Last year there was one Trumbull County state champion - Badger's Jennilyn Krumpe in the Division III girls 400-meter dash.
This year, things are projected to look a lot different.
Let's start with a sophomore who has yet to be tested in the Division III 110-meter hurdles - John F. Kennedy's Chad Zallow. He didn't have the best state appearance as a freshman - finishing 11th. Honestly, most freshman would kill for that kind of year - being at state. But Zallow has been quite successful at national competitions in his young career. His hurdle and speed training are top notch with Jeff Jenkins and Robert Andrews, also his JFK coach.
Currently, Zallow has the fifth best time in the state at 14.21 seconds and could hang with most Division I elite hurdlers. He has the fastest time in Division III and is the state favorite heading into this week's district competition.
In the 300 hurdles, he has the second fastest 300-meter hurdle time behind Jack Lint of Columbus Academy in Division III. More than one second separates the two hurdlers. Both are under 39 seconds.
Zallow's older brother, Carl, a junior, is a speedster in the 200. He can keep up with the area's best Division I runners and should dominate the next few weeks.
That leaves Kennedy's 4x200 and 4x400 teams - the missing link to this Eagles puzzle. If all goes according to Hoyle, Kennedy could be vying for the Division III Springfield District and Navarre Fairless Regional championships.
Too bad Morgan Rice couldn't be added into the boys team mix. The JFK hurdler will accumulate some major points in the Division III girls 100 and 300 hurdles. She's an odds-on favorite to return to state.
Keeping with the hurdling theme, look at LaBrae's Megan Gunther and Poland's Sage Spottleson. The two could meet up in a head-to-head competition at the Division II Bedford Regional.
They could be heading to state as well. Spottleson is strong in the 100s, but Gunther is dominant in both events.
Then, there's a pair of throwers - both from McDonald - who could dominate once again this season. Blue Devils juniors Jai'Lyn Mosley and Tory Ross are probably the best Division III 1-2 punch in the state. The pair finished in the top five of last year's state Division III discus. This year, Mosley has the best Division III throw in the state at 145 feet, 4 inches. Ross is in the state's top 20 with 133-10, but she has the potential for more air under her throws.
In Division I, there's a Warren G. Harding freshman built for speed - Justice Richardson. The calm, cool, collective underclassmen could make a good showing at this year's Division I Austintown District and Regional. However, nothing is a given - especially in Division I.
As for Division II, Girard's girls team has dazzled all season - led by its 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams. Both are ranked as some of the better relays in the state. They both should get to state. Be surprised it they are not.
Then, there's Maplewood's Wyatt Hartman. The senior is in search of that elusive gold medal. He was neck-and-neck before losing to eventual state champion Cory Glines from St. Thomas Aquinas in last year's Division III state 1,600. Right now, it appears as if Glines will stick with the 1,600 and 3,200. The University of Michigan recruit has some of the state's fastest times in both events.
As for Hartman, he might be eyeing the 800. After finishing a distant fourth at the Trumbull County Meet in the 1,600, the Maplewood senior was frustrated. Hartman ran determined, taking his anger out on the run and dominated the 800 with a season-best 1:56.21.
Hartman and Versailles' Samuel Prakel have the state's best Division III times in the half mile.
As for the Rockets' 4x800 relay, which took second to Columbus Academy last year, they have Division III's second best time at 8:05.90. Who's first? You guessed it, defending state champion Columbus Academy at 8:04.69.
Besides Trumbull County, look at the Austintown Fitch boys team. They have amazingly fast 4x100 and 4x200 relays. Billy Price is one of the state's best in the shot put and discus. Then, Sam Ortz, a jack-of-all-trades for the Falcons, has clocked 14.44 in the 110 hurdles.
Also around the area:
All that said, there are plenty of possibilities for more than one gold medal to be claimed by Trumbull County and other area athletes at this year's state track and field meet.