Trumbull County’s rich track and field tradition has been prevalent this decade, just as it has been in the past.
The runners at John F. Kennedy have led the way and have the Division III girls state record holder and defending 800-meter state champion in senior Audrey Maheu.
The prolific middle distance runner has herself off to a great start by winning the 800 and 1,600 titles in the Division II-III portion of the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches indoor state championship in Akron.
If Maheu adds the 1,600 to her repertoire and wins that event at state, she might put herself in the annals of Kennedy track and field lore as well as solidify herself with a hefty scholarship from a NCAA Division I school.
Maheu is complimented by senior sprinter Jamie Prezioso, who qualified for state in the 200.
Finally, JFK’s 3,200 relay, which finished third last season, only returns two members in junior Marissa Nocera and Maheu. The last couple of seasons the Eagles have only had to replace one graduating member. This season, it’ll be a bit more difficult to trek back to Columbus.
As for the Division III boys 3,200 relay, McDonald, Maplewood and Kennedy are three of the better teams in the area. However, with the Blue Devils coming off their second-place finish at the state cross country meet, look for McDonald to be the team to beat this season. Also, Lakeview’s boys 3,200 relay in Division II should make at least regionals.
As for the other relays, I plan to let the season roll on before making any assessment on those. Once May comes, the foursomes should take shape. Look for teams at Harding, Kennedy, McDonald, Maplewood, Hubbard, Liberty and Lakeview to be players in some relays come late May.
Liberty junior Fitzgerald Toussaint and senior James Allen will lead the Leopards this year in the sprint. Toussaint was sixth in the 100 at state, while Allen took third in the 200. Both runners have great chances to sit high atop the podium come early June.
Toussaint and Allen will have to find two more running partners for the 400 relay, an event the Leopards placed second in Division II last season.
Mineral Ridge’s soft-spoken senior Nicole Honsaker made a lot of noise last season — qualifying for state in four events (100, 200, 400 and long jump). She finished sixth in the 100, eighth in the 400, third in the 200 and 12th in the long jump.
She led the Rams to not only a second-place finish at the Trumbull County championships, but the Division III district title. Look for Mineral Ridge, and especially Honsaker, to be dominant once again this season.
Lordstown junior Kayla Ellks finished third in the Division III long jump. She’s also a great 100 hurdler. There’s a good shot Ellks could be a multi-qualifier in Columbus.
Red Devil senior Ryan Pal, who finished second in the high jump at the recent indoor state meet, looks to better his seventh-place finish at last year’s state meet.
Newton Falls senior KaiCee Kubicina is seeking her thirdstraight trip to Columbus in the Division II discus. And she’ll probably, like most of the competitors, hope for drier conditions. The athletes have been plagued with rainy weather the past two seasons. Look for Kubicina to improve on last season’s fifth-place finish.
Also, McDonald thrower Emily Dolsak should make a return trip to the state meet.
Lakeview’s Kiley Mathews and Hubbard’s Katoria Carter each qualified in the Division II 400. Carter finished fourth, while Mathews was sixth. Look for these two to have great races throughout the year. Even though they are the best 400 female runners in county, it benefits each on their way to the third straight state trip and podium trip for each of these great athletes.
Also, Mathews’ teammate and senior Nicole Bevilacqua has a shot to make state in the 100 or 200 this season.
Lakeview junior Ben Moody should be a contender in the Division II 110 hurdles and won’t encounter the bad luck he did last season, finishing 11th. He’ll probably see the podium this season and probably compete in the long jump and 300 hurdles in Columbus.
However, look for Harding junior Mitchell Seawood to give Moody everything he wants and more at the Trumbull County championships in the hurdles. Seawood might be a good bet to follow D’Avery Crawford, who graduated, to state. Crawford qualified in last year’s 110 hurdles.
Also, LaBrae sophomore Allorian Horne barely missed the state finals — finishing ninth. She’ll likely be a fixture upon the podium the next couple of years in Division II.
Viking junior Anthony Walker qualified in the 300 hurdles. Look for Walker to make a return to trip to Columbus.
One newcomer who should be recognized is Maplewood freshman Jordan Moxley. She finished second behind Struthers’ Ashley Galbraith, who recently signed a national letter-of-intent with The Ohio State University, at the state indoor meet. Lordstown senior Hollie Bailey was third in Akron. Bailey and Moxley should be great representatives for not only the Northeastern Athletic Conference, but Trumbull County this season. Both Moxley and Bailey have great potential to make it to state.
Finally, Kennedy’s boys, who won their second 800 relay state championship last season in Division III, returns three of their four members in senior Patrick Murphy, senior Jared Province and junior Michael Fronk.
Province lost a runoff last year at regionals in the Division III 200. He should not only make it to state in the 200, but the 100 as well.
Also, JFK junior Mike Perisa and McDonald senior Thomas Holland each qualified in the 800. Both middle distance runners should find their way back to Columbus. Both made the podium last season with Holland taking fourth and Perisa placing eighth.
These two might have some great races as the season goes along. However, it will be hard to top the friendly rivalry between McDonald’s Kevin Stonestreet and Maplewood’s Jon Palmer. The two leapfrogged each other, as far as victories are concerned, en route to the Division III state final where Stonestreet and Palmer ran one of the best races in state track and field history. Stonestreet eventually pulled ahead for the state title.
It is yet to be seen if Holland and Perisa can have that kind of rivalry, but it will be fun to see them compete this season.
Also look for McDonald junior Lance Ronghi and Maplewood sophomore Eric Rupe in the mile.
As for the JFK relays, the Eagles lost a major player in Dan Hull, who was a great 400 runner and anchor.
Somehow, the Eagles find their way to Columbus — mostly in mass. This year should be no different.
I’m sure there’s plenty of worthy names I left out, but those athletes will surface once the season gets into full swing. Right now, enjoy the warm-up events leading up to mid May’s postseason action.