Better than a movie, Fairview defends its legacy
I am a sucker for the underdog. So it has been an adjustment to root for Bay High’s Kelley Moore. She is after all now, my only fellow West Life sportswriter. She gets more compliments in a week for her diary then the rest of my articles combined. It has been a learning experience that pulling for the favorite is not automatically a bad thing.
Frankly, Fairview High School is more up my alley. The school has often been seen as the red-headed stepchild of the SWC. You hear over and over, “We don’t have the numbers to compete.” That self defeating perception is something coaches and athletes struggle to overcome. You can achieve what your mind believes.
So it was a big story in 2003, when three Fairview sophomores and a freshman stunned the conference in the 4x400 relay. Always the finale of the meet, it is the marquee race. Amanda Atwell, Jessica Brady, Stacie Dorian and Christine Rehnert used that win to fuel their confidence and advanced all the way to the state meet. Last year, they not only repeated their conference title but again qualified for state.
This year was supposed to be the best of them all. But life has its own way. First, Atwell had to quit the team. She had to get a job to pay for college. Then Dorian was injured. She had pain in her hip and her junior season looked to be over. There was talk that her senior year of soccer could be in trouble, too.
Brady and Rehnhert carried on. They made strides in individual events and broke in two talented but young sophomores — Vickie Diedrichs and Katie Begany — in the 4x400 relay. They did well, but it wasn’t the same.
Just days before the meet, Dorian’s doctor told her there was no need for surgery on her hip now; that she would feel pain but she could run. All Dorian heard was “run.”
So it seemed a nice human interest story when she returned as part of the 4x200. I chatted with Dorian, Brady and Rehnert in the infield. I couldn’t believe Dorian was back, but her teammates had expected it.
“Stacie is the most competitive person I know,” Brady said. “She won’t pass up a chance to run.”
Rehnert had a good SWC conference meet. She took second in the long jump. And if it wasn’t for North Olmsted’s super junior Shannon Eccleston, she would have won the 100 and 200 meters. When Eccleston caught her in the 100, Rehnert felt a tweak in her quad. The trainer worked on it, but after the two-hour rain delay, it acted up. The trainer had left, but Rehnert ran the 200 anyway. Again, she was second, but it hurt.
“I was amazed I made it to the finish line,” Rehnert said.
With districts looming, a decision had to be made. Rehnert stepped aside for her favorite event, the 4x400. Rehnert then pushed for Dorian to take her place.
“We needed her to run,” Rehnert said.
As the teams lined up around 11 p.m. for the final race of the girls meet, Rehnert was nowhere to be seen. I couldn’t believe it when I saw Dorian line up. I thought she told me she was allowed only one race.
Eccleston took off like a rocket and gave North Olmsted an early lead on the first leg. But Brady kept Fairview close with a split of 61. Diedrichs ran her own split of 61 and caught her North Olmsted runner just as she passed the baton to Begany. The sophomore built a nice lead with her split of 61. And then it was up to Dorian.
She shot out of the gate. For a moment, I was thought “She is going to pull this off.“ But then reality took over, and by the second turn the North Olmsted runner was gaining quick. By the third turn, it appeared she would pass Dorian. But never underestimate will.
“I heard her coming,” Dorian said. “I said to myself this isn’t happening. I am not going to lose. My legs aren’t stopping until the finish line.”
And she pulled away. For the third year in a row, that little school from Fairview had won the final race of the night.
Brady grabbed Dorian at the finish and told her, “That was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.”
Dorian’s split was, you guessed it, a 61. It was more than just Dorian’s effort. You had a leader in Brady, who never lost faith. Another reason was Rehnert, who did not let selfishness or pride stop her from doing the right thing for the team. And then there were two youngsters who had all the pressure in the world on them. This race has meant a great deal to the school the last two years and they kept the legacy alive. Both struggled to find the words to express how they felt after the race,
“We had a lot to live up to,” Dietrichs finally said.
For Dorian, it was redemption of a lost season.
“Never in a million years did I believe this would happen,” Dorian said. “My heart broke when Christine could not run. It is totally different without her. But I am glad that she is just as happy as I am.”
For Rehnert, the news is good. The doctor on Saturday called it a minor quad pull. She will be fine for districts. She admitted the scene on Friday night was like a movie.
“It was the right move health-wise not to run,” Rehnert said. “I wanted to be out there, but we needed to get Stacie back. The sophomores have stepped up this year. We are proud of them. It is weird how everything happened. It all happened for a reason. But now we have three of us back. We are now ready to make another run. We will be ready on Wednesday.”
Regardless of whether they earn third trip to states or not, the legacy will be there forever. The tiny school won its final race ever against their bigger rivals. And that will never change.