feet, 6.25 inches. Her teammate, freshman Madison Bailey, placed 16th in the event with a mark of 15 feet, 11 inches.
Senior Jillian Carrick finished 14th in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.69 seconds.
Loudonville junior Sydney Polen placed ninth in the long jump with a mark of 16 feet, 11.50 inches.
The girls 4×200-meter relay team – consisting of junior Kenzie Cutlip, sophomore Corri Vermilya, junior Anna Templeman and Polen – finished 13th with a time of 1:48.07.
Vermilya also placed 15th in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 48.56 seconds.
Bucyrus junior Randy Banks finished 14th in the high jump with a mark of 6 feet, 0 inches.
The Colonel Crawford boys 4×100-meter relay team – consisting of senior Jacob Awbrey, senior Carter Valentine, senior Caulen Spangler and junior Ethan Holt – placed seventh with a time of 44.15 seconds. The Eagles qualified for Saturday’s championship race with a ninth-place finish (44.15 seconds) during Friday’s preliminary round.
Valentine finished fourth in the long jump with a mark of 21 feet, 7.75 inches.
Sophomore Trevor Vogt placed 13th in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.05 seconds. He also finished 17th in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 43.39 seconds.
Lexington freshman Megan Haring finished seventh in the 400-meter wheelchair race with a time of 2:23.89.
She also placed ninth in the 100-meter wheelchair race with a time of 33.33 seconds. Haring qualified for Saturday’s championship race with a ninth-place finish (32.64) during Friday’s preliminary round.