She was the one on the side of the track yelling “seven” as the sophomore hurdler cruised by the competition in the 300 hurdles for Edison.
Lonabarger placed eighth at last year’s Division II state meet, and her mom, Tonna Lonabarger, would chant “seven” as a way to motivate her daughter while competing to fight for a better outcome at the end of the season.
Unfortunately, Lonabarger won’t get a chance to fight for a better finish in the 300 hurdles, as she was eliminated in last week’s regional meet. She returns to the state meet this week in the 100 hurdles, however, and is just as motivated to make the podium.
“I don’t know what she’s going to yell now,” Lonabarger said with a laugh. “She’s probably just going to yell ‘go Caitlen’ like normal people. She was still very proud of me. They are always proud of me no matter what. I still have two more years, so they weren’t disappointed. That day just wasn’t my day”
Lonabarger finished second at the regional in the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.57 seconds, eight tenths of a second behind first place Trinniti Hall of Orrville.
“I am pumped and ready to go,” Lonabarger said. “I feel ready. I just want to go out there and do my best”
Lonabarger is seeded sixth at 15.57 in the fast heat of the 100 hurdles. The top two finishers in each heat automatically advance to the final, plus the next five best times. There are two heats for the 100 hurdles. “I don’t look at times, but my coach tells me everything,” Lonabarger said. “He said the top runner is around 14.8. My best is a 15.5 so if I drop three tenths of a second I can make it to the finals. My goal is to get to the finals and get on that podium. I am going to try really hard to get a 15.2 or even try to beat the school record”
It’s been a long and successful season for the sophomore Charger, but Lonabarger said her outlook has completely changed from freshman to sophomore year.
“Physically last summer going into this year, I was working out with the football players twice a week. I would just try to get stronger,” she said. “I could tell it worked and I definitely was faster.
“Mentally, as a freshman last year, I had people constantly telling me I was going to make it to state. I really didn’t know if I could do that. I dropped so much time by the end of last season that eventually I did realize that I could. This year, I went in knowing I could do it. I worked harder to get better at my form”
Joining Lonabarger is a handful of Chargers hoping to turn heads at the biggest meet of the season.
The 4x800 relay team of Lucas Wallace, Mike Biltz, Chris Hoffman and Clay Goodwin took third (8:07.27) behind Huron’s team of Ryan VanCauwenbergh, Kevin Tomczyk, Danzell Harris and Spencer Maddox at the regional meet. The Charger relay team is seeded tenth based on their 8:07.25 seed time. Brandon Cushler will join the boys relay team, qualifying in the long jump.
The 4x800 girls team of Cassidy Pierce, Tori Stallkamp, Kristin McCarthy and Madison Moyer will make its second straight state appearance in the event. Stallkamp, McCarthy, and Pierce all went last year, while Moyer, a freshman is making her first appearance.
“It’s looking really competitive,” Stallkamp said of the competition. “We had a 12-second PR at the regional and that really got us excited. We also know we can do better. Looking ahead, we are really hoping to PR and just run one of our best races yet”
The quad ran the 2-mile relay in 9:47.21 at the regional, and is ranked 15th in the 16-team event based on that seed time.
“Our coach does a very good job making us aware of the race and what the situation is going to be,” Stallkamp said. “Any givenday, any given race, it can be anyone out there. I feel like mentally we are at a really good point in the season. We are all really excited. Three of us are returning so we know how it goes.
“We have a freshman, but she definitely doesn’t act like a freshman,” Stallkamp added. “She has a lot of character and strength and willing to do whatever it takes. We work really well together and we have the fight and motivation”