Drozd leads four Vikings to state
Senior Cameron Drozd hadn’t competed in track and field since junior high, but with one last opportunity to compete in a state championship, he put away his soccer cleats and busted out his spikes.
The decision has paid off as Drozd qualified for the state championships in Omaha on Friday and Saturday in three events - the 800 and 1600 meters on the track and triple jump in the field.
“I wanted to make it to state, I’ve been playing four sports my four years in high school and we hadn’t made it to anything except playoffs in football,” Drozd said. “This was my best chance to make it to state. I knew if I put in a lot of hard work in track practice it could happen.”
Drozd had a successful middle school track career. In the eighth grade he ran a 5:12 mile and jumped 31-8 in the triple jump.
When Drozd ran a 5:06 in the mile in the first meet of 2019, he said he surprised himself even a little.
“I was definitely shocked when I saw I ran a 5:06 because I wasn’t expecting to run that fast, especially on the first meet,” he said. “When I saw that I was like, ‘This is something I can do and be pretty good at.’”
Drozd continued throughout the season and ran a 4:47.50 in districts to qualify for state. He also jumped 40 feet, 8.5 inches in the triple jump.
Boys head coach Don Bentz said he was excited to get Drozd out for the team.
“I knew in junior high he had been a really good 800 runner and triple jumper,” he said. “I knew we were going to get someone that was going to be able to fill some spots for us.
“I think I was surprised a little at how well he started off the season running and just continued to get better. He’s just a great competitor. He just goes out and lays it all on the line every event that he does. That was big for us.”
Despite being seeded in the bottom half at three events at state, Bentz said he believes Drozd’s competitive nature will give him a chance to compete.
“In most the meets we’ve had, there’s been some great competition in the mile,” he said. “There was that anticipation for that mile run, because we knew with Cameron, he was going to go out and we were going to get the best effort out of him every race.
“I think he just rises to the challenge when he sees that competition. We know he’s going to go down to state and we’re going to get the best effort out of him. We really think he can come away with some points and some medals.”
Three others are hoping to do the same for the Vikings - junior Kienan Prorok, senior Zeth Gerkensmeyer and senior Brittney Stock also punched tickets to championship at the district track meet.
“I feel really excited and I think it’s going to be fun,” Prorok said. “I knew I was going to improve on my jump from last year because I’ve been working hard all summer and getting better in the weight room.”
Prorok qualified for state in the long jump. His personal record thus fan is 19-11.50. He hopes to be able to break 20 feet at the state meet.
“We knew he was going to be a good jumper for us and score some points, Bentz said. “He hit a 19-11.5 early in the season, which put him near the top in our district. Then he went through a couple of meets where he kind of struggled a little getting his foot work down and seemed to put it back together starting at conference.
“He hit another one over 19 and then it just started to build from there.”
Gerksenmeyer, who will be competing at state track for the first time, has been pole vaulting for four years.
At the district meet he cleared the bar at 12-4 to lock in his spot. He said the dare devil aspect of flying in the sky is what he enjoys about the event
“It feels like it’s right about time I made it (to state),” he said. “I’ve been doing this sport for four years. I haven’t made it to state and I told myself I’m never going to go to Burke unless I’m there pole vaulting. I finally achieved that goal, and it feels pretty good. It’s right where I want to be.”
Bentz credited Gerkensmeyer with putting in the hard work the last four years to reach his goal of making it to state.
“It’s great for Zeth, I’m really happy for him,” he said. “Pole vault is one those events where it’s mentally taxing. You can have one meet where everything just goes perfect for you and you can have the next meet and nothing goes right. He came into this year and was just really focused. It was nice to see all the work he’s put in at pole vault the last four years pay off.”
Stock is back at state again, making it a perfect 4 for 4 in her varsity career.
Though she’s been competing in sprints, and will again in the 100, Stock is anxious to see how she does on the big stage in a middle-distance run.
“I was really excited because I didn’t expect to go, in the 400 especially,” she said. “We always dropped that for districts. Once I saw that I was the top time I figured I could compete in it this year.”
One of the main competitors that pushed Stock this season was her own sister, freshman Macy Stock, who Brittney described has her best friend.
Girls head coach Chris Toms said the two sisters pushed each other in practice and meets to continue improving.
“It was really cool,” Brittney said. “Some people asked if we hated running against each other, but we’re like best friends. It was honestly an incredible experience to have her run with me, and I’m really going to miss her next year.”
Stock said her goal at state is to set personal records in both events. Her and her coach also believe she could be competitive in the 400 due to the draw she received.
“I think knowing what to expect regardless of what event it is, is huge,” Toms said. “I think she’s going to go down there and really compete well.”
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com