Red Dragons’ season comes to an end

The Niles Times / John Vargo Niles’ Kyle Lough runs the 100-meter final in the Division II Austintown Regional. Lough placed eighth in Saturday’s final.

AUSTINTOWN — Kyle Lough was one of the last Red Dragons standing.

The Niles senior sprinter finished eighth in Saturday’s Division II Austintown Regional track and field 100-meter final. The top four advanced to state.

He walked the Austintown Fitch football field and felt his high school career ending as he’s heading to Kenyon College, an NCAA Division III institution.

“Honestly, senior year, I had big goals for this year,” he said. “Early in the season I got hurt. After that I got sick. So, it was long season. I didn’t even break 11.5 (seconds) until Thursday.

“Last year I was going 11.3s consistent. This year I didn’t hit it until here. (Going) 11.4 in finals is OK.”

The Niles Times / John Vargo Niles’ Kevin Dubaj runs his leg of Thursday’s 4x800-meter relay final in the Division II Austintown Regional.

He finished 12th place in the 200, not advancing to finals.

Sophomore Micah Curry took 12th in the boys 1,600, while the 4×800 relay of seniors Kevin Dubaj and Michael Cline, junior Joshua Lanham and freshman Nathan Lanham took 14th place in Wednesday’s final.

In Division I, freshman Chante’ Clinkscale was 13th in the 100 in the Austintown Regional, not advancing to finals.

“This year, we learned a lot about persevering,” Lough said. “We had a rotating cast on our 4×100 and we still ended up fifth in the district for the boys. Same deal with the girls. They were rotating people in and out. It’s about us working hard.

“We don’t have a track to train on. We have to go other places to train. Either way, we know we have to persevere and perform when we get to meets like this, one way or another.”

The Niles Times / John Vargo Niles’ Micah Curry runs the 1,600-meter final in the Division II Austintown Regional.

It was a different year with no one going to Columbus.

“We’ve sent kids to state every year,” Lough said. “This is the first year I’ve been here we don’t have someone going to state.”

Coming up just short isn’t always the best thing.

“It starts to show after a while,” Lough said. “Athletes get ground down after a while, get beat up. We work through it either way. One way or another we make it work.”

He wants to see this Niles program, one of the successful entities of the athletic department, continue to develop.

The Niles Times / John Vargo Niles’ Nathan Lanham runs his leg of Thursday’s 4x800-meter relay final in the Division II Austintown Regional.

“I want to see continuance of our program,” Lough said. “I want us to see us continue to work, continue to improve. Our athletes just putting up bigger and bigger numbers. I didn’t break the school record or anything, but I’ve been the fastest kid here for four years, other than when Jimmy (Vaughn). We still put in work and I want to see kids stepping up in my footprints afterwards. I want to see kids continue to be good in the sprints. I want to see our distance program improve, our field event improve. I want us to become a powerhouse, really.

“I want Niles to be respected when we get to meets like this, not to be looked at as we got one kid in.”