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June 1 — Bulldog Sport Round-up

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For many high school seniors, graduating high school means finally saying goodbye to the responsibilities that come with being in school. However, being in school sometimes facilitates interests that students truly like, and so graduating high school can mean a disappointing close to an integral part of their lives. For a few YSHS athletes, bidding goodbye to their coaches, teammates and Metro Buckeye Conference marks the definitive end of an era.

But as the old saying has it, when one door closes, another is sure to open. Class of 2017 graduates Olivia Chick, Olivia Brintlinger-Conn and Julian Roberts may have recently competed in their final high school games, but they will shortly ascend to new levels of play when they compete as college athletes. Chick will be part of the University of Michigan’s swim team, Brintlinger-Conn will be running track at Bryn Mawr and Roberts is planning to try out as a walk-on member of the track team at The Ohio State University.

For all these athletes, sports have been a part of their lives since they were little. Chick started swimming with the Sea Dogs and then began club swimming at age seven. After trying her hand at other sports, sometime in middle school she decided to focus solely on swimming. Her practice regimen had her attending between eight and nine practices a week, two of which were in the twilight hours before school started.

Brintlinger-Conn and Roberts both joined the McKinney track team in seventh grade. They were all taken with the approach of their coaches at the time, who Brintlinger-Conn said were “really good at helping athletes who have a motivation to get better.” The experience introduced Brintlinger-Conn to the sport and helped her realize she could still be an athlete even though she had asthma. They haven’t looked back since then, having competed every year until they graduated.

While the three athletes were performing at the top of their game in high school, they are preparing for competition that differs significantly from their experience at YSHS. “The school works hard to give everyone a chance,” Chick said, “and does a good job at letting people succeed in their own way.”

They know college teams are not quite as forgiving, but the higher stakes appeal to the heart of an athlete. Chick was courted by a number of colleges starting the summer before her junior year and was able to visit and train at three schools. She ultimately decided on Michigan State University, as it is close to family and she feels like she can contribute to the team there, as opposed to being just another swimmer on the team of a larger school. In addition to swimming, she will be majoring in elementary education. College swim practice starts in August of this year.

Brintlinger-Conn said she looked at colleges with the intention of joining the track team. She ultimately decided to go to Bryn Mawr, a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Roberts said she wanted to go a larger school in general and wasn’t particularly looking at track teams when it came time to make her decision. After deciding on OSU, she researched the track team’s walk-on requirements and found that her times from high school meets were very close. Roberts hasn’t officially joined the team but will be trying out once school starts.

Of course, as exciting as college may be, all of the athletes agree that one of the most difficult transitions is leaving their YSHS teams behind. The camaraderie of the teams and coaches has felt like a second family. According to Roberts, she and Brintlinger-Conn are not only close friends but are the “same person when it comes to track,” as they run in the same events and compete at similar levels.

“We are tail-and-tail the entire practice,” she said. “We hit a wall when we are not practicing together.”

Nevertheless, the colleges’ tracks and pools are calling their names, and the YSHS grads will in turn bring with them the philosophy of encouragement they learned at their alma mater.

Track and field
But the duty to the sport and school continues even after graduation, as Roberts and James Browning both qualified for the state track meet as a result of their performances at the regional track meet this past weekend at Troy Memorial Stadium.

According to coach John Gudgel, Roberts qualified for the state meet for the second year in a row with her runner-up finish in the 300 hurdles. Her time of 44.99 seconds made for a new school record. Browning achieved success in the high jump with a leap of 6´1˝, which earned him a fourth place finish at the meet and the opportunity to compete at the state level.

Both Roberts and Browning will compete at the fabled Jesse Owens Track Stadium this Friday on the campus of Ohio State University. Roberts will run in the 300-meter preliminary race at 11:20 a.m. while Browning will participate in the high jump finals at 1 p.m. Should Roberts make it through the preliminary rounds, she will run in the 300-meter hurdle finals on Saturday morning. Gudgel called the performance “a job well done that serves as an inspiration for future seasons.”

Other YSHS athletes placed at the meet as well and finished the year with success. Joe Plumer finished in seventh place in the long jump and earned a medal, while Amani Wagner’s ninth-place finish in the discus was one spot removed from earning a medal. Also competing were Jasmine Davidson in the shot put, Brintlinger-Conn in the 300 hurdles, Payden Kegley in pole vault, Ayanna Madison in the 100 meters, and the relay team of Madison, Christina Banks, Stacia Strodes and True Hall in the 400-meter relay.

Another senior softball player ended her tenure as a Bulldog with a series of impressive fetes. YSHS pitcher Hannah Morrison was selected to play in the Division IV High School Southwest District All Star Softball Game on June 14th at 7 p.m. at West Carrollton High School. Morrison, who just graduated as the class valedictorian, led her team to first place finishes the past two years in the Metro Buckeye Conference. The team was undefeated this year in MBC play due in large part to Morrison’s dominance on the mound, as she went 6-0 in MBC League play with 67 strikeouts in 36 innings, pitching with a sparkling 1.17 earned run average.

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