It’s more than the numbers in track

Track and field means features, stories of different athletes and how they’ve overcome struggles on and off the track.

Inherently, it’s about numbers, boring old numbers.

These athletes don’t see these statistics as cumbersome.

A scoreboard flashing those seconds, minutes, feet and inches, displaying the heart of track and field, excites those athletes. It should. It means one step closer to the ultimate goal — early June and the state track and field meet.

It starts with the district meets in Division I through III, starting May 17.

With every great show, which leads up to the June 2-3 state meet in Columbus, there has to be headliners. This area, as it does every year, has a few that could seek that coveted state gold medal — bring fame back to their respective schools.

LaBrae sophomore Dynesty Ervin made the state semifinals of the Division II 200-meter dash last year. This year, she’s one of the state’s best sprinters in Division II.

Ervin ranks top three in the 100 and 200. To add to her repertoire, she ran the 400 in 59.11 at the Trumbull County Meet. All of her times rank in the top four in Austintown Region. That equates to a state bid in all three events.

You can’t forget about arguably the best athlete in this area — Garfield’s Lauren Jones.

The University of Oklahoma recruit is the two-time defending state champion in the Division II girls discus. She’s on the cusp of breaking 160 feet, something she’s done in practice. Just think when she does it on the field.

Jones wants more. She wants the Division II state record, which has stood for 28 years. South Point’s Teresa Sherman threw 170 feet, 8 inches in 1989. Jones wants that mark. As the heat increases, so does her throws.

Speaking of throws, Jones is one of the top shot putters, but is bookended by Newton Falls Izzy Kline and Kayla Barreca.

Barreca is second behind Jones in the state in the discus, about 15 feet back. As I was told recently, one throw can change everything.

Newton Falls and Garfield heading to Columbus vying for state championships.

Yes, Jones does the high jump and long jump as well. Both of her marks put her in line for state bids. If she can improve on both, along with the throws, Jones could look at putting Garfield in line for a state team title.

Brookfield’s Xavier Bailey is used to the No. 1. He’s rarely been touched this season in the 200. Bailey’s breakaway speed, which he’ll use playing football at Ohio University, is seen on the track. He has Division IIIs top time in the state in this event, something he may hang on to for a while.

Speaking of state-level talent, the Trumbull County Track and Field Meet showcased some last week.

The final event, the 4×400 relay for Maplewood ran 3:27.76. It not only won a county title, it vaulted the Rockets to the Division IIIs top time in the state.

When Michael Shipman ran the anchor leg in lightning speed, it brought back shades of the great 2001 team that finished third in the state. Ironically, that one ran 3:27.58.

This year’s team could be quicker. Scary.

There was the boys 400. Mineral Ridge’s Jarred Miller went 50.50, while McDonald’s Hayden Sloan was 50.98. Miller is ranked second in Division III, while Sloan is fourth.

These two could jockey back and forth like McDonald’s Kevin Stonestreet and Maplewood’s John Palmer did almost a decade-and-a-half ago, toggling since county and providing one of the most exciting 800 Division III finishes I can remember.

Look for Miller and Sloan to have that same epic battle.

McDonald’s Malina Mitchell ran the second-fastest time in the state in the 3,200 prior to Trumbull County. Her 1,600 time was state-level caliber after claiming a county title.

She literally saved the best for last in the 800. She found another gear and went 2:18.97 — best 800 time in the area regardless of division. Her teammate, Bella Wolford, was right behind her with 2:20.21.

There’s two laps around the track of pure excitement, especially after McDonald boys coach Lou Domitrovich was stunned looking at his stopwatch. So was most of the crowd.

The same could be said of the gathering around the long jump pit.

Champion’s Noah Bayus came in with a jump of 20-6. He ended with a 22-7, tied for second in Division II. Bayus’ shocker isn’t the only one coming before the end of this track and field season.

Remember, it’s all about the numbers.