OSAGE – Forest City junior Kelsey Koch took a couple of warmup leaps before the starter called for runners’ marks at the class 2A district meet in Osage.
She shook out her legs and arms, her bouncy blonde curls illuminated by the bright stadium lights as she steadied herself in the blocks.
The 100 hurdles would be a close one, but she was prepared for nothing less.
The gun sounded and the runners started flying. Koch was in the third heat, the fastest.
As she came closer into the finish line, Osage’s Paige Kisley stayed just one-half-foot behind her, leaping the hurdles in almost unison. Garner-Hayfield-Ventura’s Madeline Hinz was also on pace, just a few lanes away.
But Koch’s lead leg landed far beyond the others, enabling her to power through the finish.
“Yeah I saw the girl right next to me, I felt it,” Koch said. “I just had to push a little harder.”
The technicalities of a short sprint stem from the start, but adding hurdles to the mix makes it more technical. Koch, Kisley and Hinz could be the same speed on the ground, but it’s the way each glided over their hurdles that made the difference.
“I have to snap my lead leg faster because I tend to leg it a little bit,” Koch said. “So, if I can just get it down a little bit and keep running, you want to stay on the ground as much as you can, so that’s what I focused on.”
Koch says that she practices on shorter hurdles, so she can gain confidence in going lower over the hurdle. That’s what enabled her to win the race, getting her lead leg to touch the ground first at 15.99 seconds leaving Hinz and Kisley to battle it out and 16.26 and 16.27 seconds respectively.
At state, the competition will be even tighter.
“Just continue to work on the little things, she’s in position to do really well going where she’s going,” head coach Jason Sopko said. “When you get to state and everybody’s good it’s the little things that add up that make you medal.”