The Suburbanite
  • A league title and "A Night in Paris" for Green girls track

  • The Green girls track team was fast on the track the Suburban League track and field championships, but the Bulldogs may have been even faster exiting the premises after claiming first place at Nordonia High School.

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  • The Green girls track team was fast on the track the Suburban League track and field championships, but the Bulldogs may have been even faster exiting the premises after claiming first place at Nordonia High School.
    After a third-place finish in the final event, the 4x400 relay, many members of the team rushed to get ready for the prom, which took place just over five hours later at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron. The theme for the dance was "A Night in Paris," but getting there first meant a day in Macedonia for the Bulldogs.
    Although they didn't have much time to savor their win, the Bulldogs did appreciate the significance of the accomplishment for a program that had won the last two league championships.
    "At the end of the meet and the relay when we knew we won, me and Erika (Rector) just looked at each other and we were like, 'What? Did this actually jut happen?'" junior sprinter Emily Hooker recalled.
    Although they didn't capture the overall league crown this year, winning the postseason portion of the title still carries meaning for a team that suffered heavy losses due to graduation after last season.
    "It was very surprising. We had struggled during the season because we don't have a whole lot of depth," first-year head coach Maedene Pfouts said.
    Winning the league meet was a virtual perfect storm of circumstances for the Bulldogs, Pfouts explained, because the lack of depth meant all of the team's key contributors needed to be healthy and performing up to their usual standards, along with contributions from unexpected sources.
    Hooker was the star of the meet on an individual level, finishing as the only athlete - boy or girl - to win three individual events. Her triumph in the 100 was the closest finish of the day for the red-headed junior, as she crossed the finish line in 12.67, .08 seconds ahead of Copley's Tajah Smith. The two foes dueled again in the 200 and Hooker was victorious once again in a time of 25.58.
    She nearly broke both the meet and stadium records in the 400, running a 56.65. That left her .27 seconds behind the league record, set by Brittani Peltz of Wadsworth in 2008, and just over half a second behind the stadium record.
    Running - and winning -- three events in a matter of hours on a warm spring day can be a physically taxing pursuit, but Hooker made sure to spend plenty of time hydrating and staying in the shade whenever possible.
    "I had some breaks between events, but there really wasn't at much time as I was expecting to have," she said.
    The Bulldogs had four individual champions (six event wins overall), including senior middle distance runner Erika Rector Rector in the 800 with a time of 2:15.48, a mere .14 seconds off the league record.
    Page 2 of 3 - "It was awesome," Rector said of the feeling after crossing the finish line. "My teammates and coaches expected me to win it, so I felt a little bit of pressure, I guess. I knew we had a good chance to win (the title) if I won."
    For Rector, it was her first league championship in an event and the culmination of a transition from sprint specialist to middle distance. Prior to the season, she saw how much the team had lost in middle distance events with seniors who had graduated and decided to take on the challenge of extending herself out to run the 800.
    After the meet, Rector was one of the athletes who dashed off the track and into a salon chair to have her hair done for the prom.
    "Oh yeah, straight to my hair appointment," she recalled with a laugh. "It was crazy, but I like it like that, I like being busy."
    The busy day was nothing new for Rector, who is a three-sport athlete and also works a part-time job at Dick's Sporting Goods. A championship and a fun night at the prom were about as ideal a script as any senior athlete could script for the end of their final year of high school, but the title wouldn't have been possible without the team's underclassmen, a fact not lost on Pfouts.
    "That's the first thing I told the girls is that we expected Emily to do well, we expected Erika to win her event, but it is our fourth, fifth and sixth places are what put us over the top," Pfouts said.
    Senior Morgan Estes added another title to her growing list of accolades, besting the field by nearly two feet in the pole vault. The defending state champion in Division I didn't match her school-record jump of 12-9 1/2 from the Optimist Meet in Austintown earlier in the month, but her best leap of 12-6 was more than enough for first.
    The Bulldogs' other individual champion was sophomore Elizabeth Mogus, who claimed first place in the discus after entering the finals seeded third. In the finals, her best toss of 111-1 was just enough to edge out Highland's Martha Szekely.
    With their six event wins in the books, the Bulldogs still needed a strong finish in the 4x400 relay to hold onto their lead over second-place Wadsworth.
    The Grizzlies entered the relay as the decided favorite, with a seed time five seconds faster than their closest competitors. For the Green quartet of Raina Rotondo, Rector, Natalia Just and Hooker, the mission was to finish as high as possible and add the final points to their team total.
    They were able to do more than add a few points with a third-place results that allowed them to finish ahead of the Grizzlies, 118-112. Pfouts admitted there was some relief in the victory as she coached in her first league championship meet after taking over for longtime coach Dan Gourley, who retired after last season.
    Page 3 of 3 - "My very first meet, my expectations were high and we got beat, so I thought, 'This is going to be one of those seasons,'" Pfouts added. "But we got better and better as the season progressed and we started putting the athletes together."
    Reach Andy at 330-899-2872 or andy.harris@TheSuburbanite.com
    On Twitter: @aharrisBURB

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