AUSTINTOWN: The heat is on, both literally and figuratively, and scores of Division I track and field athletes responded by putting together solid performances Friday in the regional meet at Austintown Fitch.
With temperatures in the 80s and low 90s, the GlenOak boys won a team title with 50 points and several Akron-area athletes in each gender placed in the top four in an event to advance to next week’s state championship meet at Ohio State University.
Hudson senior Gavin Gaynor is among those bound for Columbus after a victory in the boys 1,600 meters in 4:15.29.
“I am not really a fan of the heat,” said Gaynor, the Division I state champ last year in the 1,600. “I don’t think any distance runner is a fan. This is not conducive to running fast.”
While distance runners hate the heat, sprinters love it. Nordonia senior Tony Woods won the boys 100 (10.70) and Knights junior Daniel Banks was second in the 400 (48.85). Twinsburg senior Justin Kimble was second in the 100 (10.86) and was on the second-place 400 relay (42.23) with junior Sean Silas and seniors James Eaton and Shawn Smith.
Solon (47 points), Canton McKinley (44), Nordonia (31), Cleveland Heights (28) and Mentor (27.33) rounded out the top six boys teams in a field of 44 scoring squads.
“This is an extremely talented field,” GlenOak coach Scott Ferrell said. “I have never seen such an aggressive 4x4 relay that we saw tonight. There were bumps over there twice, and we still stayed in the race physically and mentally [and took fourth].
“[Senior] Alex Nupp is going to state in three events — 4x8 relay, 800 and 4x4 relay — and we have two guys [Daiquan Johnson and J.T. Hampton] going in the high jump.”
GlenOak’s 3,200 relay was first in 7:49.82 with junior Pierlus Burton, senior Jacob Murphy, junior Gage Feola and Nupp.
The top six girls teams were Warren Harding (55 points), Brecksville (50), Twinsburg (44), Solon (43), Mentor (42) and Nordonia (34) in a field of 37 scoring squads.
Twinsburg senior Emmarie Foote won the 200 in 24.48 seconds and was on the 800 relay that placed first in 1:39.5 with senior Lauryn McKinley, freshman Nya Bussey and sophomore Rocki Jones. The same four girls were second in the 400 relay (47.89).
“I am excited to go back to state,” Foote said. “I think I have a higher chance of hopefully winning at the state meet. This is a real nice opportunity.”
Nordonia sophomore Faith Banks took second in the girls 400 in 55.41, and joined sophomore Carmen Licht, freshman Katrina Eterovich and sophomore Aja Duvall to win the 1,600 relay in 3:53.43. The Knights were also second in the 3,200 relay (9:21.04) with sophomore Lizzy Gurko, senior Jaylah Sirca, freshman Mallory Tedor and Licht.
Jackson junior Kayla Chapman persevered to win the girls 3,200 in 10:59.04.
“It was kind of a shocker,” Chapman said of the heat. “I have become so used to running in the cold and wearing a bunch of layers. Today I had a tank top on. It’s weird to pack my bag with just a t-shirt and not a bunch of other clothes.
“I am glad that summer is here because that means that cross country is here.”
Brecksville senior Jamie Rachek was first in the high jump (5-6) and second in the long jump (16-5¼). Other area girls who placed second in an individual event were Green’s Alyssa Thomas (1,600, 5:04.72), Perry’s Macee Erickson (12-8) and Brecksville’s Sarah Okeafor (shot put, 40-11½).
Elsewhere on the boys side, Massillon crossed first in the 800 relay in 1:28.15 with seniors Deionne Harper, Jeff Koch and Justice Kemp and junior Austin Jasinski.
Canton McKinley senior Shaquille Perry won the boys 200 in 21.66 and joined juniors Montrell DeVaughn, Steve Ashcraft and Jamison Strickland to win the 1,600 relay in 3:21.32. Bulldogs junior Deshawn White won the long jump in 21-5½.
Alliance junior Stone Johnson won the boys high jump (6-7) and was second in the long jump (21-5¼). GlenOak junior Daiquan Johnson was second at 6-7 in the high jump, but had more misses.
Marlington junior Lane Knoch won the 110 hurdles (14.05) and 300 hurdles (37.67).
“I felt warmed up and ready to go today,” said Knoch, a Division II state placer last year in the 110 hurdles. “I was all stretched out and I am ready to improve again next week.”
Hoover junior Matt Peare won the pole vault (16-8½) and was second in the 110 hurdles (14.23). Perry senior Lucas Kelley was second in the pole vault (15-4).
Ellet senior Dorlan Bell earned a trip to state by placing second in the 800 (1:55.16).
“I hope to compete well at state because I know the competition will be harder there than here,” Bell said. “I ran a PR today, which I am happy with.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the #ABJVarsity high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.