Entering the 2008 track season, Oak Harbor coach John McKitrick was looking to lead the girls program to its first Sandusky Bay Conference title.
McKitrick probably couldn't have dreamed where his program would be six years later.
In '08, the Rockets won their first SBC crown, finished second the next season and then won four consecutive titles, the most recent championship coming last month. On top of that, Oak Harbor is becoming a force to be reckoned with during the postseason, too. Two relay teams were competing at the Division II state meet over the weekend.
|Oak Harbor state qualifier Athena Eli,
a member of the Rockets' 4X200 relay
team. (Press photo by Harold Hamilton/
Thanks to their performance in Lexington regional competition, the 4x400 team of Andrea Cecil, Allie Jett, Allie Dombrowsky and Athena Eli and the 4x200 team of Jett, Eli, Karis DeWalt and Sidney Allen qualified for a spot in Columbus. The 4x400 squad was third in 4:04.37 and the 4x200 squad was fourth in 1:45.52.
It was especially fulfilling for Oak Harbor because the Rocket girls fell short of sending anyone down to Columbus last season.
“It's something that we really wanted to happen — get some relays to state,” said McKitrick, now in his 15th season at the helm. “Some of the kids on the relays are underclassmen but there are some seniors, too, and we want that so the program can continue to build. It is one thing to have your expectation as a league champion, (but) it's important to have bigger goals like making it to state. We hope that this experience can help our team into thinking bigger.”
Two other Rocket relay teams just missed making the trip to Columbus — the 4x100 squad of Jett, Dombrowsky, Allen and Cecil (fifth in 50.65) and the 4x800 squad of Eli, Annie Quisno, Allie Dresser and Trinity Gephart (sixth in 9:59.64).
Of the five seniors, four, Dombrowsky, Dresser, Allen and Jordan Giesler, have accomplished the impressive feat of being the only class to win a conference title in track in each of their four years at Oak Harbor. Dresser finished third at the SBC meet and was seventh at the district meet in the 800. Giesler was the SBC champion in the discus. The other senior, Maria Boers, a standout in basketball, ran the 100, 300 hurdles and 4x800 relay.
“(The seniors) realized what they did and they've shown the rest of the team what the recipe for success is from a leadership standpoint,” said McKitrick, who teaches math at the junior high. “How do we prepare, how do we practice, how do we work together as a team? They left their mark and the rest of the kids will refer back to this year. Every year, during the first week, we talk to our seniors about taking a leadership role. This year's class, they've just done it the best. Meet to meet, invitational to invitational, they were able to generate enthusiasm for the events.”
Dombrowsky said, “We just tried to be good role models for the underclassmen and show good team unity. It was a real honor to be part of a team that accomplished such big goals four years in a row. It's an awesome feeling for us seniors to know that we started something this great and I know Coach McKitrick and the upcoming seniors will lead the team to more SBC titles.”
Dombrowsky and Allen are the two seniors on the state qualifying relay teams, and they take pride in getting to compete at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“Making it to state has been my goal for the longest time,” Dombrowsky said. “I have been working hard at practice and at meets to prepare myself, but I could not have done it without my amazing team. I'm so proud of all of them. I'm ecstatic that I have the opportunity to finish my senior year off with a bang.”
Allen also finished 11th in the 200-meter dash (26.6). McKitrick says she has come a long way since her freshman year.
“Sidney Allen, she was one of their kids we threw out there as a freshman, and she got better and better,” said McKitrick, “To be a state qualifier as a senior, that's quite an accomplishment. We're real proud of what Sidney has done. She was runner-up in the league meet and district meet in the 200. I think she dropped her time from freshman to senior year about four seconds.”
Allen said, “The feeling (of qualifying for state) is unreal. I've worked so hard for four years to get where I am and I am so glad that the work paid off. My strong determination to improve kept me going throughout the years and I definitely couldn't have gotten anywhere without my coaches and my teammates. They motivate and inspire me every day to keep working hard and fight to the finish line. I couldn't have asked for a better team or better coaches.”
McKitrick credits boys head track coach Andy Augsburger and their assistants, John Lucas, Gina Warnke, Bill Blue, Eddie Jordan, Eric Buckman, Charlie Morse, David Thiel and Tiffany Wojotowitz, for their help building a stronger program.