It is the middle of the week and Lane Field in Akron is bustling with activity.

Buchtel, Firestone and St. Vincent-St. Mary track and field athletes are training at a facility that all three teams call home, even though all three traveled to get there.

There is band music within earshot coming from the Miller South Visual & Performing Arts building, which is situated on a hill nearby.

On this hot Wednesday, the best of the best from the Griffins, Falcons and Irish are preparing for the state track and field championship meets at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University.

The “friendly rivals” will be in uniform Friday and Saturday in Columbus.

Buchtel is in its 11th consecutive season using Lane Field, St. V-M has used the venue on and off since the 1990s and Firestone is in its third consecutive season there.

Griffins boys coach William Graham said Buchtel and Firestone start practice around 4 p.m. when St. V-M is wrapping up its session.

“We will take lanes 1-2-3-4 and they [Firestone] will take 5-6-7-8, and then we will run practice,” Graham said. “You don’t think it will work, but it works out very well. We all know each other, so from a coaching standpoint there is that common courtesy of understanding that we are all trying to get to that one goal.”

That “one goal” is to get to Columbus and win.

“We have always gotten along well,” said Falcons coach Tim Carroll.

“The coaches know each other and the kids know each other. Everybody just shows up everyday to work hard and have fun. We share the track and stay out of each other’s way. When it comes to tournament time and this time of the year, it is always nice to see the team’s competing. Whether it is our kids or the other team’s kids, it is nice to see the athletes and coaches putting in the hard work.”

Columbus-bound

Firestone has two state qualifiers in Division I this year — senior boy Kevon Louis and sophomore girl Jordan Baith.

“This has been fun for me,” Louis said. “It’s been cool running alongside guys from Buchtel and St. V. Everybody wants to go out there and see what everybody has got.”

Louis won the Austintown Fitch regional title in the 300-meter hurdles in 38.50 seconds and was fourth in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.72. Baith won the regional discus title (140-9) and was fourth in the shot put (38-1¾).

Buchtel won two girls relays in the Austintown Division II regional — the 800 in 1:41.73 and the 1,600 in 4:00.10. Freshman Nevaeh Lewis, junior London Green, sophomore Drew Oliver and junior Dyamond Myers joined together on the 800 relay, and the 1,600 relay featured Lewis, junior Dana Beasley, Myers and freshman Da’Veonna Nash. Lewis and Myers are both entered in four events this weekend.

“This is pretty cool because we are all friends outside the track and on the track,” Green said. “We stay out of each other’s way and we cheer each other on.”

Buchtel’s boys who qualified for the Division II state meet are junior Kirkland Robins, sophomore Traequan Gavin and freshmen Julian Grimes and Robert Jones.

“This is a good environment because you get to see other athletes and other teams that you go against in the City Series, at district, at regional and at state,” Robins said. “We get to see our competition and it is a wonderful environment that I am in. I always cheer for all of these athletes. I always gotta show love. We are in the same city.”

St. V-M advanced nine girls to the Division II state meet — freshmen Emily Bame, Theresa Hagey, Olivia Mathis and Diane Metzler, sophomore Aminah Claxton, juniors Sophia Williams and Nina Zraik and seniors Sara Foster and Leah Lisle.

“We all practice on the same track and we do a good job of focusing on our practice,” Claxton said. “Whenever we are at track meets together I always cheer for them.”

The Irish have seven boys qualified for the Division II state meet — sophomores Jaylen Burton and Marquel Cook, juniors Alex Philips and Matthew Sollenberger, and seniors Sean O’Brien, Patrick White and Leonard Younger.

Absolute humility

St. V-M coach Dan Lancianese said he has been coaching at Lane Field since 1982.

“Miller South’s Lane Field as we know it now was the home of South High School track and field,” Lancianese said. “My first sprint coaching job was at Kenmore and we picked up all of the sprinters from old South when the school closed.

“I love that place. After 1982, I started building my All-Star Training Club [with Special Olympic athletes] and I also started formulating an AAU and USAT&F youth program. I started coaching youth track, I did that from 1983-1993.”

Lancianese added St. V-M girls and boys track and field coach to his workload in 1993. Lancianese said former Buchtel coaches John Scott and Bill Heideman were “great to work alongside” in the past, and he enjoys working besides the current Griffins and Falcons coaches.

“We not only share a track, we also share coaches,” Lancianese said with a laugh. “George Aronhalt is my long jump and high jump coach who is also the long jump and high jump coach for Firestone. George is a great guy. We stumbled across each other because we train at Miller South.

“Tim Carroll is a great guy. He is classy about it. ... There is absolute humility from coach Carroll and his staff at Firestone, and coach [Billy] Graham and coach [Orlando] Green and their staff at Buchtel. We stay out of each other’s way, and what is really cool we share equipment, too — be it starting blocks, hurdles, shot puts or discuses.

“You can take this all the way back to the legend John Scott. When you have got a guy like John Scott setting the stage for you everything else takes care of itself.”

Buchtel started coming to Lane Field under Scott when its original high school was being torn down and its new high school was being built. The new school opened in 2012.

“It is an honor to be able to coach with all the coaches here, and for us to be able to work together shows other schools that you can work together without their being any issue or any problem as long as you communicate,” said Griffins girls coach Orlando Green.

Firestone left its track after the 2013 season when construction was ongoing on its new high school. The Falcons trained at UA for two years before moving to Lane Field. The original Firestone has since been torn down and the new high school opened in 2016.

“Our new track and was paved and we should be able to practice on it soon,” Carroll said. “We are raising money for an all-weather surface. We are working on getting a rubberized surface on top of the asphalt track that we have now.”

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the #ABJVarsity high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.