NAVARRE - With experience comes accomplishment. The United girls 3200-meter girls relay team can attest to that.
Finishing with a school-record time of 9:40.15, the quartet of Emily Guappone, Maggie Briceland, Chloe Bortmas and Allison Parks led a slew of local athletes who punched their ticket to the state track meet on Wednesday at the Navarre Division III regional meet.
It's the second straight year the Golden Eagles will compete in Columbus, with three of the four girls making a repeat visit. The only newcomer to the group - the senior Bortmas - replaced the graduated Ruth Prosko.
"This year was all about filling in the gaps from last year," Parks said. "Chloe filled in the gap so well. We're so lucky to have her."
Perennial power Gates Mills Gilmour Academy won the race at 9:33.34, less than 5 seconds off the regional record the Lancers set in 2010. Hawken placed second at 9:38.37, while the Golden Eagles finished in third.
"Our defining goal for the year is that we just wanted to do our best," Guappone said. "You always want to get back there when you have a taste of states. I'm just glad we all had the drive to do it."
The school record put this United squad into elite company. It tops last year's record time of 9:41.70, also set at Navarre regionals. Their current time is the best by a Columbiana County team in over a decade.
"I love this team," Parks said. "I would never want to be on another team. The girls here are like a family, and we are all sisters. We all support each other. If you have a bad day, there is always somebody there cheering you on."
Another notable pair of sisterly athletes are Columbiana's high jumpers Shayla Ray and Hayli Davidson. Ray tied for third in the high jump (5-foot-0), reserving her first ever trip to states, but fellow Clipper Davidson fell just short at sixth (5-0).
"We're really close," Ray said. "She (Davidson) started in eighth grade and I started freshman year, so we're learning off of and from each other. I've been trying to push her and help her realize her potential. She's just a freshman and she's already jumped five foot, so it's there."
Both Ray and Davidson have plenty of time to learn, as Ray is a sophomore with Davidson right behind her. Still, Ray realizes that there is still work to be done.
"I'm looking for a lot of competition," Ray said. "I'm going to be jumping against some of the best girls out there. I'm looking forward to it."
Elsewhere, three local boys advanced to Columbus in the long jump, including United sophomore Riley Fillman, who won the event with a jump of 21-11 1/2 and a half inches. Columbiana's Britton Steiginga was second (21-11) and South Range's Jake Arsuffi was fourth (21-2 1/4).
Jon Kenney of South Range is the lone throwing athlete who clinched a trip to state on Wednesday. His toss of 156-7 in the discus placed him at fourth. Rootstown's David Paliscak won the event at 178-8. United's Luke Cooper finished in eighth at 139-8. The girls discus and boys shot put will take place at the Navarre regional finals on Friday.
In the boys preliminaries, Wellsville's Justin Gregg led all local runners with three qualifications, finishing third in the 200 (22.44), third in the 110 hurdles (15.30) and fifth in the 100 (11.02). Two-time state qualifier Nick Blower also made the cut in the 100, finishing eighth (11.44).
South Range's Andrew O'Leary also had a big day, finishing second in the 400 (49.55) and first in the 200 (22.31). O'Leary also led South Range relays to the regional finals, getting the top time in the 1600 relay (3:26.24) and fourth best in the 800 relay(1:31.52).
Also in boys' relays, United and Western Reserve each qualified in the 400, with the Golden Eagles taking second (43.75) and the Blue Devils finishing sixth (44.86). Western Reserve also finished seventh in the 800 with a time of 1:33.56.
Fillman, meanwhile, was second in the 300 hurdles (39.80) to go along with his long jump victory.
In other relay action, East Palestine finished 11th in the 1600 relay (3:38.72), while United was 14th (3:41.16). South Range was 11th in the 400 relay (45.57).
Josh Schlueter of Crestview finished 13th in the 110 hurdles (16.15).
For the girls, Wellsville's Shartece Taylor had the top times in the 100 (12.44) and 200 (25.53). South Range's Raianne Mason was the only other local runner to advance to finals, finishing in seventh in the 300 hurdles (48.51).
Lisbon's Bobbi Jo Evans barely missed the cut in the 400, finishing ninth at 61.78. Crestview's Maura Belding was 15th in the 100 (13.64) and 14th in the 200m (28.70). United's Amanda DeRuyter was 12th in the 100 hurdles (17.54).
In the high jump, East Palestine's Chloe Snyder tied Davidson for sixth (5-0) and Crestview's Cassidy Ross was eighth (4-10).
In shot put, Wellsville's Amanda Coles and South Range's Catherine Schuler finished at 10th and 11th, respectively.
No local relay teams advanced to finals with United finishing ninth in the 1600 (4:15.66) and South Range 11th (4:16.53). The Raiders also finished 12th in the 800 (1:52.21). Wellsville was 10th in the 400 relay(52.30), while Western Reserve was 11th (52.91). In the 3200 relay, South Range was 10th (10:18.58) and East Palestine was 14th (10:48.38).