Caldwell standout has a ‘good finish’ at state track meet

One came up short, while another had to drop out due to a health issue.

That pretty much sums up Jenna Furr’s ninth place finish in the 3200 D3 girls final, and Cray Sistrunk’s absence in the 1600 boys field on Saturday, the last day of the OHSAA Track & Field Championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.

Sistrunk, a Belpre sophomore (actually a junior-to-be), really had no choice.

“Cray was there, but he was not allowed to run,” said Golden Eagles assistant Jim Cunningham. “He’s been diagnosed with mono.”

Of all the bad luck.

Sistrunk qualified for state with a fourth-place regional finish at Lancaster Fairfield Union. There, he covered the distance in 4 minutes, 34.08 seconds.

That, as it turned out, was his last competitive race of the spring.

Sistrunk was at state to support Belpre’s 4 by 100 relay team of Sam Petty, Matt Colvin, Matt Lopreste, and Devin Daniell, which placed 14th in Friday’s prelims in a time of 44.82.

Fortunately, Sistrunk has two more years at Belpre. Last year, as a freshman, he went to state for the first time and finished 13th in the 1600 in 4:35.35.

“I have to believe that a healthy Cray would’ve medaled this year,” said Cunningham, also Belpre’s girls head track and field coach.

That was Furr’s goal, to medal and stand on the podium after the 3200 event. It was not to be.

Furr, a Caldwell senior (graduate), gave it her best shot, though.

“She’s been to state three straight years, and it’s frustrating (not medaling),” said Caldwell track and field boss Dugan Hill.

When Furr was a sophomore, she placed 11th in the 3200 in 11:49.49. That was also the year when two of her back-of-the-pack running opponents hung onto each other as they crossed the finish line. (It received significant media attention at the time.)

Last year, Furr covered the distance in 11:43.04, good for 11th place again.

This past weekend, Furr was “ninth on paper, going into the race,” Hill said. What that meant was all she had to do was beat one runner in the race to be able to stand on the podium.

It didn’t happen.

Furr, a regional champion, continued to improve her state time in the event in 11:38.93. But even if she’d ran her PR (personal record) and school record of 11:34.81 (set in last year’s regional), she still would’ve finished in ninth place.

So close, but no trip to the podium. (If it’s any consolation, Furr is an indoor all-stater in the event.)

“She had a couple of tough laps in the middle of the race,” Hill said. “But she still finished good.”

Being her last prep race, one might have expected an emotional, teary scene at the finish. But that was not the case.

“She gave it her best, and she was fine,” Hill said. “Maybe it hadn’t hit her yet.”

Thing is, Furr’s running days are far from over. Next school semester, she will be competing at Wheeling Jesuit University.

“Jenna’s a hard worker, and I look for her to have a good college career,” Hill said.

Hill paused.

“We’re going to miss her at Caldwell,” he said.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at