Keep in mind, you may be watching a future Olympian at the OHSAA state track meet
It's an exhausting and exhilarating event to cover for a high school reporter.
When I worked at The Morning Journal in Lorain for the first 13 years of my career, I covered the state meet on my own. I remember one time when the meet was moved to Dayton for a few years, I had to write four stories on this dinky little computer the newspaper gave me. The screen was so small you could only read four lines at a time.
For whatever reason, I was unable to send my stories through the telephone line so I had to dictate all four. I was the last person to leave Welcome Stadium that night.
Some people ask me how I can sit through an entire track meet. If you aren't a track person, you probably wouldn't understand. Honestly, I enjoy it so much that five hours sometimes feels like 30 minutes because there is so much going on. There are so many different story angles you can go with as a reporter. There are solid performances going on all over the track and it's my job to keep track of my area athletes and highlight as many of their accomplishments as I can.
The greatest high school track athlete I ever covered was Elyria's Tianna Madison. I remember meeting her when she was a freshman in high school and thinking, "this girl has more potential than she realizes."
During her brilliant high school career, she won nine state championships including seven in individual events. She became only the third athlete in Ohio to win four events at a state championship meet two years in a row (2002 and 2003). The others on that list? Cleveland East Tech/U.S. Olympic legend Jesse Owens (1932-33) and Zanesville Rosecrans star Susan Nash (1983-84).
In 2003, she led Elyria to a Division I state championship. She won the long jump that year with a leap of 20 feet, 5 3/4 inches. It's a state record that still stands today.
Madison went on to run at the University of Tennessee where she had a successful collegiate career. Last year, she won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics. She lead off the women's 4x100 which set a world record in 40.82. I cried when I watched the race because I was so happy for Tianna, her family and her coaches. Especially her high school coach Jackie Below.
It all started somewhere for Tianna and that was the OHSAA state track meet. It's pretty amazing when you think about it.
So if you go down to the state meet this year, keep in mind, you may be watching some future Olympians.
It's an event where stories are told and some go on to win gold.
-Theresa Neuhoff Audia