Boardman's 4x800 relay and Bland advance to state meet

The Spartans' 4x800 relay broke the own school record.
AUSTINTOWN -- Monica Cuevas caught her breath, looked at the clipboard and said, "Nine twenty-four? Are you kidding?"
Boardman's 4x800-meter relay of Brittany Durkin, Gina Mavrikis, Sarah Grabert and Cuevas broke their school record by six seconds, running 9:24.35 to finish second behind Wadsworth in the day's only running event at Thursday's Division I regional at Fitch High.
For the second straight year, the Spartans are headed to state.
"We just got some albums with pictures of us running at state last year," Mavrikis, the only senior, said. "We were looking at them before the race. I realized that I wanted to go back so bad."
Like they do before every big meet, the Spartans prayed together.
"That might have made a difference," Cuevas said.
State experience
The Spartans have the same four runners who finished eighth at state last year.
"Hopefully, we can do better," Durkin, a sophomore, said. "We didn't really run our best time [9:36.39] last year."
Their state experience should help them, Mavrikis said.
"We know what it's about," Mavrikis said. "We know what we need to get done. And we'll also have a lot of fun.
"We're just a crazy fun group."
They've been the area's best 4x800 relay this year, cruising to last week's district title.
"I was more nervous today than I've ever been," Grabert, a sophomore, said. "It just all adrenaline. I didn't have anything left."
Prefers relays
Cuevas broke the school and district record last week in the 800 and was part of the 4x400 relay that broke their school record.
She prefers relays. Is that because they're more fun?
"Well, if you want to call running fun, then yeah," she said, smiling.
Boardman sophomore Amber Bland jumped 5 feet, 5 inches to finish second in the high jump. Bland, who won last year's state high jump title, set a school and district record last week with a jump of 5-10.
The top four in each event advanced to next weekend's state tournament at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.

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