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Vanessa Lane's diligent work ethic this season has paid off big time.
The Tallmadge senior high jumper qualified for the Division I state track and field meet, which is scheduled to take place June 2 and 3 at The Ohio State University's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
Lane advanced to Columbus with a third-place leap of 5 feet, 4 inches May 24 at the Austintown-Fitch regional meet. She actually tied the top two finishers, Walsh Jesuit's Nichole Charnigo and Stow-Munroe Falls' Maria Cistone, but placed behind them because she had more misses.
The top four finishers in each event advanced to Columbus. Lane is scheduled to jump June 3 at noon.
"I was really excited about it," Lane said. "I was nervous going in. My coach didn't let me know what the other girls were jumping. It was hard because I didn't know where I was."
The butterflies may have gotten to Lane early in the meet. And then her mood dramatically changed.
The rest, you can say, is history.
"I missed 5-2 once and then I missed 5-3 once," Lane said. "When I don't jump well, I get really made and that helps me stay focused."
Lady Blue Devils head coach Mike Srodawa was pleased to see his senior reach the ultimate stage.
"I think Vanessa did great," Srodawa said. "There was some stiff competition. She has been progressing along, maturing as a jumper. She had to battle to get in. It was a great meet for her."
Lane, a former cross country runner, has focused solely on high jumping during the spring.
"I used to run distance in track," Lane said. "I ran the mile sometimes and I would do other stuff. This year, I didn't run distance at all."
Lane was able to qualify for the state competition despite changing her approach earlier in the season.
"I jumped well with the short approach," she said. "I went six steps and I jumped 5-4. And then I didn't get 5-4 the next few weeks. I decided to go from six steps to eight steps and it worked for me."
Lane, who plans to continue her academic and track and field careers at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, would certainly be thrilled to end her career on the podium. Medal or no medal, though, the senior jumper is looking forward to the experience.
"I'm just going to enjoy myself," Lane said.
Also in action May 24 was Lane's classmate, Brittney Harris.
Harris qualified for the finals in the 100-meter hurdles with a seventh-place - and season-best - preliminary time of 15.24 seconds. The top eight advanced to the finals, which were scheduled to take place May 26. Results were not available at press time.
"Brittney is peaking at the right time," Srodawa said.
Junior Sara Johnson also was scheduled to compete May 26 in the long jump.
Tallmadge was in 10th place out of 20 teams with six points after the first day of the regional competition.
Mentor was in the lead with 13 points and Walsh Jesuit and Solon were tied for second with 10 points.