Local student athletes deserve praise

What a weekend for Trumbull County and Mahoning Valley student athletes!

On Saturday the Champion Golden Flashes softball team claimed the Class AA state championship in Akron.

John F. Kennedy High School took its first-ever team state title at the OHSAA Division III track and field meet in Columbus.

Also claiming top place in their individual events at the state track and field meet Friday and Saturday were:

l JFK’s Chad Zallow, a senior, who won the 300-meter hurdles, the 110-meter hurdles and the 100-meter dash;

l JFK sophomore Jacob Coates, who won the state title in the 200-meter dash;

l Warren G. Harding’s Justice Richardson, who won the Division I girls state competition in the 200-meter dash;

l Maplewood’s Tristan Dahmen, who won the state Division III 3,200-meter run;

l McDonald’s Christian Smith, who took first in the Division II boys discus finals;

l Garfield’s Lauren Jones took gold in the Division II girls discus finals;

l Garfield’s Edie Svonavec, who won the girls Division II girls shot put title;

l Maplewood’s 4 x 800 relay team, which won the state Division III title. Runners were Allen Sparks, Tristan Dahmen, Derek Morrison and Jake Hall; and

l Jenna Fesemyer of Southeast won first place in all four girls wheelchair events, including shot put and the 100-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter races.

Of course all these results (and a lot more detail) could have been read on the Tribune Chronicle’s sports pages on Saturday and Sunday, but we wanted to take the opportunity to heap some extra praise on these athletes who somehow find the time and desire to practice countless hours in preparing for this incredible level of state competition. They run miles upon miles; stand in the batting cages pounding thousands of balls each season; and lift weights until their muscles give out. Then they do it all over again.

They do all this while also keeping up with their studies, social lives, many with part-time jobs and, of course, college preparations – all in the name of bringing home the gold for themselves and their school.

All these students – and the dozens of other area athletes who also completed and placed high in the statewide competitions this weekend – should be recognized and praised for their amazing feats.

Some others worth mention include Poland’s baseball team, which finished second in the Division II finals, falling 5-3 to Defiance and Western Reserve’s baseball team, which fell in the Division IV finals, 6-0 to Newark Catholic.

The Lady Golden Flashes’ win over Carroll Bloom-Carroll Bulldogs was convincing at 4-0, bringing the school its sixth state title since 1978.

Richardson gave Harding its first ever individual girls state title at 11.85 seconds in the 200-meter dash.

Garfield’s Svonavec’s title was a repeat state championship for the senior thrower.

And at 10.55 in the boys 100-meter dash, JFK’s Zallow broke the state meet record and tied the all-time state record for the event.

Congratulations to all these athletes, and to all the student athletes who put their best foot forward in whatever sport they chose during the 2014-15 school year.