AUSTINTOWN - Sometimes moving on in track is not necessarily pretty, but it can be very effective nonetheless.
On Wednesday at the Division I regional meet at Austintown Fitch High School, Warren G. Harding's James Daniels earned a trip to the state track and field meet in Columbus by coming in fourth in the discus throw. He threw a 163-feet, 4-inches - not his best throw, but it was enough to get the job done.
"I felt like I could have thrown better because personally I wanted to get over 170, but it's pretty much just about qualifying," Daniels said.
Daniels threw his best throw on his first attempt of the finals and had two bad throws after that. His 163-04 put him in fourth, and after his last throw, there were still two guys left to throw.
Daniels said all he could do was cross his fingers, hope for the best and hold on. His goal next week is to throw over 180 feet, and subsequently, win state.
While the junior thrower has punched his ticket, the WGH girls are one step closer but need to improve before the finals on Friday.
The Raiders 4x200-meter relay team placed third, moving on to the finals, and again, it wasn't a pretty performance.
The quartet of Chyna Stroud, Justice Richardson, Aisha Jackson and Nautica Hill placed second in their heat and secured a spot in the finals, but they botched a few of their handoffs and messed up the placement of the tennis ball markers (that help them know their positioning) for the second exchange between Richardson and Jackson.
"I couldn't set (the markers) up to where I could see Justice coming and I couldn't explode," Jackson said. "Before Friday, we need to work on our 4x200 handoffs once again so I can get everything correct and everything can be perfect this time."
The Raiders were in fourth and fifth place at one point in the 4x200, but Hill, the anchor, knew her team had to get top two and brought it home strong.
"I was just telling myself to go," Hill said.
After the slow starts in the 4x200, the girls bounced back in the 4x100 and 4x400 and placed first and third, respectively.
Individually, Harding had a number of athletes survive the prelims and lived to run another race this Friday.
Jackson kicked off the meet on a good note for Harding with another strong showing in the 100 hurdles. She sat in fifth place at the start of the race, but said she was not going to take that.
"Fifth place is not me," Jackson said. "Running with someone fast beside me is always good cause I know if I'm ahead of them, I'm ahead of the game."
Jackson ran with Mentor's Aysha Muhammad and used her to push into first place by the end. Later in the meet, Jackson qualified in the 300-meter hurdles with a fifth-place finish and helped the girls 4x100 and 4x400 teams advance.
"Toward the end of the run, it was a bit of a struggle, but I pulled through," Jackson said. "Today was not my day, I didn't quite run what I wanted to, but I'm happy that I moved on. On Friday everything will be a lot better, my start (and) the handoffs."
Richardson was not her usual self either in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. She qualified in both and still did well, but had shaky starts in both races.
"My reaction was off, when the gun went off I didn't react well to it, so that's definitely something I need to work on," Richardson said.
On the boys side, Harding will send three runners to the finals. Senior Marcus Boomer will move in the 400 with a seventh-place finish and Jermaine Jones just made the cut in the 110-meter hurdles, placing eighth. Last season when Jones was a sophomore, he got disqualified in the district finals. Now a junior, Jones said it feels good to get this far and redeem himself from last year's effort.
"There were a lot of nerves," Jones said. "He had us in the set position for quite a long time and I almost false started again, but he shot the gun, I came right out of my blocks and luckily I still finished hard."
The Division I regional at Austintown-Fitch will conclude Friday. Field events start at 5 p.m. and running events begin at 5:30 p.m.