COLUMBUS — She was running against 15 other competitors at the OHSAA Division II state championship meet Saturday at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, but the stiffest competitors in Aziza Ayoub’s mind were the clock and time.
The Jonathan Alder standout entered the 800-meter final as the defending state champion, but as she saw it the only real competition was racing against the clock and the fact that her high school career would officially come to an end the moment she crossed the finish line.
The recent Jonathan Alder High School graduate and future OSU Buckeye finished the season and her high school career in impressive fashion by winning her second straight state championship, doing so in a personal best time of 2:09.11. The time however was just shy of the state meet record (2:08.91) and much slower than the 2:05 she was aiming for.
“In my mind, there was no way I was losing this,” Ayoub said. “After winning it last year, to come here and not win wasn’t an option.
“I really didn’t get my time goal. Running against some of the boys in practice I’ve been able to be on that pace for 650 meters or so, but when you’re running alone, it’s really difficult to keep that pace up. I tried, but you know in the end, a win is a win. I’m really happy for what I’ve been able to accomplish.”
Ayoub was well ahead of the closest competition, she won the race by a comfortable three seconds over Chagrin Falls’ Halle McClintock (2:12.09).
After winning a state championship her junior year, Ayoub realized she didn’t really get a chance to enjoy and appreciate the moment as much as she could have. So getting a chance to do it all over again, she made an effort to soak it all in.
“It didn’t really hit me and become real until the districts that this was all coming to an end,” she said. “I literally remember every single one of my postseason races since my freshman year. At regionals I didn’t PR (personal record) and people saw I wasn’t really happy even though I had won.
“I wanted to make my last high school race memorable. After winning, I found my family in the stands and I really tried to take it all in. Last year everything was new, but this year I was able to really enjoy it.”
Ayoub was also a member of the Lady Pioneers 4×800-meter relay team that qualified for the state championship. The squad finished ninth in 9:34.15 and just missed making the award’s podium Friday.
The other members of the team were Maddy Killian, Lexi Thorpe and Ashlyn McDaniel.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.