Down to the wire

CORTLAND – McDonald knew any chance of a three-peat hinged on the four members of the boys 4×400-meter relay team.

The Blue Devils trailed Howland by seven points, 79-72, heading into that pivotal last event Thursday, the final day of the Trumbull County track and field meet at Lakeview High School.

Maplewood was leading the relay most of the way. McDonald anchor Zack Fedyski took the baton and briefly pulled away from the Rockets’ final man – Allen Sparks. The two then had a back-and-forth battle all 400 meters around the track.

Both expended every ounce of energy in the final 100 meters. When they crossed the finish line, Fedyski and Sparks both leaned and then tumbled to the ground with Fedyski giving McDonald the victory and a much-needed 10 points in the team scoring.

“Every meet, it comes down to the 4×400,” Fedyski said. “We pride ourselves on running hard, even after running two or three events beforehand. I have to give it to every one of these guys on this team for working hard every day and putting it all on the track today.”

After winning, all McDonald had to do was hope Howland finished sixth or lower in the relay and the Blue Devils would claim another county title.

Howland was hovering around seventh place when George Beatty-Marsh took the baton for the final 400. Beatty-Marsh moved up into fifth place and his finish was hidden in the melee of the Maplewood-McDonald finish.

When the excitement of the McDonald win subsided, it was revealed Beatty-Marsh’s effort pushed the Tigers to their first county win since 2012 and third since the county meet has been held in Lakeview, starting in 1995. Howland won, 83-82.

“I knew I had to empty the tank,” Beatty-Marsh said. “Those last guys, they really turned it up. I was feeling myself and I caught them the last 200.

“I showed everybody in track, and everyone in the county what Howland’s about.”

Beatty-Marsh helped the Tigers win the 4×200 relay and won the open 400. He also anchored the 4×100, which took fifth.

“You need somebody to step up to win a big meet,” Howland coach Dan Libert said. He added that Beatty-Marsh had managed to avoid the sickness which ran rampant through the Tiger team.

Howland’s Vincent Mauri took fourth in the 3,200 run, while Ethan Neff was sixth to give the Tigers that seven-point cushion heading into the final event.

“Then we knew our 4×400 could get that place (fifth),” Libert said. “We knew (George) could come back if we were anywhere close.

“Three of those four kids had the flu last week, except for George.”

Maplewood’s Tristan Dahmen, who was the boys meet MVP, won the 1,600 and 3,200. Maplewood, last year’s runner-up, took third with 74 points.

“I thought I could help my team the way I did,” Dahmen said. “It really helped us in the count. We knew it was going to be close coming in.”

Libert also knew it was going to be a close meet, especially with Maplewood and McDonald not far behind.

“I was rooting for Maplewood (in the 4×400),” Libert joked. “McDonald, Maplewood kids are tough. Those kids have a lot of guts. Those kids run with heart. They expect to win. You’ve got to beat them. They don’t give it to you.

“Anytime you can compete with them and beat them, that’s a great day.”

OTHER MVPs: Champion’s Zach Page won the boys shot put on Tuesday and took fifth in the boys discus on Thursday to win the boys field events MVP title.

Girard’s Collin Harden held off LaBrae’s Keevon Harris to win the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles to take home the running events MVP crown.

“We both tried our best,” Harden said. “I’m glad he gave it his all, and I did too. It feels pretty good.”