Area athletes ready to compete at state track championships
CANTON – They come from different schools and compete in different events – and will even run, throw or jump at different sites for the state meet this year – but Suburbanite-area athletes who have reached the highest level for high school track and field in the state of Ohio have one important thing in common: they possess the opportunity to compete for a state title.
Athletes from Lake, Lake Center Christian and Green all earned their chance to advance at their respective regional meets last weekend. Division I and II competitors battled it out at Austintown Fitch High School, while Division III athletes competed at Perry.
Perhaps no single competitor had a better day than Lake Center Christian junior Megdine Wojton, who won the 100 meters at the Perry Division III regional meet in a time of 12 seconds, chased that win with a third-place finish in the 200 25.87 and running the third leg of a 400-meter relay that placed fourth as well as a leg on the winning 800-meter relay.
Advancing in four events puts Wojton in rare company and she will have a busy day at the Division III state meet at Westerville North High School. Relay teammates Ta Misha Twitty (sophomore), Morgan Swartzentruber (junior) and Kloe Maninga (junior) will join her in both relay events.
As a team, LCC placed sixth with 31 points.
Their neighbors just down the road at Lake had an impressive meet of their own, sending four athletes on to the state level and dominating the distance events at Austintown. Senior Nathan Moore, the Division I state cross country champion last fall, was more than 12 seconds clear of the field in winning the boys 3,200 meters.
“He’s got a lot of big-time races under his belt,” Lake coach Matt Pinion said. “He’s run at the state cross country and track and field championships, he’s run in some national races, so he’s confident in those kinds of races.”
Along with Moore, senior Connor Wertman opened some eyes – including maybe even his own – by placing second in the 1,600 with a time of 4:21.54 that set a new personal best. On the girls’ side, senior Alexandria Bauer was second in the 1,600 with a time of 4:45.83 and won the 3,200 in a time of 10:53.34, making her a rare double champ at the regional level.
Those efforts come from a distance group that made a strong mark in Austintown.
“It was amazing and the kids have been working hard all season long … to tell you the truth they expected it,” Pinion said of the distance group. “The distance group, they’re a tight-knit group with Alex, Emma Weitzel, Nathan and Connor, they get their miles in no matter what the weather is.”
Pinion noted that sophomore Jessica Rhodes advancing in the shot put with a fourth-place finish is another step forward for the young thrower in a season where she also placed first at the Stark County championships.
In Division II, Manchester’s Josiah Cox advanced to the state meet with a fourth-place finish in the shot put thanks to a throw of 51’7”. Green is sending a pair of seniors down as Olivia Gang finished second behind Bauer in the 3,200 with a time of 11:00.28 and fellow senior Connor McClure – who set a state record earlier this season – earned his spot at the state meet with a leap of 14’ in the boys pole vault.
The Lake and Green state qualifiers will compete at Hilliard Darby, while Cox will compete at Pickerington North High School.