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McDonald’s Hipple excels at Poland Invitational

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes McDonald junior Megan Hipple creates distance down the stretch in the final moments of her 1600 victory at the Poland Invitational Saturday afternoon.

POLAND — For once and what seemed like forever, the weather cooperated to the relief of track and field athletes that filled Dave Pavlansky Field Saturday afternoon on a picturesque Saturday afternoon for the 26th Annual Poland Invitational.

Over 20 schools converged for an intense Saturday afternoon of competition on the final day of April, with regionals itching closer and closer.

Setting a new personal best is challenging enough, but taking away two PRs? It was all in a long day’s work for McDonald junior Megan Hipple, who began the morning with an 11:10.02 clocking in the 3200 and a first place finish in the 1600 with a 5:15.97.

“I was just really trying to go for a PR today, and I saw (Salem’s Maggie Hopple) and I used her to go and just finish. If I didn’t have that competition, it would have been a struggle,” Hipple said “Having competition is definitely helpful, especially all the girls here, they’re so positive and everyone just encourages each other and it really pushes you to your PRs.

“For me, I’m just like I have to go with this girl, I have to go with her, and if I can get past her, I got to go, so that’s really my strategy.”

Hipple missed about a week in the season during a bout with plantar fasciitis, something the Blue Devils junior was able to work through, using biking and cross training as a way to keep active.

Saturday made for a long afternoon, running the 3200m very early in the meet, then having to wait multiple hours for the 1600m, then having to wait yet again for the 4×400.

To say it’s a grind is understating it.

“I like to listen to music and just be there with my team, all kinds of music, just anything motivating, just anything that keeps you there, and my teammates and my coach they’re very good about keeping us on track.” Hipple said.

EARLY LEADS SET TEMPO

Taking a glance at the boy’s 1600m, Canfield’s Blake Baker had plenty of daylight between him and the rest of the pack when they crossed the finish line Saturday afternoon. Winded and gassed, many of the fellow competitors come over to the Cardinals sophomore to congratulate him following his big win with tons of fist bumps and smiles all around following his new personal best.

His 4:28.57 was nearly seven seconds faster than the second place finisher, finding success for a Canfield middle distance group that’s been firing on all cylinders after leading big early.

“It helps my mentality during the race, it gives me more confidence because when I’m leading I sort of feel like I’m in control and control the race how I want it instead of letting someone else lead,” Baker said. “Leading is pretty hard though, but I was able to do pretty well today.

“Last year I got third (at the meet), but I feel it was more competitive this year. To see that I won I’m pretty happy about that. My dad always told me that I was the toughest man on the course, I don’t necessarily agree with that, but I do think I am a good mental racer, and that definitely helps during the races.”

Normally, Baker likes to workout with the team, but a vacation last week meant that he had to find time to run solo leading up to the big meet.

It was a change, but one that worked out.

“I had no one to pace me, so I had no one telling me what times to hit for the workouts, trying to do it on my own based on my effort.” Baker said. “I love our team, we made regionals last year, this is a bond like no other I’ve been a part of, we’re like family here in Canfield.”

BIG SHOES TO FILL

Salem sophomore Kaylee Carlisle never had the privilege of participating in an invitational meet, previously looking up to the likes of Lizzy Shontz and Kyla Jamison.

Beating her previous personal best in the discus by over 10 feet, winning the event with a 121-02, the Quakers thrower made a statement on her largest stage yet.

“I feel great, it’s my time to shine now, since both girls are gone, and I have to fill their shoes, follow in their footsteps,” Carlisle said.

Hitting the winning mark on one of her final throws, Carlisle launched the disc into the sector, finally relieved to be able to throw in more forgiving weather after a rough Spring.

“I could just feel like from the release, it felt really good, and I was just waiting for the mark, but I knew I PRed,” Carlisle said. “It helps me keep focused, knowing that I can’t just walk in there and show up and just throw and win it all, I have to try and stay focused, it helps me keep my adrenaline going.

“I threw a lot last summer which helped, but I had a long basketball season so I’m behind other girls in reps, my coach just tells me that it’s a lack of reps that’s why I’m not throwing as far yet, but it’s starting to show, I just have to keep grinding it out.”

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