Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
April 11, 2019
It was only fitting that the Lady Bombers carried the load in defending the combined team title during the Kenston Greg Lusk Coed Relays on Friday at their home track in Bainbridge Township.
The Kenston girls scored 93 points, and the boys scored 52 points, combining for 145 points, to edge out runner-up Green, 142 points, third-place Woodridge, 129 points, and the rest of the seven-team field. Orange finished runner-up in the boys standings.
Lusk, who spent the better part of three decades coaching the Lady Bombers, died at age 68 on Feb. 6, 2019, after a long battle with an illness. He also taught for 30-plus years in the district, before retiring in 2007.
“He absolutely was missed,” Kenston 12th-year head coach Chris Ickes said. “Lusk always tried to make it out to that meet, no matter what his health was, and for him not to be there was a noticeable absence. We did our best to honor him and make sure all our fans knew how important he was.
“And it was really cool to see that his tradition lives on. Everyone in that stadium had a pretty good understanding of who he was. Our high school athletes all seemed to have a story about him. So, it was really cool to see that he had tons of relevance to our athletes still.”
Taking over the girls track and cross-country programs in 1979, Lusk coached all-Ohioans Jenny Conway (1987), Stephanie Welter (1987), Allison Mulcahy (1992), Vonnie Downing (1996), Jessica Bigelow (2004) and Taryn Surtees (2004).
The Lady Bomber harriers advanced to states as a team in 1987, 1990 and 2004, finishing seventh, 12th and sixth, respectively. Individually, then-sophomore Surtees and then-senior Bigelow finished 11th and 12th at the 2004 big dance.
While Lusk had success coaching, his jokes, his stories and his personality rooted a legacy that will live on with the relay meet in his name.
“Lusk was a character, there’s no doubt about it,” Ickes said. “He had a great sense of humor. He also was a great communicator. He was very social. So, he was always out there talking to opposing coaches, encouraging opposing athletes and just really always trying to make people laugh. He had a trademark laugh himself that you could hear from a mile away, and he was always trying to make sure that people were laughing right there alongside with him.”
Along with his mannerisms, Lusk was known for his “card of knowledge,” Ickes said.
“For decades he’d bring it out to the girls, when he was coaching the girls team, and it would be this big notecard, and it would say, ‘This is the card of knowledge,’ and here are the three, four, five tips, whatever it is they were supposed to focus on for the day,” Ickes said. “And he’d always have something in there that would have a little bit of brevity to crack a smile.”
The Kenston Coed Relays has records dating back to the 1990s, but the event was officially dedicated and named after Lusk in 2013.
On Friday, the Lady Bombers locked up victories in five track relays and one field relay to defeat Green by 10 points in the girls standings, and that was despite not having junior standout sprinter Elyse Myles available.
In the four-by-100-meter relay, seniors Megan Randall, Rhianna Patrick and Izzy Gabram and sophomore Nyla Morrison circled the track in a triumphant 51.78 seconds, besting Aurora by 0.43 second.
Those three seniors and sophomore Micayla Paglia finished runner-up in the four-by-200 relay in 1:50.58, getting edged by 0.10 second against Mayfield. Paglia had a 3 1/2-second personal-best split in that race, Ickes said.
And in the 800 sprint medley, Randall, Patrick, Gabram and senior Brianna Yurkovich won gold in 1:55.96, defeating Woodridge by 4.87 seconds.
“Right across the board, they didn’t miss a beat,” Ickes said of his sprinters. “I mean, obviously, Elyse (Myles) is one of the best talents in Northeast Ohio, so you know you’d be a lot better with someone of her caliber. So, it was great to see our other girls step up.”
In the four-by-400 relay, Kenston freshman Jocelyn Van Skyhock, sophomore Kate Haynes, sophomore Maria Vincenti and senior Kate Taylor took gold in 4:13.15, besting Green by 0.82 second.
In the four-by-800 relay, Haynes, sophomore Amelia Witmer-Rich, Yurkovich and junior Sarah Bennett clocked a triumphant 10:32.12, besting Green by 6.37 seconds.
And in the four-by-1,600 relay, Van Skyhock, sophomore Ellie Pleune, freshman Katy Klotz and Taylor took runner-up in 22:55.48, coming just 7.29 seconds behind Green in the 4-mile race.
“The four-by-1,600 is probably my favorite event in track and field,” Ickes said. “It really does show the depth of your distance team, because it’s tough to get four runners on the same page on the same day when they’re often running solo for four laps.
“We lost a little bit of contact in the middle of the race. Kate Taylor still tried to track the girl from Green down. I think, if she would have had another 200 meters, Kate would have found a way to make it happen. We’ve been spoiled watching her close races.”
But in the distance medley, Skyhock, Morrison, Taylor and Pleune clocked a 13:21.11 to win going away, beating Woodridge by 18.69 seconds.
And in the long jump relay, Kenston senior Victoria Hammerle marked 16 feet, 1 1/4 inches, while Morrison marked 15 feet-even to put together a winning effort. Hammerle’s jump was tied for eighth in her program’s record book, despite battling through residual shin splints.
Sophomore thrower Cameryn Walters, meanwhile, tossed the disc 112 feet, 11 inches, which is sixth all-time in the Lady Bombers’ record book, to tie Willoughby South senior Christina Znidarsic for the best individual mark of the meet. And Walters’ effort came despite a torn pectoral muscle that needs surgery following this season.
The Orange girls, meanwhile, won the four-by-100 shuttle hurdles with an all-junior team of Jesseca Hudson-Turpin, Kennedy Vickers, Noelle Laisure and Leah Laisure clocking a 1:05.85 to best Mayfield by 3.41 seconds.
Also, Hudson-Turpin cleared 4 feet, 10 inches to tie Kenston senior Ariana Vaughan for the second-best high jump of the day, while Orange junior Kaydan Lawson marked 30 feet, 9 inches for the second-best individual shot-put performance.
In the boys competition, Orange cleaned up with its sprinters.
The Lions’ four-by-100 quartet of junior Tre’von Davis-Hardwick, sophomore Gregory Beard, junior Joshua Daniel and junior Marvin Davies circled the track in 44.42 seconds, besting Mayfield, 45.09 seconds, and Kenston, 45.22 seconds.
The Lions’ four-by-200 quartet of senior Armon Frey, Daniel, Davis-Hardwick and senior Eddie Harrell clocked a triumphant 1:31.85, besting Mayfield, 1:35.00, and Kenston, 1:35.57.
And Orange’s four-by-400 team of Harrell, Davis-Hardwick, junior Brian Pernell and Frey clocked a triumphant 3:28.35, besting Willoughby South by 9.06 seconds.
While the Bombers were without standout sprinters Bransen Stanley and Tyler Mintz, the quartet of juniors Jay Middleton and Alex Castro and seniors Dorion Talley and Matt Iklodi held their own in the four-by-100 and -200 relays.
In the four-by-1,600 relay, Kenston senior Jakob McConnell, junior David Rosinski, junior Casey Pleune and sophomore Dennis Princic clocked a 19:05.24 – averaging 4:46.31 miles – to finish runner-up by 1.27 seconds to Woodridge. McConnell, in particular, split a 4:28.
Kenston’s distance medley of sophomore Garrett McConnell, freshman Will Lance, Rosinski and McConnell clocked an 11:09.84, also finishing runner-up to Woodridge by 5.83 seconds.
“We knew Woodridge’s distance program is legendary,” Ickes said about the Bulldogs, who have won eight Division II state cross-country championships since 2006.
“And they had probably a 100-meter lead on Jakob (for the distance medley), and Jakob did everything possible to catch those guys,” Ickes said. “And he caught the anchor from Woodridge with 400 meters to go and they were neck-and-neck with 200 meters to go. So, when you use that much gas to catch up, you just don’t quite have the same quick. But Jakob ran a great meet for us. It’s not very often you can run a 4:28 and a 4:30 on the same day.”
In the four-by-110 shuttle hurdles, Orange’s team of Frey, senior Alex Lake, Pernell and junior Adam Drucker finished runners-up in 1:07.06.
In the discus throw, Orange junior Myles King, 122 feet, 7 inches, and sophomore Steve Daly, 119 feet, 6 inches, combined for a winning relay effort.
And in the pole vault, Orange sophomore Erik Nilsson, 11 feet, 6 inches, and junior Justin Pilloff, 11 feet, combined for a runner-up effort.
Ever wonder who runs the fastest? Throws the farthest? Jumps the highest? Well now you can find out! The Kenston’s Track and Field school records are now on display in the athletic hallway! On the boards you can see the “All Time Records” (Top 10) next to the current season records for all events. There…
Published in The Chagrin Valley Times April 11, 2019 Tony Lange Who is this old guy and why is he yelling? That was my first impression of Greg Lusk. He was actually 51 years young at the time, but my 14-year-old self didn’t know any better. I was busy winning the boys annual octonary competition…
April 5, 2019
Published in The News-Herald April 6, 2019 Chris Lillstrung It was a bit of a trek for throwers, Christina Znidarsic included, April 5 during Kenston’s Greg Lusk Relays between the shot put and discus circles. The South senior had plenty of time to contemplate that trek as well, with rare first-flight slots due to the…