COLUMBIANA-When Columbiana junior discus thrower Addie Dunlap made it to her first state track meet last year she couldn't believe how big the spectacle was.
"It felt like I was at the Olympics last year," Dunlap said. "The stands were so huge and there were a ton of people cheering. It was fantastic."
Dunlap worked all year to try and re-live that initial experience, and will now get her chance after finishing second at the Division III Navarre regional with a school-record throw of 133-feet-7.
"I loved that feeling of being at state and all I wanted to do was feel it again," Dunlap said. "When I made my last throw at regionals and found out it would be good enough I was able to breathe a lot easier."
Dunlap's path back to Columbus was anything but easy. Going into her final throw at the regional meet she was lodged in fifth place, two feet behind fourth. For a moment, the thought crossed her mind that the season might be over.
"Going into my final throw I started thinking that fifth would be OK," Dunlap said. "I was thinking that I already went last year and that I still had one more year to try."
However, those thoughts were quickly dashed as Dunlap then remembered how much she loved the experience of state and wanted to get back.
"Right before I was going to throw I remembered what state was like and it made me want that final throw more than I thought I did. It really made me focus."
Dunlap will get to share her experience with sophomore high jumper Shayla Ray who will be competing at state for the first time. Ray finished third at the Navarre regional with a jump of 5-foot-0, a considerable improvement on her freshman year when she qualified for regionals but did not place.
"Last year I think I let things overwhelm me," Ray said. "There were a lot of people there and I slipped up a little bit."
During the winter, Ray worked on her technique at the Youngstown State indoor track facility and started strong in 2013, setting a personal-high of 5-5 early in the season.
"I worked very hard on building up my strength during the winter and I was very confident that I could improve this season," Ray said.
However, a late-season foot injury cast some doubt on her chances of making it to state. She stripped down her schedule to focus on the high jump and entered regionals with a much more relaxed mindset than last year.
Ray credited the change in approach to a 16th-place finish at the AAU Track and Field Nationals over the summer.
"When I made it back to regionals this year, the experience was 10 times better than last year. After going to nationals over the summer, the regional event seemed small. Instead of being nervous I was really loose and laid back."
Though she is only a sophomore, Ray does not expect to be overwhelmed by her first state meet.
"I'm excited to see how I measure up against the older girls more than anything," Ray said. "I'll have two more years after this so it will be nice to know what I have to work towards."
Also for Columbiana, senior long jumper Britton Steiginga will be making his second straight appearance in Columbus after finishing ninth in the lost jump last year.
"It feels really cool to be going back," Steiginga said. "It's something I was shooting for all season. I'm excited to see if I can improve on last year."
Steiginga will have plenty of local company in Columbus. United sophomore Riley Fillman and South Range senior Jake Arsuffi will also be competing in the long jump on Friday. Fillman won the Navarre regional, edging out Steiginga by half an inch with a jump of 21-11 /12. Arsuffi finished fourth at 21-2.
Steiginga and Arsuffi have been friends since middle school and are looking forward to ending their high school careers competing with each other.
"It's great to be going down with a friend," Steiginga said. "It will make the experience even more exciting. I told Jake before the regional that he better be coming down to Columbus with me."
Steiginga's high school career will come to an end this month. After competing at the state track meet, he will conclude his football career on June 28 in the Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic at Geneva College.
"I've had a great time competing in high school," Steiginga said. "I'm really looking forward to ending everything in a good way."