It’s not often when Dustin Horter calls upon the next level of zoom and there’s no response.
That rare occurrence happened to the Lakota East High School standout distance runner during the Division I state track and field meet on Saturday at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Having already successfully defended his 1,600 meters title from a year ago (4:06.96), Horter set his sights on the most grueling double, finishing less than an hour later with the 3,200.
“The plan was to sit on the (leaders) and be responsive to moves, but my legs were tired,” he said after rallying to finish third (9:05.88) in his final race for East. “I hoped for this double, but the responses didn’t come when I needed them to come.”
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Horter was joined by the Lakota East girls 4x100 relay as the only area track and field event winners on the second and final day of the three meets.
The boys team winners in the 111th event were Pickerington Central (D-I), Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (D-II) and East Canton (D-III). It was the 44th annual running for the girls, with Gahanna Lincoln (D-I), Beachwood (D-II) and Minster (D-III) all winning team titles.
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Horter flew to the front of the 1,600 and maintained a comfortable lead throughout. But a humid and hot day undermined his bid for the 3,200 double. He nearly dipped below 1:50 in the 800 in midseason, but scrapped that because of the little recovery time between the 1,600.
“I’m pretty emotional,” he said as he blinked back tears. “A lot of people look at me as a favorite in every race. All I can do is my best and if it’s in my tank or it’s not, it is what it is. I’ve been on a lot of winning sides. I’m not disappointed at all. I had a great year and a great high school career.”
He was a prized recruited by the University of Indiana and will run both cross country and track for the Hoosiers.
• East sophomore Serena Clark was second (11.80) to record-setter Abby Steiner of Dublin Coffman in the 100. Clark anchored the Thunderhawks to first in the 4x100 relay (47.21), but it was costly. She re-aggravated a strained quad that initially went lame at the district. That made her a scratch in the 200.
“This means a lot for my team,” she said. “My (relay), we were aiming for a ring.”
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Joining her on the relay were Abby and Danni Stoughton and Kaylyn Heath.
Steiner set all-time meet and stadium records - eclipsing her own marks - in the 100 (11.38) and 200 (22.73). With Kentucky signee Steiner graduated, Clark should be among the state favorites in both sprints the next two seasons.
• Fairfield’s girls placed in four events. Senior Tyra Kennedy was fourth in the 100 hurdles (14.17) and anchored the 4x100 relay to eighth (48.72). Joining her were Jasmine Kennedy, Monica Johnson and Jada Bostick.
Fairfield senior Nina Ward was seventh in the long jump (17 feet, 11 inches). The Fairfield foursome of Imani Neal, Onagite Abasina, Johnson and Janiyah Malone also were eighth in the 4x200 relay (1:43.05).
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• Middletown junior Conant Smith was eighth in the 3,200 (9:15.65). As a sophomore, he was fifth in the event in essentially the same time.