PLAIN TWP.  The herd tends to thin out as the high school track postseason wears on.

The number of athletes from each school dips lower and lower with each successive round, and for most teams, only a handful of competitors even make it out of the district meet.

For the GlenOak boys and girls track teams, the trip to the Austintown Division I regional meet, which begins Wednesday and concludes Friday, will be less of a van trip with a few athletes and a coach or two and more of a full-bus trek to chase a possible regional title.

After finishing first (boys) and fifth (girls), respectively, at last weekend’s North Canton district meet, the Golden Eagles will be well-represented at the regional level.

“We performed really well and had a really good meet as a team … the kids are really starting to perform well as a team,” head coach Scott Ferrell said. “We’re going to be in 23 events at the regional meet between the boys and girls combined.”

With 132.5 points, the boys team easily outpaced the field, propelled by an impressive all-around performance by J.T. Hampton, who won the long jump (21-10.25) and the high jump (6-7) to go with a third-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles and running a leg on the 800-meter relay team that qualified for regionals. Teammate Pierlaus Burton won the 300 hurdles as the only athlete in the field to break 40 seconds (39.28).

In the high jump, teammate Daiquan Scott tied for third to advance as well, giving the Eagles two competitors in the event for the regional meet.

The distance events were also good to GlenOak, as senior Alex Knupp won the individual 800 (1:57.01) and ran the final leg of the 3,200 relay that ranked second behind Louisville. It was a clean sweep for GlenOak in the 800, as junior Grace Werren shaved 11 seconds off her preliminary time and won the event with a run of 2:20.63. Werren's big day also included a leg of the 1,600 relay for its third-place result.

With Werren and her sister, Hannah, helping the team place in multiple events, the girls team scored 74 points to garner fifth place and send its own solid group on to the regional level.

Having so many athletes from both teams traveling to the regional meet for each of the two days of competition is extremely beneficial, according to Ferrell.

“I think it’s a huge advantage because now it’s like we’re going to any other meet,” Ferrell said. “With that many kids, it’s not just a few going, and it’s actually like every meet they’ve gone to all year long.”

The North Canton meet has typically been a good starting point to the postseason for GlenOak in recent years because its field consists largely of Federal League rivals, along with Massillon and Louisville, making it like the Federal League championship meet “on steroids,” Ferrell noted with a laugh.

The league schedule itself also benefits competitors, the veteran coach explained, because during the season, teams typically have meets on Tuesday and again on Friday or Saturday, similar to what they face in the postseason.

The goal for the regional meet are to first advance as many athletes as possible to the state meet and secondarily, to compete for the regional championship in the process, according to Ferrell. With a large contingent going to Austintown, there is also a reservoir of experience and knowledge among the athletes and for the first-time regional participants among the group, that can be a big help.

“It’s really nice to have that experience and for kids going there for first time who have questions, a lot of times even questions I can’t answer from a competitor’s point of view, and the kids who have that experience can settle those minds down a bit,” Ferrell said.

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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