Created on Monday, 10 June 2013 Written by AARON LaBATT
COLUMBUS — The tears were fighting to get out after the race, but Meghan Vogel wouldn’t let them. She fought them off with everything she had.
West Liberty-Salem’s Meghan Vogel, center, battles Columbus Academy’s Julia Rizk, left, for second place as Hawken’s Alexandra Markovich, right, crosses the finish line during the girls 1,600-meter run Saturday at the Division III state meet in Columbus. (EXAMINER PHOTO | AARON LaBATT)
The West Liberty-Salem senior distance star, and defending state champion in the 1,600-meter run, had just failed to defend her crown here Saturday morning at the Division III state track and field meet.
Instead, Vogel placed third in the 1,600 with a season-best time of 5:00.28 inside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“It definitely didn’t go how I wanted it to,” said Meghan Vogel. “I wanted to win it again.
“I ran my best time of the season, so that was the best I have done. I’m glad I did that, but I’m still definitely disappointed with how the race turned out.”
Vogel gave a memorable performance at last year’s state meet when she surged past Versailles star Tammy Berger, who now races for Ohio State, and won the 1,600 in 4:58.
On Saturday, though, the Tiger had to battle another talented field and the fatigue caused by a bout with mono that she was diagnosed with at the beginning of May.
“It wasn’t her day, but it didn’t define her career,” said WL-Salem girls head coach Ann Vogel. “I think she put it all out there and gave it her best. It was the second-best time of her career and that was with swollen lymph nodes.
“Most kids would have thrown in the towel after being diagnosed with mono, but Meghan was determined to persevere not only for herself, but for her team. We backed off a little bit with her mileage and did what we had to so we could get her through the season. She could have said I’ve got mono and stopped, but she set an example.”
Vogel moved into second place halfway through the race on Saturday, but saw Alexandra Markovich of Hawken begin to pull away on the final lap.
“When I saw Markovich go and begin to pull away on that last lap, I just wasn’t able to go with her,” said Meghan Vogel. “It was tough to watch.”
Markovich went on to win the 1,600 state title in 4:57.88. Vogel then battled Columbus Academy’s Julia Rizk in the last 20 meters and was edged at the finish line to take third. Rizk was runner-up in 4:59.95, while Vogel was third in 5:00.28.
“Meghan wanted to hold off and not get out fast, but instead the race went out slow,” said Ann Vogel. “The second lap was really slow. Then it turned into a foot race for second.
“The Markovich girl is running really well and has been one of the best runners in the state for the past few years. They could line that race up again and the outcome could be totally different.”
While Vogel’s heart was heavy, she still realized her finish was a highly respectable one after battling illness and the elite competition the state meet brings.
“I can’t say I gave up after I had mono,” said Meghan Vogel. “I fought through it. I didn’t place where I wanted to, but to be third and have mono is a finish I’ll take I guess.
“God gave me mono for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is yet, though. I feel like at this time last year I did so much better. I can still feel the fatigue from the mono and I do what I can to prevent it. It comes and it goes and it hit me on the worst day it could have.”
Vogel was still there for her teammates even after the crushing emotion of not capturing another state title. WL-Salem’s 400 relay team raced immediately after the 1,600 and placed third.
A visibly devastated Vogel, who had to be carried off the track after the race, put her emotions aside. She went over to her teammates just minutes after the 1,600 and greeted them with a big smile and congratulated them on their finish.
“They were hoping both of them could be state champions,” said Ann Vogel. “Meghan knows that feeling of being on the podium. It’s a great feeling and she was excited those four girls had the chance to experience that.”
“I just thought that was huge for them,” said Meghan Vogel. “They keep getting better and better. It was an up and down day for me, but I had to congratulate them and let them know how great they did.”
Vogel also competed in the 800 Saturday and finished 11th in 2:20.00.
“It was pretty tough to do both,” said Vogel. “It was tougher than I expected. There just isn’t a lot of time in between the races. I did my best, I didn’t do as well as I wanted, but it is what it is now.”
After the 800 concluded, Vogel realized she had run her last race in the orange and black for WL-Salem and a prep career that spanned six state meet appearances (between track and cross country), a state championship and a mile-long list of accolades and awards. What now awaits is a running career at Penn State.
“It’s been a blessing to know the teammates I have had over the years,” said Vogel. “They are wonderful people and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. They taught me to be a better runner. I have to thank them and my family. I am so glad to have my mom as my coach. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. She has been there beside me through it all.”