Bush finishes high school on state meet podium
By ROB HAMILTON
While Mount Gilead’s Mikaela Bush had reached the podium at the state cross country meet in each of her four years of competition, she had not had the same good fortune in her track career entering Saturday.
Bush had competed in four individual events at state over her first three years of high school, but didn’t place. Then, on Friday, she competed on a pair of relay teams that weren’t able to finish in the top eight.
However, she had two events left on Saturday and was able to reach the podium in both. She took eighth in the Division III 1600 in 5:09.86 and followed that up with a seventh-place finish in the 800 in 2:19.09.
In the 1600, she was in fourth place for a good portion of the race, but found herself running alone behind a trio of frontrunners and a second group of four. That group passed her on the final lap, but she was able to hold on to a spot in the top eight.
“I’m happy I made the podium finally,” she said. “I wish I could have been faster, but I’m satisfied. I got down to what I ran at districts.”
Bush noted that there was some tough competition in the race, as her time would have placed her much higher on the podium last year.
“I was just trying to kick with what I had left,” she said. “I’m just glad to hold onto eighth. Last year, if I ran what I did today, I’d have gotten third, so it depends from year to year.”
In the 800, things were a bit different, as a late surge by the Indian senior allowed her to move from eighth place to seventh down the final stretch.
“I was just trying my best in the mile and then come back with what’s left for the 800,” she said.
While both Bush and coach Dennis West, who is the head coach for cross country and an assistant on the track team, were pleased with how her high school career ended, those feelings were mixed with sadness.
“I’m really happy, but it’s bittersweet,” said Bush. “It’s a good ending, but I’m sad it’s over. I didn’t run my best times, but I’m happy making the podium — it’s a good ending.”
West had the same sentiments, as he was happy to see his athlete finish as a dual-placer in the state meet, but will miss her contributions in the future.
“This is awesome,” he said. “It’s the best way to cap it off for her, but it’s bittersweet. She has done phenomenal. I’ve never had anyone like her.”
It was a busy weekend for Bush at the state track meet. On Friday, she ran with teammates Rachel Bush, Bryanna Bolha and Raychel Gress in both the finals of the 3200-meter relay and the prelims of the 1600-meter relay.
The quartet placed 10th in the 3200 relay in 9:50.83. Then, in the 1600 relay, their time of 4:16.85 put them 15th; however, only the top nine teams reached the finals.
Being able to compete in four events in her final state meet was an exciting way for Bush to end her time with the Indians.
“I’m glad they were on separate days, so that helped me recover,” she said on Saturday. “Especially since yesterday’s weather (cool, windy and rainy) wasn’t so nice.”