Area track and field seniors have another race

WARREN — The Midwest Meet of Champions is something set aside for senior track and field athletes.

Three from each state are chose to be in each event, plus the relays.

The Midwest Meet pits the best seniors again from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan against one another.

It’s not too often there are multiple athletes from one school representing Team Ohio.

For Maplewood, it happened.

Seniors Ethan Sparks and Charlotte Crouch represent the Maplewood Rockets, a school with a proud distance tradition.

“For two Division III athletes to attend this meet from the same school is a special opportunity,” Crouch said. “Not only does it speak for the dedication of the athletes and coaches, but to the support our community has given us. What makes Maplewood special is the way people come together to make things happen for the students.”

“It’s a big deal to me,” Sparks said. “It’s a big deal to my community and family. We’re all really excited. To me, that shows depth for us. Our guys team is good, but our girls team is really good too.”

Sparks, who finished fourth in the Division III 1,600 at state, wants to break the school record today. He ran 4:17.98 at state, but is seeking to go around the low 4:14s today at Ralph Young Field on the campus of Michigan State University. Wyatt Hartman broke his own 800 record at Midwest in 2013 (1:53.37).

Crouch took fifth in the Division III 800 in 2:16.68. She was scheduled to run that event at Midwest, but was moved to the 4×800 relay with three other Ohio seniors. They practiced Friday in Michigan. The event starts at 11 a.m., today and ends around 4:30 p.m.

“Mostly it will come down to us trusting one another during exchanges,” Crouch said.

McDonald senior Malina Mitchell trusts she’ll be able to get everything in the next couple of days.

She’ll race today in the girls 1,600, have orientation at West Virginia University on Monday and meet with WVU coach Sean Cleary Tuesday to go over summer training.

For now, she’ll try to improve on her fifth-place finish from state (5:06.07).

“I felt it took me a while to get going this season because of my injury,” Mitchell said. “Extending it another week might actually help. I feel like I can lower my time a little bit. I didn’t feel too burned out from last week. I feel like I could continue my training and I should be good.”

The lone state champion from Trumbull County, Newton Falls senior Izzy Kline, said throwing the shot put again today is an honor. The University of Cincinnati recruit, who threw 46 feet, 3 inches to win in Division III and topped all divisions, is looking forward to competing in East Lansing.

“It’s a big honor, especially because no many people get to do it,” she said. “So, I’m going to soak it all in, and I’m excited to meet new people.”

Crouch, a Youngstown State University recruit, said she’s not taking anything for granted.

“The opportunity to run one more time as a high school athlete is very dear to me,” she said. “Our community has recently just experienced a tragedy where one of our elementary students passed away. I am reminded how special these moments are.”