Those passing through might only remember the tiny Northwest Ohio village of McComb by the whiff of cookies they smell from its Consolidated Biscuit Company (CBC) baking factory.
McComb, which is located about 50 miles south of Toledo, has a population according to the 2010 census of fewer than 1,700.
One resident is doing her best to throw herself and her town — literally and figuratively — into the national spotlight.
Now a senior at McComb (Ohio), Jackie Leppelmeier just might be the best female athlete to come from Hancock County since "The Cookie Factory," as the CBC is known to local residents, arrived in Northwest Ohio in 1963.
According to the Dyestat TFX national rankings, Leppelmeier was first in the outdoor hammer throw throughout April. She also is 13th in the shot put and 41st in the discus nationally.
"It's a really small town, with about three stoplights, and there are about 50 kids graduating in my class," Leppelmeier said. "We've got a library and a furniture store here, and that's about it."
The success that Leppelmeier has begun to achieve over the past year is helping this Midwestern city gain a name inside track circles. After finishing sixth in the smallest of Ohio's three divisions at the state meet as a freshman in the shot put with a throw of 37 feet, 2 inches, Leppelmeier broke through in a big way last spring.
Her throw of 45-1/4 was the farthest of any throws in any division.
She added a fifth-place finish in the discus (137-5), and the 15 points she scored helped the Panthers place 11th of 73 teams that scored. When she and teammates Jena Kryling (300-meter hurdles) and Shelby Wilson (800) returned from competing at state, McComb held a parade that Leppelmeier and her state teammates were the center of last June.
"We got to ride the fire truck, and it was just really cool," Leppelmeier said. "We rode through town and they had sirens."
Leppelmeier's hammer throw of 157-3 at the University of Toledo Invitational on April 16 helped her move to No. 1 in the Dyestat rankings. Her best in the event this season came April 29 when she threw 162 to win the Wayne Invitational in Huber Heights, Ohio. Her sophomore sister, Becca Leppelmeier, was second in the hammer throw (120-7) at the meet.
Robyn McFetters from Barrington (R.I.), took over at No. 1 in the national rankings when she threw 169 at the Lindy Remigino Invitational on May 7 in New Britain, Conn.
After being ranked among the top 10 nationally for much of April in the shot put, Jackie Leppelmeier was tied for 13th (46-4 1/2) after winning the Liberty-Benton Invitational on May 3. Her best throw in the discus came April 15 when she threw 145-1 at the Bulldog Invitational in Columbus Grove.
According to her father Jay Leppelmeier, who serves as McComb's throws coach, hard work and maturity are helping his daughter become a national standout.
"It's just been a progression," Jay Leppelmeier said. "As you mature and your form gets better, you're able to throw better. She went to a camp at Denison (University in Granville, Ohio) that helped her, and there's just a great group of throwers in Northwest Ohio. She got introduced to the hammer throw while she was at Denison and threw it a little a few years ago, and then last summer she threw it a lot. She just needs to continue to throw."
Leppelmeier has grown to about 5-foot-8 since her freshman year but admits that she's "short as throwers go."
After participating in Ohio's postseason over the coming weeks, Leppelmeier is planning to compete in the Midwest Meet of Champions in mid-June and at the Junior Nationals in Eugene, Ore., later this summer.
"I grew a lot my freshman year, which is good because I was a pretty scrawny little kid," Leppelmeier said. "As you grow more, you get more explosive. I've actually gone 48-4 this year (in the shot put) and my (personal-best) is 48-6. Right now I'm tapering off a little bit and trying to peak. Hopefully the better competition will create some really long throws."
Leppelmeier gave up softball years ago but has continued to excel in volleyball and also plays basketball for McComb.
She signed with Kent State University after also considering Cincinnati, Kentucky and Penn State.
"It's a dream come true to have her," McComb head track coach Andy Honse said. "As a coach you dream of watching one of your athletes succeed like she has. Last year, she and her dad really figured some things out, and she started throwing 44 feet indoors. Last year she tweaked her ankle (during Ohio's outdoor state postseason) but she still threw 45 feet (at the state meet)."
She wants to major in exercise physiology at Kent State and hopes to become a chiropractor so that she can work with track athletes when she's older, Leppelmeier said.
"I don't see myself fully getting away from it. I'm kind of hooked."
Jarrod Ulrey covers Central and Northern Ohio for MaxPreps.com. He has covered prep sports for ThisWeekSPORTS.com for 16 years and can be reached at email@example.com.