Rocket track and field stars finish off careers on a high note

Yaneek Smith

Given that her father has coached the Oak Harbor girls track and field team for over two decades, Riley McKitrick probably had an appreciation for what it takes to be great at the sport.
But even for a coach’s kid, McKitrick probably exceeded expectations.
The Rocket senior recently finished off her career on a high note, placing fourth in the 100 meters in 12.17 seconds in Division II, 13th in the 200 in 26.03 and was part of the 4x100 relay team that included Molly Downs, Effie Schulte and Jaclyn Croy and finished eighth in 49.86 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
Her father, John, thought she’d be better suited for the 400 and 800, but Riley McKitrick evolved into a sprinter. She didn’t have a freshman season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but during her sophomore year, she showed promise as a sprinter, excelling at wicket drills. In fact, she was part of the 4x200 relay team that finished sixth in Division II as a sophomore, and she finished 15th in the 100 as a junior.
“She excelled at it, and I knew right away,” said John McKitrick. “I was excited that she was a sprinter, and we tried hurdles with her. You try to figure out what fits best, and she was willing to do it all.
“The progression was really solid – you see kids get a little bit better, (but) she’s been getting significantly better. If she were to continue in college, she’d probably get better.”
Riley McKitrick broke the record in the 100.
“We knew this year she had a chance to be even better. That school record of 12.50, we’ve had great athletes over the years go after it,” said John McKitrick. “Elayna (Krupp) tied it, and Riley broke it several times. Once she broke the record, she broke it five or six times.”
McKitrick had high praise for the relay team.
“We graduated Amelia Mizelle and Abby Garner, and I had parents, athletes and people concerned. ‘Are we going to get a relay (to state) this year?’ We knew we had Effie, she made some nice strides. Jaclyn served as an alternate this year; she had to get better, and she did. Molly Downs did a real nice job as a freshman, and then she tore her knee in soccer. She participated in a couple of indoor meets in the winter. She worked with the 400 and 800 group and did a nice job there,” he said. “We put her in the 200, about midway through the season, and she was right on Effie’s tail, and her speed was coming back, I said, we’re going to get you back into the sprint relays (in the future).”
Riley McKitrick got to go out on top in her final event.
“It was great,” she said. “My time had dropped a huge amount from regionals, and I had a bunch of family and friends there who got to watch it happen.”

For the boys team, Hayden Buhro, one of the area’s most decorated athletes, set school records in the process as he finished fourth in the 200 (21.82) in Division II and seventh in the 100 (10.73). He was also part of the 4x200 relay team with Garry Brooks, Judson Overmyer and Owen Miller that advanced to the finals and finished ninth in 1:30.33. Miller was fourth in the 400 in 49.53, Will Rahm finished eighth in the pole vault with a leap of 14 feet, Wyatt Augsburger came in ninth in the 300 hurdles in 39.95 and Evan Hall was 12th in the stop put with a throw of 50-09.50. The 4x400 relay, which included Augsburger, Miller, Overmyer and Blake Nickel, took eighth in 3:25.74. (Bodee Miller was an alternate for the relay team.)
“Hayden Buhro had quite a day; he bested his school record in the 100, which was a 10.85. (Assistant coach) Cole Weirich had that record from 2015 at then Hayden came out and ran a 10.73 to break it. He came back in the state prelims and ran a 21.67 in the 200, 27.76 in the finals, and to do that for his last time at state was awesome,” said Oak Harbor coach Andy Augsburger. “Owen getting to the podium after he was 10th last year in the 400, for him to qualify and finish fourth, it was a great job by him. He’s had a phenomenal season as a senior — he knew what he wanted and he went out and grabbed it. Owen can do so many other events. You could put Owen anywhere on the track –300 hurdles, long jump, high jump. He’s so versatile as an athlete and we watched him place in the 400 and the 4x400.
“Will Rahm did a phenomenal job at state — he jumped 14 feet and finished fourth in state. He had a goal in mind – get to state and earn a spot on the podium. To watch him do that was awesome. Evan Hall has had a phenomenal season. In the shot put, he was placing at every single meet and throwing 50-plus feet at every single meet, he broke a record that was held for about 40 years.”
Rahm talked about his mindset going into the tournament.
“My original goal was just to make it down to state. I only placed seventh at regionals last year,” he said. “Placing eighth was a step above what I wanted. I knew when I got down there, I had a chance to place. So getting eighth was an honor.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The whole experience was just unmatched. The regionals, you get to state and the big stands and the cool track — it’s dedicated to track, not a football stadium, as you clear a bar in pole vault you can hear the entire (crowd) cheer for you.”
Rahm will join Buhro at Tiffin University, and both will compete on its track and field team.


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