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Fitch continues successful run

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Fitch senior Nate Leskovac attempts to clear the bar at 6-foot-9 during the Division I high jump event on Saturday at the Mahoning County Track and Field Championships. He won the event, clearing 6-foot-6.

AUSTINTOWN — For the 11th straight season, the Austintown Fitch Falcons boys track team won the Mahoning County Championship. Senior Nate Leskovac played a large role for the Falcons, taking the crown in the high jump and helping Fitch win the 4×100 relay as the third runner.

The Fitch boys won the Division I portion of the meet, scoring 189 points, with Boardman following right behind with 180.50. South Range led Division II with 156.50 points, and Springfield followed with 139.

On the girls’ end, Boardman took the crown, scoring 189 points in Division I with West Branch, scoring 141 in second place. Springfield’s girls won the Division II competition with 130 points, outscoring South Range which had 93.

The brisk day, with temperatures mostly in the 40s and a constant cloud covering, made for tougher conditions for Leskovac, who was still able to beat teammate Brody Herman by 6 inches.

“It was nice, especially with it being in the high 40s, to come out here and hit 6-6,” Leskovac said. “The goal, really, this season is to be 6-6 consistently, and then, you know, try to pop off with some big ones when it’s nice out.”

As one of the last jumpers of the competition, Leskovac, who ended the day clearing as high as 6-foot-6, continued to try and best himself. By his final attempt, the senior was shooting to top his personal best, barely missing out on the 6-foot-9 mark.

“The meet record here was 6-8, so I was going for 6-9,” Leskovac said. “My personal best is 6-8, so I’m just seeing if I could go ahead and break that again.”

When conditions improve, Leskovac has a feeling he’ll have the extra spring he needs to clear a higher bar.

“The higher you go, you need a little bit more speed, and with it being so cold today, my pop just wasn’t there like it usually is,” Leskovac said. “I think on a nicer day I’ll have that popping off, bringing that speed, and I think I could post a pretty big number.”

In the three minutes given between attempts, the senior takes that time to reflect on what he needs to do to continue to outdo himself.

“My problem is I’ll sometimes go straight into the bar,” Leskovac said. “I really just got to think about ‘I got to go up, I got to go up, hold my arch and kick because timing is different at every height because you gotta rise up a little bit more.’ That’s the biggest mental thing is just thinking, ‘I gotta go up.’ “

With Leskovac having a solid grasp on what makes a good high jump, it allows Falcons high jump coach Kira Neef to go further into detail with him to explain things on a more complex level.

“It’s just a lot of fun to be honest,” she said. “He’s a great kid. He himself knows a lot about the high jump so he understands what I’m trying to tell him. You can go into more detail with him, which is nice, and you can see that too. I mean he jumps a lot higher right now than a lot of other kids in the county.”

The indoor season has been highly beneficial to the entire team as all six of her jumpers across the boys and girls teams have improved their heights.

“They got so good during indoor season that we could just like build up to, to these heights now, for the outdoor season,” Neef said. “I hope there’s more to come too.”

After splitting time between indoor track and basketball over the winter, once the spring season hit, Leskovac has been all in on outdoor track.

“It’s been hard,” he said. “Like I did basketball and I did a little bit of indoor, it was kind of hard to balance that. Once outdoor hit, we’re full go, we’re into it. Our goal is, obviously, as a team, we want to win the district, maybe shoot for that regional title. Individually I hope to get the district title, I hope to get the regional title, and maybe win the state title is the goal.”

Chaney finished fifth in the girls Division II section, but Rhiea Ann Gordon won both the 100 and 200-meter dashes.

Sophia Yon of Lowellville was the top distance runner at the Division II level, taking the top spot in both the 1600 and 3200-meter runs. She also claimed the top spot in the 800.

Coleson Kertesz of Springfield, one of the top throwers in the area, won the Division II shot put and discus events.

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