Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
May 23, 2018
Survive and advance was the name of the game, and the Solon and Kenston girls track and field teams did plenty of it during the Division I district meet last Wednesday and Friday at Fitch High School in Austintown.
Fueled by non-other-than junior Olivia Howell’s triumphant distance double, not to mention a victory in the four-by-800-meter relay and a one-two finish in the 100 hurdles, the Lady Comets scored 109 1/2 points, besting runner-up Fitch, 97 3/4 points, and the rest of the 14-team field to capture their eighth straight district banner.
The Kenston girls, motored by freshman thrower Cameryn Walters’ individual triumph, as well as freshman Ellie Pleune’s distance double and a trio of region-bound relays, scored 81 points to finish third. Overall, nine Lady Bombers advanced to this week’s region competition at the same venue.
Solon’s Howell won her third straight district title in the 1,600 run, clocking a 5:01.62 to easily best Fitch runner-up senior Lauren Dolak, 5:08.55, while Kenston’s Pleune punched her regional ticket with a fourth-place finish in 5:21.21.
And, after taking on the 800 run last season, Howell won the 3,200 run in a cruising-speed time of 11:23.30, while Boardman senior Casey Zaitzew took runner-up in 11:56.35, Kenston’s Pleune finished third in 11:56.51 and Solon junior Elsa Mabey punched her individual regional ticket in 12:04.74.
Also shining for the Lady Comets, Solon sophomore Ada Ngozi won the 100 hurdles in 15.16 seconds, while senior teammate Maria Leskovec finished runner-up in 15.25 seconds, besting Fitch senior Khala Cameron by 0.01 second. That Solon duo is seeded fourth and fifth entering this this week’s regional competition, where the top four finishers advance to states.
In the four-by-800 relay, Solon’s Ngozi, senior Hailey Erkkila, Mabey and Howell clocked a triumphant 9:26.78, besting runner-up Boardman, 9:40.90, and Kenston’s team of junior Kate Taylor, freshman Kate Haynes, Pleune and senior Loren Gormley, who took third in 9:50.62. At last year’s Division I Austintown Region meet, it took a 9:34.85 to advance to states.
Also advancing to regionals as individuals for Solon, Erkkila finished runner-up in the 300 hurdles in 46.64 seconds, while junior Abigail Gough took third in 47.85 seconds. Also, junior Jennifer Beverly cleared 5 feet to finish third in the high jump, and sophomore Miya Malcolm took fourth in the discus throw at 110 feet, 1 inch.
And in the four-by-400 relay, Solon’s quartet of Ngozi, Erkkila, senior Taylor Grant and Gough finished runners-up in 4:08.22, bested only by Geneva’s win in 4:07.10. Last year, that same Solon foursome clocked a 3:56.63 to finish fourth at regionals, before going on to podium at states.
Kenston thrower Walters, meanwhile, won the discus throw with a mark of 117 feet, 5 inches, besting Canfield runner-up sophomore Brianna Dunlap’s toss of 116 feet, 2 inches. In doing so, Walters became the Lady Bombers’ first district champ in that event.
Also, Walters took fifth in the shot put at 33 feet, 8 inches, missing out on a regional berth in that event by 8 inches.
Joining Walters and Pleune as individual regional qualifiers from Kenston, Taylor finished runner-up in the 800 run in 2:20.58, bested only by Fitch senior Lauren Dolak’s victory in 2:19.48, while Lady Bomber sophomore Elyse Myles took third in the 200 dash in 26.45 seconds.
In the four-by-200 relay, Kenston juniors Izzy Gabram, Megan Randall and Rhianna Patrick, anchored by Myles, finished third in 1:46.45, edging fourth-place Fitch by 0.002 second. That same quartet clocked a 1:46.07 to finish eighth at regionals last year.
And in the four-by-100 relay, Gabram, Randall, Patrick and Myles circled the track in 50.08 seconds to finish runner-up to Youngstown East, 48.66 seconds. That same Lady Bomber foursome clocked 49.81 seconds to finish sixth at regionals last year – just 0.22 second shy of a state berth.