Two-way runners honored

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Track and field athletes pictured, front, Malina Mitchell (McDonald), Grace Steimle (Grand Valley) and Devin Moore (Badger), and, back, J.J. Henson (Jefferson), Izzy Kline (Newton Falls) and Ethan Sparks (Maplewood) were honored at the Mahoning Valley Track Officials Association Awards Banquet on Thursday.

WARREN — Devin Moore went to last weekend’s state track and field meet in the 110-meter hurdles, but he wanted more.

He hoped his 4×400-meter relay would go as well. It didn’t, finishing fifth at the Division III Massillon Perry Regional.

There was a reprieve for those four 400 runners: an at-large bid. The Ohio High School Athletic Association stated last September the top two times from the combined four regionals running events from each division, not making the top four, advance to state.

So, Moore’s team of juniors Brandon Greathouse and Scotlund Shaffer and sophomore Sam Macchione went to this year’s Division III state track and field meet in Columbus. They didn’t make finals, but the Braves team, along with a couple of local at-large qualifiers, made this year’s state meet.

It’s something Moore, who was honored at Thursday’s Mahoning Valley Track Officials Association Awards Banquet at Enzo’s, will remember for years to come.

“It was great to get them down to state with me,” Moore said. “I’d seen the time. I knew it was a fast time. I was hoping. My coaches talked to me about an at-large thing, that we snuck in. It was fun.”

Maplewood senior Ethan Sparks, who was one of the two Trumbull County seniors honored as a cross country runner, wasn’t sure about this year’s track season.

After earning All-Ohio in Division III cross country, it was a question mark about his team’s 4×800 relay and other things.

“It has meant a lot more than I ever thought a track season could mean,” said Sparks, who finished fourth in this year’s Division III boys 1,600 at state track. “It’s been confusing, a lot of ups and downs. Right now we’re on a big uphill. It’s amazing, honestly.”

McDonald senior Malina Mitchell has a similar feeling these days. Mitchell, who is heading to West Virginia University for cross country and track and field — both which she was honored for Thursday — said running was a virtual unknown after she had another stress fracture, one that put her out of most of her winter training.

Mitchell, who was an outstanding cross country runner, made her mark this spring with All-Ohio finishes in the Division II girls 1,600, helped the 4×400 team take second in a school-record time and the 4×800 team place fourth. The top eight in each event at state are named All-Ohio.

“It was an exciting ending,” she said. “It was a little rough getting started for me. They way it ended, I couldn’t have asked for better in the 4×400.”

In addition, Grand Valley’s Grace Steimle was honored for cross country, while Geneva’s Deidra Morrison and Jefferson’s J.J. Henson were the senior track standouts.

Newton Falls’ Izzy Kline, who was this year’s Division III state champion in the girls shot put, was this year’s Paul Gore Award winner, while McDonald junior Zach Gray, who made All-Ohio in the Division III boys discus and shot put, won the Bogan Reed Award.