Fitch makes adjustments, moves on at New Balance

Austintown Fitch track and field coach Seth Steiner was wondering what he’d do about Darrin Hall’s situation.

The Falcons senior sprinter was part of the Division I boys state qualifying 4×100-, 4×200- and 4×400-meter relays with Joe Harrington, Nathan Bowlen and Gary Gibson.

The four made their way to this weekend’s New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.

The quandary was with Hall taking his ACT this weekend.

“I was kind of nervous we weren’t going to get him here,” Steiner said. “We were pulling strings to get him down there. Why don’t we take it down there?”

Hall did and emerged from the test unlike most test takers, quite unscathed. You see, Hall is an honor student at Fitch – one of the top students in his senior class.

Hall took the test Saturday morning, which meant the Fitch crew, called Falcon Elite this weekend, would have to make alternate plans in the championship 4×200, which was at the same time as the ACT test.

Enter Sam Ortz, who will compete for Youngstown State next season. He finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles (14.76) on Friday.

He also took Hall’s place during Friday’s 1,000 Sprint Medley Swedish Relay Championship, where legs of 100, 200, 300 and 400 were split between the four teammates. The Falcon Elite team took third (1:56.07).

Hall then came back and ran the 4×100 with Bowlen, Harrington and Gibson on Saturday afternoon. They are the third fastest team heading into today’s finals with 41.827. Western Branch (Va.)’s 41.826 has the second fastest, while Mallard Creek (N.C.) is the quickest with 41.43.

It was a better preliminary race than Steiner was used to seeing.

“These guys ran a great race today,” Steiner said. “I was kind of worried because of the way they ran in the semifinals at districts, regionals and state.”

John F. Kennedy’s Chad Zallow came off winning this year’s Division III Ohio 110-meter hurdles state title in 13.93 – heading into Greensboro.

He led about the first 30 to 40 meters of Saturday’s championship final against some of the nation’s best hurdlers. Then, there was a hiccup in the race and he finished in eighth.

“I came out with a good start and about midway through I hit a hurdle with my trail leg pretty hard and I lost my balance,” Zallow said. “But, I’m happy to finish the race and still run a decent time and come out an all-American.”

He’s in today’s 400-meter hurdles final. Despite Saturday’s finish, he’s happy he’s at the New Balance Nationals.

“It’s an honor to run against the best,” Zallow said. “If you want to be the best, you have to run against the best, and these kids are the best.”

Today, Fitch’s Gabby Figueroa, who will throw at LSU this coming year, is in the women’s hammer throw final. She threw the discus and shot put this spring, but didn’t have the same success she had with the hammer and the weight throw during indoors.

“I think Gabby is really looking forward to (today),”?Steiner said. “I know she was a little frustrated how things went during the outdoor season.

“Her and T.J. Koninowski (Fitch’s boys and throwing coach) were getting ready for this meet.”

GOING THE DISTANCE: During Friday’s 5,000 Championship, Boardman’s Mark Hadley, who will run at Furman University next season, took eighth with 14:40.68. Hadley was the top Ohioan in the event.