Hannah Gearhart might be her toughest critic.
The Licking Valley sophomore had just won the discus Friday during the Licking Valley Invitational. She, however, was not happy with her performance.
Truth be told, Gearhart’s best throw of 115-feet-2 was the second-best of her career. She was unable to record a personal best for the third consecutive meet, but she could not be too upset.
“I have been really pushing myself because I am gearing up for districts and regionals,” Gearhart said. “(Assistant coach Mark Wilson) has me doing a lot more drills, and he is telling me just different things that I haven’t heard before. … I am getting more speed in the ring.”
Gearhart’s season best in 2013 was 91-6.5, but her 87-4 at the Division II district left her a foot shy of qualifying for the regional. This season, she first eclipsed 100 feet in the early-season Dick Houston Relays, and she has kept right on going.
“It really does help,” Gearhart said. “It boosts you, saying you actually do a have chance at going somewhere this year.”
Gearhart’s teammate Ashley Dillon won the shot put at this meet, finishing at 28-8. Gearhart was third. Dillon edged out Gearhart for that regional berth in 2013.
No hard feelings, but Gearhart has no interest in leaving anything to chance this time. Her personal-best throw of more than 118 feet recorded Tuesday in a dual at Utica ranks No. 1 in the Licking County League and Central District.
“I don’t really pay attention to that stuff. I just go and throw,” Gearhart said. “I do know (where I am ranked). Mark told me that.”
The Panthers’ Natalie Hurst checked out of the pole vault to participate in the 3,200 relay. When she returned, she knew she already had wrapped up the event title but wanted more.
Hurst cleared 8-6 and 9-0 after returning to tie her personal best. She came close to clearing 9-6, but that will wait another week.
“It was an improvement because the other week I got like 7-6 after running the (3,200 relay),” said Hurst, who is shooting for the school record of 10-0. “Maybe if I keep running the (3,200 relay), I will clear 11-0.
Licking Heights dominated the sprint events, and it carried the Hornets to the team title with 150.5 points. Newark Catholic slipped past Liberty Union to take second with 119.
Individual winners for the Hornets were Skyler Ortiz in the 100 hurdles (16.0) and high jump (4-8), Mykala Suggs in the 100 (13.2), Camerone Bryant in the 400 (1:00.2) and Chandlier McBride in the 200 (27.1). Heights also won the 400 (51.3), 800 (1:49.8) and 1,600 (4:14.8) relays.
Green Wave winners were Taylor Daignault in the long jump (15-1.375) and Daignault, Megan Stanton, Mickayla Messer and McKi Reid in the 3,200 relay (10:11.5).
In the boys meet, Valley’s Griffin Butler did not leave with a title but the sophomore certainly took a step forward. Butler was runner-up to Liberty Union’s Wyatt Gardner in the 1,600 (4:42.7) and 3,200 (10:13.7).
“That was the first time I have run them both in the same meet,” Butler said. “(Panthers coach Matt Sorg) just wanted to get me prepared for LCL because he thinks I am going to do both. I had to get prepared somehow.”
Butler was just two seconds off his personal best in the 1,600, and he came back with a season best in the 3,200. Butler’s ultimate goals for this season are 4:30 and 10:00.
If he can reach those, he could give Gardner a run for his money in the district and regional.
“He is an awesome runner. I give him that,” Butler said. “My goal is to just stick with him for the rest of the year and into cross country, too. He is my age. I see him a lot definitely.”
Liberty Union ran away with the boys title with 180.5 points, and Heights was second with 139. Winners for the Hornets were A.J. Velasquez in the shot put (43-5.5) and discus (131-6), Curtis Richardson in the long jump (20-0.75) and high jump (6-0), Bryan Justice in the pole vault (13-0) and the 800 relay (1:34.1).
NC placed third with 99.5 points. Chris Meek, Reilly Mentel, Kevin Lally and Levi Lupton won the 3,200 relay (8:39.1), and Meek, Lally, Blake Baker and Jared Jeffries won the 1,600 relay (3:32.4).