WATERFORD - Waterford sophomore Ally Rohrer ran a personal best of 1:02.01 in the 400 meter dash at Saturday's Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCCC) Indoor State Championships at the University of Akron's Stile Field House.
The clocking was good for a 13th-place finish, but not good enough for a medal. Only the top eight out of 16 participants in the event earned that.
"Ally was hoping to stand on the podium at the awards ceremony, but didn't," said Waterford girls' track and field coach Scott Miller. "She was disappointed in that, but overall, though, she had a good day at the indoor meet."
A good day after a bad week emotionally speaking.
Earlier on Tuesday, six-year-old Ava Nichols, who had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor two years before, had died with her family at her side.
"Ally told me she was a distant relative, and she took it pretty hard," Miller said.
Many people in the area did, and met at Dodge Park in Beverly Wednesday night to honor Ava's memory. Then, on Friday, a visitation was held at the town's McCurdy Funeral Home.
A private family service was conducted at the Beverly United Methodist Church late Saturday morning.
"Ally almost didn't run at the indoor state track meet," Miller said. "But then she changed her mind."
Rohrer competed - with Ava on her mind.
At the Akron event, Miller said, Rohrer was checking in her track shoes' silver spikes - only a quarter inch is allow - when she saw something out of the corner of her eye on the surface - a purple spike.
"How she saw that little spike in all that green, I'll never know," Miller said. "But she picked it up and showed it to me."
The Waterford coach paused.
"She said purple was Ava's favorite color," he continued, "and that she was going to run with it. She said it would inspire her."
So run with it Rohrer did, and as a result she set a PR in the 400. Her previous best time in the event had been 1:02.31, Miller said.
"Ally was very satisfied with her performance," Miller said.
Waterford is scheduled to open up its outdoor track and field season at the Ryan Jobes Invitational in Williamstown at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Rohrer, a freshman state qualifer in the 400 in Columbus last June, may be competing in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 events.
"This season, we're even thinking of running her in hurdles," Miller said. "She's quite an athlete."
Rohrer is also a very thoughtful young lady, who will be running with Ava on her mind this spring.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org