GAINESVILLE — Bailee Einspahr of Crystal River made the trip to the state track and field finals last season for the first time in her career, but left Jacksonville without a medal.

That left a bad taste in her mouth and the Pirates junior made sure she wouldn’t walk away empty handed Thursday at the Class 2A FHSAA State Track and Field Championships at Percy Beard Track at the University of Florida.

Competing in the javelin, Einspahr unleashed a personal-best throw of 33.35 meters (109-feet 5-inches) on her third of four attempts to jump into seventh place.

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No one sitting behind her in the standings beat that score on the fourth set of throws, and Einspahr held onto that seventh-place medal.

“It was a big thing for me. I felt really disappointed last year, so just getting on the podium this year was the goal of mine,” she said.

During the final throws, Einspahr said she knew she was close to the medal stand, but didn’t know exactly where she stood. When the scorer read off her name in seventh place, the Pirate junior let out a sigh of relief.

“I was nervous at the end, because I wasn’t keeping track of everyone’s scores,” she said. “I knew I would be somewhere in that area, but didn’t know where for sure. So I was definitely relieved.”

Coming in with the eighth-best regional throw and a good week of practice gave Einspahr confidence she would medal.

“I did feel confident, because the last week of practice we had, everything was flowing. The juju was good. It was a good week,” she said.

Now Einspahr will set her goals even higher for what she hopes will be a third trip to the state finals next season.

“Next year, I would say top three,” she said, adding she will work on the technical areas of the event. “It’s going to be getting more whip and being more explosive with my arms and hips. Pretty much just technique.”

Another Pirate standout made her second and final appearance at the state meet.

Senior Mackenzie Richardson qualified in the pole vault for the second year in a row and finished 16th in 2A with a jump of 2.55 meters (8-feet 4 1/4-inches). She made the first height of the competition easily, but then scratched on her three attempts at 2.70, the height she made at regionals to qualify for state.

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