‘It’s a bittersweet moment, I think’

Seneca East’s Hughes places 18th, but content with state experience

PHOTO BY REBECCA PADULA Seneca East's Emily Hughes participates in the Girls 800 Division III State Track and Field Tournament at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

COLUMBUS — Emily Hughes was the final competitor to cross the finish line in the Division III 800 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Saturday.

Hughes was where she wanted to be. It was her last prep race. She would have liked to place higher, sure.

But after the race, the senior seemed content.

“It’s nice to finish my career here, on the state track,” she said.

Hughes has been through plenty the last few years. She lost her older brother Nick — a former state-qualifying hurdler — in an accidental shooting in 2017.

She said earlier this week that she felt as though her brother was with her during each race.

She also has worked through her family’s move to Norwalk and working two jobs.

And being in the state meet, with her family and supporters cheering her on, appeared to move the senior.

“I don’t know. Warming up I was really calm about it, almost too calm,” she said. “But running on the track is a different experience that … it’s nice. I kinda got distracted.”

It was also a tough race, with exceptional competition.

The race was won by Allison Johnson of Mount Gilead, who flew through the two laps in 2:10.53. Hughes finished in 2:36.04.

“The competition here was obviously on the highest level. I think it took 2:10 to win it, which was phenomenal,” Seneca East coach Matt Schock said.

Hughes started well, going the first lap in 1:03.

“First lap, she did go for it, and was right in the thick of things,” Schock said. “As she hit the start of the second lap. She realized — I could tell — she wasn’t gonna be able to attain the top eight. I think she kind of settled in and started to run and just enjoy the moments.”

“My second lap I didn’t really have it all together,” Hughes said. “And I was just kind of thinking, when I passed the line, of all the people that are here for me, and the experiences I’ve had through track, That’s come to an end now, but I’m OK with it. It’s a bittersweet moment, I think.”

Schock said it was a good ending for Hughes.

“She was able to end her career running at Jesse Owens Stadium, which is the goal for many people,” Schock said. “She has certainly overcome many challenges, and she is a bubbly person. I look forward to watching what she does as she goes on in life.”