By SETH STASKEY
For The News-Register
COLUMBUS - What a difference a year makes.
After missing out on the state track meet and spending the first weekend in June at home in the Ohio Valley in 2013, St. John's Fallon Doyle and River's Abby Caldwell made sure they didn't let this season end in the same way.
Both talented underclassmen earned all-Ohio status for the 2014 season by virtue of placing in Saturday's championship heat as the track and field season wrapped up Saturday morning at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University.
For Doyle, the trip to the podium was the second of her career, while Caldwell was in her maiden voyage to the capital city as a competitor.
The St. John junior stood in exactly the same spot Saturday that she did in 2012. She ran the 1,600 meter race in 5:11.27 to finish fifth.
"I am very, very happy with how the race played out today," Doyle said moments after stepping off the podium. "I couldn't be happier. It was a great day."
Doyle earned that place after utilizing a furious kick in the final 125 or so meters in which she tracked down two competitors.
"It's the last race of the year, so I knew I had to give it all I had," Doyle said.
The first 700 meters a pack of 10 formed and ran basically together, but the lead pack took out in the middle of the third lap and took command of the event. However, that's exactly what Doyle expected.
"It was like that my freshman year, too," Doyle said. "I think I was more aware that the race was going to go like that, but I really didn't think the (separation) would come as soon as it did, actually.
If there was any disappointment for Doyle it's the fact that she ran three seconds slower than what she did the previous two weekends of the tournament trail.
"I wish I had ran a 5:07 for a personal record, but it was hot out," Doyle said. "The race just didn't play out that way for me."
Caldwell, meanwhile, not only had not qualified for a state meet in her brief track history, but she actually just started running the 300 low hurdles this season.
Caldwell had run the 200 low hurdles in junior high, but was utilized more of an open sprinter as a frosh since the Pilots boasted Cassidy McCullough, who won the 2013 and 2014 state titles in the event.
It's been a decision that head coach Bob Cicogna hasn't regretted. Caldwell - the OVAC champion in the lows - finished sixth in a personal best time of 45.30.
"I am really pumped," Caldwell said proudly displaying her all-Ohio medal. "I wish I could have done a little bit better place wise, obviously, but I am still really happy to have made the final."
Though she had a little bit of hurdling background, was an all-Ohio finish to the season in Caldwell's mind when the season began in March?
"Honestly, not at all," Caldwell said. "But, I did it and I am really excited."
Caldwell posted a 45.25 clocking in Friday's semifinal to advance to the final, which is where she expiernced the most nerves of the weekend.
"I was more nervous for the semis because you have to get (to Saturday)," Caldwell said. "Once I was in the final, I just ran."
Caldwell - like Doyle - used a strong rally in the homestretch to advance herself up the podium a couple of steps.
"I dropped like a second (at the state meet) from what I'd been running all year, so I am pumped about it," Caldwell said.
As for what lies ahead, Caldwell plans to use the sixth-place medal as motivation for her next two seasons.
"I just want to go on the podium higher," Caldwell said.
Steubenville Central produced its second all-Ohio finisher of the weekend. Senior Monica Rigaud joined Moriah Vosteen as an all-stater.
Rigaud placed fifth in 15.28, earning her third all-Ohio status in the event.
Though the third straight season with a medal was satisfying, there was still a level of disappointment.
"My goal for the past six years, running the hurdles, has to break 15, and I did not," Rigaud said. "But, I am proud of where I've come. Although fifth is not where I wanted to finish, my times (at state) have been better each year."
Rigaud was the state runnerup last season and ran a slower time than she did on Saturday.
"I guess you can't look at the places," Rigaud said. "I am proud of how I have represented our school the past four years running track."