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It has been a long wait for Emmalee Markins.
As a freshman, Markins finished 15th at the state meet in the 100.
Three years later, the recent graduate ended her career at Minerva standing on the podium at the famed Jesse Owens Stadium.
Markins is the lead runner of the Lady Lions' 4x200. She hands off to sophomore Amanda Kukunis, who in turn gives the baton to junior Ava Burman. Sophomore Alyssa Markins is the anchor.
This combination put together its best performance of the year, and the result was a fifth-place finish at the 2017 State Track and Field Championships.
"While all season we kept telling them (4x200) they were really good, I don't think we even realized how good," noted Coach Olivia Scott. "We will take a hit losing Emmalee to graduation. Amanda, Ava, and Alyssa will keep getting better. Luckily, we have some depth on our team as well as some pretty fast freshmen coming in. I know these ladies will be back at Jesse Owens next year without a doubt."
The foursome qualified eighth in the prelims on Friday afternoon with a school-record time of 1:45.3.
A day later, the girls did everything right as they shattered their record with a time of 1:44.72 to earn All-Ohio honors.
"My start was good," stated E. Markins. "I felt like I got out of the blocks quickly and had a nice handoff to Amanda. To place at the state meet in my very last race with these girls, including my sister, is amazing."
"My handoff with Emmalee was the best we've had this year," noted Kukunis. "I ran relaxed and I ran hard, and my handoff with Ava was nearly perfect. It was great to make it to state, but we had a goal of getting on the podium. Once we made the finals, we told ourselves we needed to beat just one team. And here we are in fifth place."
"Once I got the baton from Amanda, I focused on knocking down as many runners as I could," commented Burman. "I got a little scared when Alyssa took off a little fast, but I was able to get her the baton. It was Em's last race, and we wanted to get her on the podium."
"There is a lot of pressure being last on a relay team," noted A. Markins. "You either have to catch people in front of you, or maintain a lead while people are chasing you. We just came in and showed them what Minerva is made of. I knew we could do it and we showed we could."
Two other relay teams competed at the state meet.
The 4x400 consisting of freshman Skylar Trussel, Burman, sophomore Sarah Carver and Kukunis finished 14th in 4:16.07; and the 4x100 consisting of E. Markins, Kukunis, junior Ashley Gulling and A. Markins were 15th in 51.04.
"While we of course are bummed that we didn't qualify to the finals in the 4x100 and 4x400, just making it to this level is such an accomplishment," noted Coach Scott. "Three of the girls that ran the 4x100 stepped back onto the track after running the 4x200. I could tell this small amount of recovery time affected them.
"I am super proud of all the girls and the way they performed. All that Coach Drew Predergast and I ever ask is for them to give it their all and they did that."