COLUMBUS — Northmont junior Leila Hill, the lone Thunderbolts’ athlete to qualify for the state track and field championships, represented her school well by placing 6th in the 300 hurdles in 44.69 seconds. In the state prelims Hill qualified at 44.62 seconds.
When interviewed earlier in the day, Northmont Coach Joe Barnes was optimistic about Hill’s chances of placing.
“I think she is actually going to do pretty well today,” Barnes said. “She is seeded eighth right now, but I can see her placing in the top five just based on what I saw last week at regional. I think a 43 second finish is definitely plausible. I’d like to see her finish in the low 43s.”
Hill was disappointed that she didn’t qualify for state in the long jump or in the 100 hurdles, but Barnes said the 300 appeared to be her strong suit based on how her times kept improving in that event.
“When she didn’t qualify in the long jump I know she was frustrated and when she didn’t qualify in the 100 hurdles, she was even more miserable,” Barnes noted. “At that point last week I said, ‘You’ve got two choices. You can sit here and sulk all you want and let the 300 hurdles not happen, or you can refocus, get out there and run.’ And that’s exactly what she did.”
Barnes praised Hill for going out and competing hard in the 300 hurdles at regional to get herself into a position of placing at state, and that’s exactly what she did.
“What I am astonished about was that I was looking at what she was running before the GWOC meet when her times in the 300 were in the 47 second range,” Barnes said. “Now she is down in the 43 second range just in that short period of time. I think she is all focused in and ready to go.”
Coming into the state meet Barnes told Hill that she just needed to get out and get by the first couple of hurdles and pound it. That’s exactly what she did in the prelims even though she stumbled through a few of the hurdles.
“If she comes out clean today that is where I think that lower 43 time is going to happen,” Barnes added.
While Hill didn’t quite hit the 43 second range, she still finished among the top six in the entire state. Not many athletes can claim that they achieved that.