JFK sprinters look to improve for regionals
McDonald’s Henry sets shot put record and sweeps throwing events with discus title
NEW MIDDLETOWN — Having swept both the 4×100 and 4×200 relay events in the Division III district prelims on Wednesday, the Warren JFK boys sprinters had their sights set on a sweep in the finals.
They successfully secured the first, winning the 4×200 relay finals to qualify for regionals, but came up short to win the 4×100 relay by mere hundredths of a second.
Valley Christian took first, winning by four hundredths of a second. Despite still qualifying for regionals in the event as runners up, the Eagles were still disappointed to not finish in first.
“It’s good that we’re going to regionals, but we didn’t do our best, so we’re hoping next week, we show out and come in first,” said senior Antwan Brown.
Sophomore Antonio Smith, who ran the first leg, said mistimed handoffs of the batons cost them valuable seconds that they weren’t able to make up.
Brown was the Eagles’ anchor for both relay events and gave it his all to try to close down Valley Christian’s anchor Marquez Gibbs from behind, but just couldn’t quite get there.
“I had tunnel vision,” Brown said. “I was just trying to get it and trying to get it, just push myself more and more.”
Primarily a football standout for the Eagles, in his first year running track, Brown also qualified for regionals in the 100 and 200 dash after finishing fourth in both finals.
“It feels great in my first year to make it this far,” Brown said.
HENRY SETS RECORD, COMPLETES DOUBLE
Last year, McDonald’s Ryan Henry missed out on setting the district meet record in the shot put by the slimmest of margins. So this year, he made sure to do what he needed to do to break it.
On his first official throw of the afternoon Friday, Henry left no room for doubt, breaking the meet record by more than two feet and going on to finish first at the meet with a distance of 62-05.50.
“It feels really good because last year I was literally a quarter-inch from beating it,” Henry said. “It felt good to be back here this year and have nice weather, especially after losing sophomore year (to COVID).”
Henry would also take first in the discus throw, besting McDonald teammate Dante Mediati by about four feet. Both qualified for regionals in both the shot put and discus.
A year ago, Henry won the Division III state title in the discus, while finishing as the runner up in the shot put. He’s hoping to get back to states to again challenge for state titles, but one step at a time with regionals first to look forward to next week.
“Right now, we’re just thinking about regionals,” Henry said. “Once we get there, we have to move on from there and get top four. Our region’s very tight this year and it’s going to be a really big meet, so one step at a time.”
HIPPLE, YON GO HEAD-TO-HEAD
McDonald’s Megan Hipple and Lowellville’s Sophia Yon have been two of the better distance track runners in the Mahoning Valley all season.
At Friday’s Division III district meet, the duo went head-to-head yet again.
Yon took first in the 1600 with a time of 5:06.54, beating out Hipple in second by about 10 seconds. However, Hipple then got the best of Yon in the 3200, winning with a time of 11:33.08 to beat out the runner-up Lowellville sophomore by about 28 seconds.
Yon also won the 800 with a time of 2:23.85.
By finishing in the top four of those events, both qualified for the Division III regional meet at Massillon Perry, with the prelims on May 25 and the regional finals on May 27.
THE STORY CONTINUES
The legend of Beau Brungard will live on forever in the annals of Springfield athletics.
Brungard has broken records and set marks in football, basketball and track during his decorated four-year career as a Tiger, and on Friday, he continued to add a few more items to the list before he can finally close the book on his storied high school career.
At the Division III district track meet, he took first in the 110 hurdles (14.91 seconds), the 300 hurdles (40.62) and the 200 dash (22.68). He was also the anchor on the 4×200 relay team that finished third.
By finishing in the top-four, Brungard qualified for the Division III regional meet at Massillon Perry next week in all four events.
“Coming in, there’s a lot of good runners and a lot of good competition,” Brungard said. “I have to give all glory to God for this whole season, keeping me healthy and keeping me in good shape and allowing me to play the sport I love so much. It’s just a really good feeling to secure that first-place spot.”
The hurdles are a multifaceted test of Brungard’s athleticism — it requires speed, balance and coordination, along with timing and jumping/leaping ability.
“Anyone can run in a straight line, but to have to jump over something and land and take more steps and do it again, it’s something that’s challenging and I like that challenge,” Brungard said. “I like the way it pushes me and every day there’s something to work on.”
As a three-sport athlete, participating in one per season, it has allowed him to keep in competitive shape year round, as each sport helps him prepare for the other respective sports.
“Every single one, once you’re in that sport, you have to put all your focus into it,” Brungard said. “There’s no real offseason for any one sport, so when you go one sport at a time, it keeps you laser-focused on that one sport and you have to give it your all so you can match the competition. It definitely helps a lot and helps keep me going and helps me keep my mind on the things I love to do.”
RAPP SPRINTS ATOP PODIUM
Columbiana’s Julia Rapp was nervous leading up to her first race of the day, but the moment the gun sounded, those nerves were overtaken by adrenaline as she sprinted towards the finish line.
Rapp claimed the top prize in three of the major sprinting events, winning the 100 and the 200 individually, while also being a part of the Clippers’ first-place 4×100 relay team.
“It feels really good going (to regionals) for the second time because I went last year in both the 100 and the 4×100,” Rapp said. “So I’m just staying focused.”
Both the Clippers team and runners-up Liberty set the district meet record in the 4×100 relay, with Liberty finishing with a time of 50.52 and Columbiana with a 50.16.
NOTES: United’s Kaleb Nastari set the OHSAA Division III state record in the 800m, with a time of 1:51.48…McDonald boys and girls each claimed the team district titles with 115 and 85 points, respectively, while the Springfield boys and girls both finished as district runners up with 67.50 and 81 points, respectively.