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Track athletes make up for lost season

LORDSTOWN — High school track and field athletes are up and running again. After the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 season, local schools began the 2021 campaign on Saturday.

“Everybody is excited to be able to go out and compete,” Maplewood coach Dave Deeter said. “If you run track, you’re about competing. Last year, it got taken away from them with the virus. So, they’re enjoying being able to compete against other teams.”

Maplewood competed

on Tuesday at Lordstown’s Veterans Memorial Stadium and freshman Caliegh Richards began her march towards a possible appearance in the state meet.

Richards won the Division III state championship in cross country last November with a time of 18:22.3.

“I wasn’t expecting to have that much success as a freshman,” Richards said. “I knew I could be up there, and knowing I have more years to come, to improve even more, it was just a really cool experience. My teammates give me a lot of support.”

Richards set a school record in the mile with a run of 5:13 on Saturday at LaBrae. She worked on the two-mile on Tuesday.

“I’m running with my teammates today,” Richards said. “It’s just a workout, just to get the mileage in.”

Her classmate, senior John Crouch, got his mile in with the fastest time of 5:19. It was his first career victory in the event.

“It felt good to get out there and run the Maplewood boys pack up,” Crouch said. “I’m also running in the two-mile. I’m going to go out there and see what happens.”

Lordstown senior Lexi Drewek could be on her way to state after winning the shot put (31 feet) and the disc (107 feet) for the first time in her career.

“I’m so grateful that we have a season now,” Drewek said. “I’m really pushing it, my senior year, to keep on improving every meet. I made it to state in indoor track. So now I’m trying for outdoor.”

Her teammate, junior Riley Cuckovich, won the high jump (4-10) and the 100 hurdles (19.8).

“I won the high jump on Saturday, too,” Cuckovich said. “I jumped 5 feet. It was my personal record. I’m trying to go to state, and I want to beat the school record which is 5 feet, 2 inches.”

Lordstown coach Rochelle Morgan thinks highly of Cuckovich and Drewek.

“Riley is a great leader,” Morgan said. “She cares. She wants to be good. The same is true of Lexi. They’ve both stepped up to lead the team in a weird year with a lot of new faces.”

The same can be said for the Southington and Bristol teams who also competed on Tuesday.

“It’s a new group,” Bristol coach Rocco Tisone said. “We don’t have a lot of experience.”

Windham used its experience when junior Bert Jones won his 200 heat (25.2).

“I won the 100,” Jones said. ” I came in second in the high jump. It was our first meet. It felt pretty good. I’m going to keep working to get that time lower.”

Windham coach Dougle Hankins was proud of Jones and the rest of the Bombers.

“The kids are out here doing the best they can,” Hankins said. “They did really good today. I’m proud of them.”

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