“I didn’t win, and I didn’t get my height (6-7, his season high), which was two times worse,” said Hill. “Second’s just not good enough.”
Hill injured his left hamstring in last week’s regional competition at Manchester and the injury nagged at the Patriot jumper throughout the state meet.
“My leg has been hurting me since Clay County and it was even worse today. It was tighter, and it was hot. The heat took a lot out of me today,” he said. “But I still should have got that 6-6.”
Only one high jumper would clear 6-6 at the state finals. Donavan Halsel, a sophomore from Warren Central who cleared 6-5 in the Region 2 finals, claimed the state title when he cleared 6-6 on his first attempt. Halsel went on to clear 6-8, but fell short of breaking the 3A record of 6-11.25.
“He had a good day. He cleared 6-6 on his first try,” said Hill.
Halsel wasn’t the only high jumper having a good day. Eighteen of the field of 23 jumpers cleared 6-0 and Hill was in good company when the height hit 6-4.
“It was a great competition,” said Hill. “There were still five people left at 6-4. Halsel cleared 6-6 and then none of the rest of us cleared. He (Johnson) and I had less scratches to get second.”
The thrill of the competition started to bring the smile back to Hill’s face as he contemplated his senior season of high jumping.
“I’ve still got next year and I’m going to beat that kid,” he said of Halsel. “I’m going to work on my form since I know how to now and I’m going to get better.”
Hill’s runner-up finish was Lincoln’s first medal since 2001 when Ben Gaines placed second in pole vault.
“Zack did awesome and he wasn’t even happy about it. I would be so happy with a second-place at state,” said Lady Pat distance runner Emily Frith.
While Hill expected to make the awards podium, Frith never dreamed that she, too, would be under the spotlight in the state finals.
The LCHS junior’s time was not ranked among the best in the 3200-meter run, seeded 16th out of the 22 runners slated to compete and she wasn’t in metal contention.
Until she kicked in with a full-out finish in the final lap of the eight-lap race. Frith, who had qualified in three events, was running back in 16th place in her final state race of the day when she started to pick up her pace and pick off runners. She passed the 15th runner, worked her way pass the 14th, then 13th, eventually moving into eighth-place down the final stretch to earn herself a state medal.
Frith had no idea what she’d accomplished.
“In the two-mile (3200), I just went out there and ran because it’s just an honor to be at state,” she said. “I didn’t even know that I was in eighth-place until after the race when Miss Lacey (Lacey Ledford, Lincoln’s girls coach) came up to me and said, ‘You’ve got eighth-place. You medalled.’”
“I wasn’t even thinking about place. I was just like, ‘Okay, run. If you feel like you can go faster, go faster,’” she said.
Frith’s push at the end got her to the finish line in 11:56.53.
“It was the last race of the year and I wanted to do my best and I’m happy that I did,” Frith said. “It wasn’t my PR but I was really close to it.”
When Frith learned that she made the awards podium, she realized just how close she came to losing her spot.
Lindsey Mathis, a freshman from Muhlenberg County who was ranked 14th ahead of Frith in the pre-meet listing, narrowly missed claiming the eighth-place medal, coming in hot on Frith’s heels as the pair neared the finish. Mathis’ time was 11:56.91.
“She almost got me,” said Frith. “She was right at my back when I finished and I hadn’t realized it because I didn’t hear her. She was like right on me at the end.”