She wasn’t even the fastest 400-meter runner in her family during the first two meets of the year.
But Saturday at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, Gibsonburg’s Colleen Reynolds ran the 400 faster than any other Division III runner in the state. Reynolds ran a personal best 56.57 seconds to become the first Golden Bear to win a state championship in track and field. She joins wrestler Paul Sanchez as the only other Gibsonburg athlete to win an individual state crown.
Top-seeded Sierra Wright of Loudonville was second at 57.05.
“I never even ran this event until this year,” said Reynolds, a sophomore who took ninth a year ago in the 200 dash. “I lost to Kendall (her twin sister) twice in the first two meets of the season. But yesterday was the first time I’d lost since losing to Kendall.
“I was going for the 200 all year, but yesterday I got third and I felt like I could get the 400 and thought that race was my best chance.”
Reynolds completed her trip to Columbus with three top five finishes. Before winning the 400, she took fifth in the 100 dash (12.57) and just 20 minutes or so after winning the 400, she was also fifth in the 200 (25.74). Her 18 points placed Gibsonburg sixth in the final Division III girls team standings.
“I kind of felt down about myself last night and I was nervous,” Reynolds said. “But I felt a little better this morning. I’m not a prelims person, I just like knowing I have these races left and then I’m done.”
Reynolds was seeded third coming into the finals of the 400 after running a time of 58.04 in the prelims. She was fourth in the 200 prelims and sixth in the 100 prelims.
Her start in the 400 went off just as planned. Reynolds was third but quickly moved up to second entering the back straightaway.
“I knew I needed to hug the curves and stay out front and not let anybody pass me,” Reynolds said. “I wanted to lead, I didn’t want to chase. That was the biggest thing.”
Reynolds kept her lead going into the final turn and pulled away as the racers came down the final stretch.
“Yesterday, (Wright) pulled out in front at 200 meters mark and I said to myself, ‘I can’t let this happen again today,'” she said. “I don’t think she was as close to me as I thought.”
Kendall Reynolds was 13th in the 400 in 2012. She was also 13th this year and finished 10th in the 100, going from competitor to cheerleader for Colleen.
“(Kendall) said she started crying after the 400,” Colleen said. “She was really supportive and happy for me. At the beginning of the year she was kind of mad about me beating her, but she’s been very supportive as the year went on.”
The best part for Gibsonburg: They’re back for two more years.
“I’ve already decided we’re eating at the Cheesecake Factory on the way home,” Colleen said.