When the McDonald girls 4x400 relay team finished 1.57 seconds off of making it to the state meet last season, the three returning runners - now junior Joya Humphries and seniors Sarah Jones and Abby D'Amore - wanted to make sure that in 2013, they would make it to Columbus for the state track and field meet.
Along with freshman Iva Domitrovich, the Blue Devils did take the next step, qualifying out of the Division III Navarre regional third to punch a ticket to the state track meet today in Columbus.
"Our coaches have definitely helped us a lot this year," Humphries said. "They (designed) a lot of hard workouts and push each other to not get the feeling of finishing in fifth place again. I feel like it really helped us because we were really disappointed, so we all worked a lot harder this year."
That hard work paid off not just for the 4x400 team but also the two other sprinting relays, as the 4x100 and 4x200 teams will race at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium today.
Both Humphries and Domitrovich particpate in the 4x100 and 4x200, and freshman Sara Joseph and Humphries' twin sister, Frankie, join them on those relay teams. Together, getting all three sprinting relays down to state is one of the best performances by the McDonald girls program in recent memory.
"We're really happy to do it as a team because normally we don't have one relay make it," Joya said. "We've made it in three. So, we're really excited that we can be there together as a team."
According to coach Mary Domitrovich, the relay teams' successes this season have come down to an excellent work ethic.
"From the very beginning when we sat down at our team meeting prior to the season, they had goals, and they knew what they had to do as far as how much work and effort," Mary said. "Through the whole season, all of those girls have achieved. They've shown what hard work can do. It's a wonderful example for the younger kids."
While the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams don't have a single senior on them, both teams come into the state meet having finished second in the regional races. The 4x100 recorded a 50.25 and the 4x200 registered a 1:46.11. The 4x100 team enters with the third fastest time, and the 4x200 comes in with the seventh fastest.
At the regional meet, both relays relied on the junior twins, Frankie and Joya Humphries, to run the lead and anchor legs. Not that this means much - Joya said the teams have no weak links.
"Usually, (Frankie) gets us a good lead, along with the other two girls," Joya said. "Both (the 4x100 and 4x200) relays are really strong. We really don't have a weak leg at all."
To go along with the relay meets, the Blue Devils have two junior discus throwers also competing at the state meet.
The 2012 Division III state runner-up in the discus, Jai'Lyn Mosley, and last season's fifth-place finisher, Tory Ross, are both back to try and improve on those results in 2013. Although neither has produced similar distances from last season, Domitrovich is hoping the duo's strong, late-season performances will continue.
"We've tried some different things technically and tried to work through some different problems," Domitrovich said. "They've practiced fairly well for the last week or so, and hopefully, it will pay off."
As for the relays, the girls are confident they will at least make the final heats on Saturday.
"I think that we all have a pretty good chance," Frankie said. "I think that there's still room for improvement. If we go down there and do our best, I know that we can possibly place in the top eight for all three relays."