Life in the fast lane with Meadow Benton

Give me an M-E-A-D-O-W.

What’s that spell?

Meadow!

Again.

Meadow!

One more time.

Meadow, as in Meadow Benton! Yea!

The Marietta High senior was a Tigers’ cheerleading co-captain. So, she might get a kick out of that little cheer for her.

Thing is, Benton’s also a track standout, who has put herself in a good position in next week’s OHSAA Division I regional at Pickerington North. There, she’ll have an opportunity to qualify for early-June’s state meet in Columbus in three events — the 100 dash, and the 4 by 1 and 4 by 2 relays. She’ll have to place in the top 4 in each event to advance.

Sounds fatiguing.

“It’s very tiring, but when you do something you love, you can’t get tired of it that easy,” said Benton at Thursday’s district competition at Don Drumm Stadium on the campus orf Marietta College. “I’ll be ready for it.”

At district, Benton placed third in the 100 in 12.88; third in the 4 by 2 and first in the 4 by 1, with the relays also including sophomore Courtney Schuck, senior Lexie Mullen and senior Torrance Nonnenmacher.

Benton was almost a regional qualifier in the 200 but placed fifth in 27.47 in the finals.

“Meadow’s had a real good season,” said MHS coach Mollie Schramm. “She came out stronger. I don’t know if it’s from cheering or what. But she’s more focused and maybe grown up a little bit. That sometimes helps. She’s definitely stronger this year than last year.”

A year ago, Benton was a spectator at the regional meet.

Since then, the 4 by 1 and 2 have had a makeover. With Schuck and Mullen, back on the track team after a year’s absence, added to the middle and Benton and Nonnenmacher at the leadoff and anchor, respectively, those two Tiger relay teams have become very competitive. And, in the case of the 4 by 1, unbeatable and school record-setting.

At district, the 4 by 1 was clocked in 50.50 seconds, which broke the 1986 mark of 50.7 previously held by Hackathorn, Flannery, Duckworth, and Misty Singer Mahefkey.

“I’m the one who starts it off,” Benton said. “I get us out of the gate and make sure everything’s good to go — and get us a little lead.

“I hand it off to Courtney, and she usually picks up a lead for us. And, when Lexie takes us around the turn, it’s amazing. And then Torrance finishes it off for us. You couldn’t have anyone better to finish it off.”

Benton paused.

“I’ve been running with Torrance since my seventh-grade year,” she continued. “We have a really good connection when we run.”

Nonnenmacher, incidentally, was also a regional qualifier in the long jump. A year ago in the LJ, she placed fourth with a school-record leap of 18-2.75 and stood on the podium at state.

After the 4 by 1 set the new standard, Schramm said, “Meadow definitely gets them out to a good start. Everybody in the middle keeps it strong, and then Torrance comes in at the end and finishes it. They’re four very, very solid sprinters. And that’s a blessing to have.”

As for Benton’s future after graduation…well, she’s weighing her options — and she’s even considering running track at the next level.

“I’ve really thought about it,” she said. “But I just don’t know if it’s the right thing to do for my first two years.

“I was going to Ohio University, but I’ve decided Washington State (Community College) would be better. I might try to walk on at Ohio University or I might try to cheer lead for Ohio State.”

Ron Johnston is a Marietta Times sports writer and can be reached at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com

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