Lakeview holds off WGH, Howland for boys team title

CORTLAND – Around the third turn of the boys 4×100-meter relay, Harding and Howland’s teams collided in the final exchange.

The carnage was similar to a mini pile up at a NASCAR race at Lakeview High School.

Lakeview’s Ben Biehl came out of the abyss and took a commanding lead in the final 100 to win the relay.

“We saw something that looked like a mini train wreck,” Lakeview boys track and field coach Mark Swinning said. “Then, our guys had the poise to get the baton exchanged and come out of that. We knew right then we had a shot. We knew we had a lot of work to do, but we had a shot. I think that fired up some of the guys to go out and compete.”

The Bulldogs eventually went on to win their second Trumbull County Track and Field title in three years over Harding on Thursday, 87.5 to 84. Howland took third with 81 points.

Lakeview needed to hang on in the final event – the 4×400 relay. The Bulldogs were fifth and Harding placed first.

“I told the guys we had to get at least six (points, fourth place),” Swinning said. “Issac Daffron (first leg) was running fresh. He ran a really nice leg. We had Eric Harris running fourth. You always want to put your workhorse or stud in the place where he can get what he can get for you and do a good job. Then the other two guys, Lincoln Hall and Luke Brantingtham, they ran the race of their lives. It was by far the fastest the two of them have ever run in the 400 meter by 2 or 3 seconds apiece, which is phenomenal.”

Harris was second in the 1,600. A.J. Miller won boys pole vault, with Jarrett Pishotti taking second and Jordan Lowther taking second in the discus.

“We had people running their personal best times all over the place,” Swinning said. “It was a phenomenal.”

Thursday belonged to more than the Bulldogs.

John F. Kennedy sophomore Chad Zallow, who dominated the 110 and 300 hurdles and was part of a couple JFK relays, won the boys overall MVP with 28 points. Zallow, a sprinter by trade, prefers the 110s.

“I’m not a fan of it,” Zallow said after running the 300s. “I’m more a fan of the 110s. I’m stuck with it.”

Zallow said he needs to work on steps and endurance going forward. He’s hoping this MVP is the start of two more in the coming years.

“I won the meet MVP in middle school,” Zallow said. “I want to go for a three-peat.”

Meanwhile, Maplewood junior Steve Pop, who won the discus and took second in Tuesday’s shot put, took field events MVP with 18 points.

Speaking of the Rockets, senior Wyatt Hartman placed fourth in the 1,600 – an event he placed second in Division III at last year’s state meet. It angered Hartman enough that he distanced himself from the competition in the 800.

“You could say I was a little angry,” Hartman said. “I used that to my advantage. I was happy with how I performed.”

That left McDonald senior Patrick Kunkel, who was waiting for his time in the 1,600. Kunkel, who seemingly was the odd-man out in the mile at most county meets dating back to his seventh-grade season, finally overcame his past shortcomings to place first at Thursday’s county meet.

“It’s a great day for me,” Kunkel said.

Kunkel, who took second to Hartman in the 800, won running events MVP with 21.5 points.

“Taking second to Wyatt was as good as first,” Kunkel said.