Girls Track Team Wins State Tournament
First state team title in school history
June 9, 2017
The Beachwood girls track team made history at the Div. II state track meet finals held at OSU on June 3, becoming the first Bison team in any sport to bring home a team state title.
“It’s a relief,” head coach Willie Smith told Cleveland.com. “The Beachwood community deserves it. The school deserves it. There are schools that have 10, 15, 20 state titles across all sports, and [this is Beachwood’s first]. This is really special.”
The athletes who qualified for states included junior Leah Roter, junior Mia Knight, sophomore Ashaunti Griffin, and freshmen Ashley Perryman and Ayla Gambrell.
The team scored 35 points in five events, a remarkable accomplishment for such a small group of athletes.
Leah Roter won the 3,200-meter race and placed fifth in the 1,600.
Mia Knight claimed second place in the 100 and sixth in the 200. In addition, Knight ran with teammates Griffin, Perryman and Gambrell to win the 4×100 relay.
“Going into the meet, I felt pretty confident,” Knight said. “Since we won an indoor state title, we all knew that if we could bring just a couple quality events down to states, we would do well … We really didn’t put a lot of pressure on ourselves to win a state title.”
“I was confident that we had a legitimate chance to win our first ever state championship,” Athletics Director Ryan Peters said. “However, everything had to go right for us to win, and it did.”
Knight described the moment she learned the team had won the state championship was “unreal.”
“We didn’t really think about [winning the state championship] at all until Leah finished her 3,200 and they started to reveal the scores of each team,” Knight said. “We heard that we had a six point lead over another team, and we were going into the last event of the meet and they weren’t in that event. We were like, did we just win? It was such an amazing feeling, and we were speechless; we all hugged each other and cried.”
Peters said that watching the Bison team claim the state championship trophy “brought tears to my eyes.”
“This was my happiest and proudest moment I ever experienced as Beachwood’s Director of Athletics,” Peters said. “I have never felt anything like this before … I get so much happiness watching our athletes celebrate together and celebrating with their families. It is by far my favorite part of my job.”
Knight felt the excitement of being in the middle of the action at the state meet.
“I love going to states because everyone’s so excited to be there no matter what grade they’re in or what event they’re in,” Knight said. “Everybody’s always cheering everybody on. Sure, we have tough competition, but it’s such a friendly atmosphere … People are looking out for you, bringing you water, rolling you out … The stands are always packed with parents, fans, and scouts. There’s so much going on.”
“The atmosphere was electric,” Peters added. “I have been attending this track meet for years, but this year was different—the weather was near perfect … We had amazing parent and fan support, greater than I have ever seen over past years. Our fans brought a high level of intensity and passion that fueled our state runners.”
“We performed really well, considering we had two freshmen in the 4×100 relay; they really stepped up to the plate, kept their composure, and didn’t get nervous,” Knight said. “We didn’t have any seniors. We’re all coming back next year, so we can get better, stronger, and grow more comfortable with our races.”
Besides the team’s state title, Knight also broke previously held school records in the 100 and the 200, and Roter broke the school record in the 1,600.
Knight stressed the hard work she and her teammates put into the season.
“We trained almost all year-round,” Knight said. “We work really hard, and a lot of people don’t see what goes on behind the scenes—how hard we work and the things that we have to battle, the things we have to overcome, especially being such a small group.”
“I think it is just a great moment,” Roter told The News-Herald. “…Everyone on my team here just did so amazing. I think as a team, we are all proud of one another and all that we achieved.”
“I thought we were going to be [high in the team standings], but I didn’t actually think we were going to get first,” Roter added. “There’s only six of us, and there are so many other qualifiers and big runners in the state. I guess we just have it in the bag this year. We won regional—no one is graduating. So we’re all coming back next year to dominate.”
“This group of girls will forever be remembered as the ones who changed Bison athletics,” Peters said.
“[It has been a challenge to make] everyone believe that we could win state titles,” he added. “Now, I think everyone believes.”