Local track and field state champs get recognized by Curbstone Coaches
BEAVER TOWNSHIP — The recently completed spring sports season yielded four individual and one area scholastic relay champion.
Those individuals representing Canfield, Maplewood, McDonald, United Local and Valley Christian High Schools were honored Monday at the final Curbstone Coaches luncheon meeting of the season.
If you are Kaleb Nastari and you break the district mark in the 800 meter run, what is next on your agenda?
The United Local junior had two more goals he had yet to achieve so he went out and set new standards at regionals, eventually setting the new mark at state and doing so at the latter in a time of 1:49.56.
It was his second state championship.
“After setting new marks at district and regionals, my goal was to also set the new state record,” Nastari told the group assembled at Avion Banquet Center. “My mindset going into state was to give it all I had, come out fast and set the pace, which I was able to do. I felt great the day of the race so the immediate goal next year is to repeat and do the same thing.”
Maplewood High sophomore Caleigh Richards won the Division III, 1600 meter run in a 4:57.41 clocking, her fourth individual state title – she also won the cross country 5K state championship the past two years and the 3200 meter run as a freshman – finishing fourth this year in the 3200 meter run.
She is coached by her father, Mike, who is currently in his 29th season as a head or assistant coach while enjoying his third season at the helm of Rockets’ track program.
“I really enjoy running for my father, knowing how special it is that he is there to help me and share in my success,” she said. “He has been coaching a long time and has quite a bit of knowledge that he is able to impart on our team. I cannot ask for a better coach.”
Ironically, Richards’ daughter is his first individual state champion.
“Coaching your daughter is a great feeling but I do feel the pressure of being both coach and dad,” Richards added. “It is both an honor and privilege to be able to coach her.”
Canfield senior Nick Plant, who is headed to Virginia Tech on a track scholarship, finished his scholastic career by winning his second state crown, capturing the 800 meter run in a meet and state record time of 1:48.65.
“My goal was to set the record and the conditions that day at state were perfect,” stated Plant, who is also an indoor national champion in the 800. “I wanted to start fast, set the pace and was able to do that the entire race.”
Plant’s head coach, Nick Wagner, calls him an unbelievable role model.
“It is bigger than just track and cross country for Nick,” Wagner noted. “He is very humble and a mentor to the younger kids. It was raining at district, I was putting up our tent and asked for help. As you might guess, the first to arrive and lend a hand was Nick.”
Earning Valley Christian’s second consecutive state championship – it marked their third overall – was the 4×100 relay team of RaQuan Bell, Phillip Spradley, Kwane Austin and Marquez Gibbs.
“I was just hoping I wouldn’t get caught by any other anchor,” stated Gibbs, who will be a junior at VCHS this fall.
Austin and Bell are seniors while Spradley, a junior, was unable to attend the luncheon.
“Back to back state championships are very special because it has never been done before by our school,” added Austin, who is set to attend Tiffin University in the fall and major in music.
“We worked hard, both in the offseason and during the season,” stated Bell.
McDonald junior Megan Hipple became the 71st state champion in the history of the Blue Devils’ track and field program, capturing her first crown with a time of 10:55.09 in the 3200 meter run, more than two full seconds better than her nearest finisher.
She was fifth in the 3200 (11:17) as a sophomore a year ago.
“Finishing fifth last year was all the motivation I needed for this year,” noted Hipple. “I had to decide whether to run the mile or 3200 so it all worked out. I have never won anything this big before so it was quite an experience.”
The organization will take their summer break, resuming meetings on September 12 with the speaker announced in late August.