County meet precursor for postseason

The 20th annual Trumbull County Meet at Lakeview High School had more than its fair share of storylines this past week.

McDonald’s Christian Smith popped off a discus throw of 181 feet, 9 inches – his final attempt of finals on Thursday to win the event. The throw beat the meet record by former McDonald thrower and Kent State University athlete Matthias Tayala.

He led the best Division III throwers in the state, which finished 1-2-3 on Thursday.

Smith, Maplewood’s Steve Pop and Newton Falls’ Bucyrus Palo are in the top 20 in the state and have three of the top four throws in Division III.

The Warren G. Harding girls steamrolled through the competition to win its fourth title in the last five years.

Then, there was the amazing feat by four John F. Kennedy athletes – Chad Zallow, Carl Zallow, Zach Watt and Jacob Coates – to amass 92 points. The Eagles dominated the sprints and ended with a strong win in the 4×400-meter relay. However, it wasn’t enough to hold off McDonald, which won with 109.

Interesting enough, McDonald and JFK might be battling each other for the Division III state championship in Columbus. McDonald last won in 2011 with a pair of KSU athletes – Tayala and Miles Dunlap. The closest the Eagles have come to a state title was a runner-up finish in 1984 in then Class AA – tied with LaBrae.

Both McDonald and JFK have the talent to compete for a state title. They both proved that last week.

Now, there were a couple of unseen factors that were part of Trumbull County Meet.

One. Howland senior TK Fortson, who won the boys high jump and long jump. He popped off a 21-9.75 in the long jump – a great jump that puts him in the conversation for a possible state bid. Last year, former Howland standout and current Ohio University football player Brendan Cope finished seventh in the Division I long jump. He’ll need to get to at least 22 feet to assure himself a spot at state.

Two. Liberty’s Courteney Lukac won by a convincing 8 seconds in the girls 800. Her time of 2:19.90 puts her second in the Division II Austintown Region, behind Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Sammy Bockoven, who has the best 800 time in the state – 2:15.20.

Three. WGH’s boys could have two dominant shot putters with James Daniels and Ja’vone McCollough-Provitt. The two combined for a 1-2 finish by throwing around 54-0 each.

Four. Divisions don’t matter when it comes to the girls 100 and 300 hurdles. Ask WGH’s Aisha Jackson (Division I) and JFK’s Morgan Rice (Division III). The two are are in the top five in the state. Jackson edged Rice in both races, but rest assured if both keep dropping times, they’ll both be standing high atop their respective podiums come early June in Columbus.

You can bet after this week of league meets, Trumbull County’s best will shine during districts, regionals and state.