Small school stars seek return to state

LORDSTOWN — The Lordstown and Mathews track and field teams feature a pair of athletes eyeing a trip back to Columbus for the state meet.

The Red Devils hosted a tri-meet at their new sports complex, Veterans Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, against Mathews and Windham.

“We were at the point where all our meets were away before this complex was built,” Lordstown coach Phil Colucci said. “Last year we won the (Northeastern Athletic Conference), and we want to do it again this season. This place will help future generations of Lordstown athletes.”

Lordstown sent their 4×400 team to state last year. Two juniors, Marcel Jenkins and Jermaine Jones, return from that team and hope to improve upon last season’s success.

“Jermaine takes this seriously,” Colucci said. “He runs cross country to make sure he’s in shape for track season. He’s a guy that is not afraid to run any event. You put him in, he’s going to give 110 percent. He comes to the track on his own time and gets to practice early. He wants to make sure he gets back to state.”

Jones, who won the 400 at the East Palestine meet last week, also competes in the 200 and the 4×200.

“That’s the first time I’ve actually won a meet myself,” Jones said. “I hit a 51.6, which is my PR for the year. I want to go back to state. I also want to break the school record in the 400, which is 49.8. Marcel has been by my side the whole time. We’re like the same speed. He really pushes me in races. Jared Bosley has been helping everyone on the team out mentally. He’s the leader of the team. We all look up to him.

“The new track has made a huge difference,” he added. “We don’t have to practice inside anymore. I love coach. He knows what’s best for us. He actually thinks about what he is doing when he puts us in events. He put me in the 1600 just to better my stamina. He knows I’m a 400 runner. It’s my favorite race.”

Lordstown senior Alexis Weekley, who had to sit out track last year with a torn ACL, returned and won the 400 for the girls.

Mathews sophomore Claire Miller is a standout in the shot put. She made it to state last year, as a freshman, with a throw of 36.8 feet. She has improved to 37.7 feet this year, but Miller isn’t ready to stop there.

“I’d like to get to 40 feet,” Miller said with a smile. “Making it to state last year was a great experience. I wasn’t expecting it, only being a freshman. It was very emotional. When I first found out I made it, when I placed at regionals, I cried. I hugged my dad and my coaches. I was really happy and proud. This year I want to make it back and finish on the podium.”

Miller and her teammates are helping the Mustangs build a successful track program.

“Track at Mathews hasn’t really ever been a big thing,” Mustangs coach Logan Culp said. “Since Claire has been performing well, it’s bringing more people out who are getting involved. She’s an awesome person to be around. She’s very easy to coach. She’s a yes sir, no sir, type of girl. John Smith is a great hurdler for us. Carlie Pratt is a sprinter. She’s a huge chunk of our points on invitational Saturdays.”