By Joe Scalzo
About an hour after Liberty senior Marquis Williamson cost Poland senior Chris Anderson a state berth in the 400-meter dash, Anderson got a golden opportunity for revenge.
He ran with it.
On the last leg of the 4x400 relay at Saturday’s Division II regional meet at Bedford High School, Williamson got the baton just ahead of Anderson.
“I knew he was going to be tough,” said Anderson, who finished fifth, one spot behind the state-qualifying Williamson, in the open 400. “He’s been running faster than me all year, so I knew I had to stay with him the whole time and not let him get even two or three meters in front of me, because it’d be over.
“I just stayed with him and on the home stretch, I just took it on home.”
The Bulldogs finished in 3:20.68 — three hundredths of a second ahead of the Leopards and a little more than a second behind Poland’s state championship (and school record-setting) relay from 2010.
“We’re definitely going after that,” Anderson said.
And Liberty is definitely going after Poland.
“Fatigue set in,” Williamson said of his last lap. “We’re gonna get them [Poland] at state. We know that for sure.”
Liberty’s 4x200 relay also qualified for Columbus, benefiting from a botched Cardinal Mooney handoff that dropped the second-seeded Cardinals to eighth. Mooney rebounded in the 4x100 relay, finishing second to advance to the state meet for the eighth straight year.
“We didn’t think about what happened in the 4x2,” said junior Marcus McWilson, a Nebraska football recruit. “We couldn’t change it, so we just looked forward to this [4x100] relay.”
McWilson, whose older brother Matt anchored state championship 4x100 relays in 2008 and 2009, said the Cardinals will now put their full focus on taking gold next week. Mooney finished just behind defending state champion Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary on Saturday.
“What’s the point of going if you’re not going to win?” McWilson said. “I’ve been the anchor since my freshman year and my brother was the anchor when he ran, so I’m just trying to follow in his footsteps and bring it home like he did.”
On the girls side, Lakeview senior Lauren Schattinger won the 100 and finished second in the 200 by an eyelash, setting up what could be a big final weekend in her storied career.
After Schattinger won the 60 and 200 titles at March’s indoor meet, she struggled with the outdoor transition before finally putting things together this weekend.
“I kind of had a rough season with my times this year, which was scaring me for awhile because I couldn’t get back down to where I wanted to be,” she said. “So coming out here and running what I did [12.3 seconds] in the 100 was really a confidence-booster.
“It made me really excited for what’s to come because my times continue to drop, especially from district to today.”
And, for the first time since her freshman year, she’ll have some company in Columbus. Lakeview’s 4x100 relay placed third to advance.
“I am so thrilled about my 4x1,” said Schattinger, who helped Lakeview place sixth in the 4x200 relay at the 2009 state meet. “I love those girls.
“It’s great to come into the program and leave the same way I came in. My first-ever race at state was a relay and now one of my last will be a relay.”