Rebekah Rayburn is better than she thought she could be and better than she knew she was.
In short, Rayburn has a gift but didn’t know it.
Rayburn won the 100 and teamed with Allie Jett, Allie Dombrowsky and Sidney Allen to take the 4X100 relay Thursday as Oak Harbor’s girls topped Fremont Ross.
“I started the freshman season thinking I was a hurdler,” said Rayburn, a sophomore. “(Coach John McKitrick) put me in the 100 and it took off from there.
“I feel I’ve improved a lot since last year. My form’s improved and I’m lifting. I’m hoping to get far in the 100. (Thursday) went pretty well.”
Rayburn qualified to regionals in the 100 last season.
“I’ve constantly surprised myself,” she said. “Last year, I didn’t expect regionals. I’ve improved my times since last year and I continue to surprise myself.”
Jared Ballenger established season bests in capturing the shot put (53 feet) and discus (168) as the Little Giants’ boys won their share of the meet.
“As a team, our focus on dual meets is to get our young kids experience and an opportunity to compete,” Ross coach Travis Bates said.
Junior Brantleigh Bunting shifted from the 1,600 to the 3,200 this season. Bunting also runs cross country and is enjoying his role.
“I thought it would be windier and hotter than it was,” he said. “When the wind died down I thought it would be good conditions and I got a PR. I’ve loved distance running since I was little. I went on runs with my dad. I like the endurance. It’s relaxing.”
Maria Boers won the 100 hurdles, Trinity Gephart the 1,600 and Dombrowsky the 300 hurdles for Oak Harbor. Annie Quisno, Cydney St. Clair, Karis DeWalt and Coral Petersen won the 4X800 relay while DeWalt, Gephart, Dombrowsky and Athena Eli took the 4X400 relay.
Allie Dresser won the 800, Allen the 200 and Jordan Giesler the shot put. Jordan Dunn won the discus, Andrea Cecil the long jump, and Jett, DeWalt, Allen and Eli won the 4X200 relay.
The Little Giants’ Faye Sloma was not tested in winning the 3,200 but still found a way to challenge herself. She focused on trying to catch the final boy in the race that started before her’s and was only about a second from doing so.
“I haven’t PRed yet this season,” she said. “I came in wanting to run well. I needed something to push me. I watched the back of his jersey and the last lap I tried to catch him.”
Sloma, a sophomore, ran in the 12s at districts last season.
“I’d like to make regionals,” she said. “I’ve run at regionals in cross country so I want to make it (in track).
“I really like track. It was fun running the 1,600 in the rain. Running in the rain and wet and cold you just want to finish faster.”
Thomas Loope won the 110 hurdles and Cody Pfeiffer the 300 hurdles for Oak Harbor’s boys. Andy Burnette, Zach Seaman, Tim Poiry and Tyler Sievert took the 4X800 relay, Burnette, Seaman, Andrew Heberling and Sievert the 4X400 relay, and Josh Chambers, Coltan Bonham, Cliff Biggert and Heberling the 4X100.
“We ran our hardest,” Sievert said. “We prayed for strength before the race and worked hard in bad conditions.”
Sievert, a sophomore, has eyes on regionals this season.
“It pushes me hard,” Sievert said of his drive to improve on last season. “The No. 1 goal is to get the 4X8 relay to regionals. We didn’t run our best (last season) and could have done better. It was a good experience. It will help me.”
McKitrick now wants to make sure Rayburn doesn’t have any other gifts. She has added the long jump to her plate this season and was second Thursday.
“When a kid comes in, you want to figure out where everbody will fit best,” McKitrick said. “We didn’t want to miss an opportunity as a hurdler but she took off with sprints so fast it was natural. She’s taken ownership of that now.
“She’s a hard worker. We needed to find another job for her. The fastest kid on the team can’t do only two things. She’s doing a nice job (in the long jump). Next year we might ask her to do another (event).”