Klouda, Bowker continue trek to Columbus

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Lakeview’s Ashley Bowker goes over the 300-meter hurdles. She qualified for state in the 100 and 300 hurdles.

AUSTINTOWN — Tyler Klouda has made that final stretch run before. Some kind of bell is run. A starter’s gun goes off. One more lap left.

The Garfield High School senior took off around that final 400 meters.

The last four years at the Division II regional track & field meet, Klouda has showcased his kick, the last-ditch effort to run as fast as a runner can to the finish.

Klouda remembers running from fifth to third place at the regional in his freshman year in the 1600-meter run. He closed to second his sophomore year, then won the event last year as a junior.

He’s had his setbacks as well, remembering when he fell short at state indoor and last year’s outdoor state meet.

Garfield’s Tyler Klouda celebrates after winning the 1600-meter run at Saturday's regional meet, an event he won for the second straight season

That’s why on Saturday when Klouda crossed the finish line first in the boys 1600-meter run for the second straight time at the Austintown Regional meet, he felt more vindication than anything.

“Definitely humbled in those moments,” said Klouda, who ran 4:24.53. “It’s made me work harder. I think today that’s one of the fastest 100 meters I’ve ever ran.”

Winning back-to-back regional titles was one of his goals.

He’s proud of making top eight in the 1600 and 3200 runs. Klouda finished fifth in the 3200. The top four in each regional final advance to state.

“A lot of people come into these races and the goal is to qualify,” said Klouda, who is running at Illinois State University next season. “I feel like me as a runner, my legacy is going to be remembered by my consistency. I take a lot of pride in conference, district, regional titles.”

Next weekend at state in Columbus, he’ll try to reach the top of the podium again.

“I’m going to do everything I can to stay in the top group,” Klouda said. “You never know what can happen. It’s definitely going to take a lot. I want to be satisfied after I land on the podium.”

Meanwhile, Lakeview junior Ashley Bowker has had a singular focus all week. Make it to the state meet.

She did so by placing third in both the 100 hurdles (14.66) and 300 hurdles (45.31).

“I wanted this more than anything,” Bowker said. “It’s all I’ve been thinking about this week. It’s all I’ve been training for since the very beginning of the season. It’s a real blessing. I’m so thankful God has given me this gift to be able to run and the ability to conquer, achieve and set my own goals.”

Bowker performed in humid, 80-degree weather, much more suitable for running than the early April days when it was barely above freezing with rain and snow.

Next week at state, she’ll showcase her talents — ones she’s been honing for the last couple of years.

“Anything is for myself, just to say you did this,” Bowker said. “You worked so hard. You deserve it.”