by Sara Welch | Reporter
Columbus -- Streetsboro sent more athletes to Columbus in more than two decades.
By the time the Division II track and field state championships had ended, the Rockets had made history.
Starting with its first-ever state champion: Freshman Dakari Carter, who won the 100 meters in a blurring time of 10.83 seconds June 7 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
The time was just shy of his qualifying time of 10.71, which set a school record during the preliminary round June 6.
"My thought going into the 100 was that I watched [James A. Garfield's] Edie [Svonavec] throw in the shot and win it," Streetsboro head coach Tom Fesemyer said. "I came back and [Southeast's] Jenna [Fesemyer], my niece, was in the wheelchair 800 and I watched her win it. My next thought was, 'How about a trifecta.'
"Dakari pulled it off and he pulled it off because he believed he could pull it off. There was no doubt in his mind when he stepped on the track that he could win.
"We spent a lot of time prepping him throughout the season to get to this point. We knew early on that he was fast. Midway through the season, we realized just how fast he was and just how good of an athlete he is.
"More importantly, he's a great kid. He's done everything we've asked of him and I think everything came together in that 100."
Throughout the season, Carter's style of running has been to run to the level of his competition.
He competes with an unwillingness to lose and on Ohio's biggest stage, he followed his philosophy on a sprint to the finish line.
"It was very exciting to win the 100," Carter said. "God played a big part in this and my teammates and family and everybody from our city, so I just want to thank everybody for all of the support."
Carter returned to the starting blocks later and took third (22.16) in the 200 meters.
Starting the race, he was challenged with running in lane seven, an outside lane, and had trouble gauging the speed of his competitors.
The outcome of the race can be traced back to his qualifying race June 6.
As a freshman, he was tasked with competing in four events: The 100, 200 and 400 and 800 relays.
As all of the relays are completed in the window of an half hour, Carter understandably suffered from fatigue before the 200 prelims.
"He was in four events as a freshman in the state track meet and that's hard," Fesemyer said.
"He came out of the 100, ran a 4x200 [800 relay] to qualify and came out in the 4x100 [400 relay] and didn't qualify. He was not feeling particularly well after the 4x100.
"Not that we ever had thoughts of scratching him from the 200, but we certainly had him in the shade packed in ice, getting liquids into him trying to get him to the point where he could at least qualify for the 200.
"We decided to worry about the 200 [June 7] and because of that, he didn't get a great lane in the 200. Lane seven, eight, nine somewhere out there in the state meet is hard to run because you're really not gauging off the fastest guys in the state.
"The strongest part of his race in the 200 is probably his last 110 where he starts to come on.
"I think in the last 50 or 60, he came out of the back of the pack to finish third, so put him on an inside lane where he can gauge his competition a little better and it might be a better result. But that's OK, I'm happy with him at third place."
Carter ran to a third medal June 7, helping the Rockets' 800 relay team to a seventh-place finish (1:30.29). Joining Carter were freshman Myron Jones, junior Prince Franklin and senior Daniel Sapp.
It was only the second time in school history that an 800 team qualified for the state meet. The first team to do it was last year's group.
"We're very blessed to be in the top 10 in the state in the 4x200," Sapp said.
Last year's qualifying group failed to stand on the podium.
This year's group immediately made it a priority to find redemption in that shortcoming.
"It was a blessing," Franklin said. "It was different because last year we were one off. We ran the 4x200 and didn't qualify. That made me hungry as a person."
The four sprinters wanted to break 1:28. They fell short, but were still satisfied.
"It feels great," Jones said. "I just feel humble and blessed to have them as my teammates and be a part of this 4x200 team. We could have done better, but we always have next year."
The 400 relay of Carter, junior Victor Glass, senior Parris Burton and Franklin placed 13th (44.26).
The boys team finished eighth with 18 points.
Dayton Dunbar won the competition with 47 points and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy took second with 46 points. Pemberville Eastwood placed third (38). A total of 76 teams scored.
Streetsboro senior Destiny King, a Duquesne University (Pa.) commit, qualified for the state meet in the girls 100 hurdles and the long jump.
She fell in the hurdles, leading to a disqualification and she placed 14th overall in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet, 9 inches.
"It broke my heart first of all," Fesemyer said. "She just didn't get her lead leg up and caught the hurdle and it put her into a roll. She rolled and came up, fortunately, and wasn't hurt from that.
"She ended up hitting the next hurdle with her hands, which is an automatic disqualification.
"My comment to her was one race does not define her career at Streetsboro or define her as a person."
The girls team finished in a seven-way tie for 61st place with two points.
Dayton Meadowdale won with 40 points and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Orrville and Millersburg West Holmes tied for second with 25 points. A total of 73 teams scored.