Harding's Jay Provitt was named MVP of the East Palestine invitational.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
EAST PALESTINE -- Warren Harding High boys track coach Charles Penny was standing inside the Reid Stadium press box at Saturday's Ward Invitational when one of his runners, junior Jay Provitt, was announced as the running events MVP.
Suddenly, something occurred to Penny.
"I think he's on the bus!" Penny said, running out the door.
He wasn't. He was near the concession stand, drinking a large hot chocolate. A few seconds later, Provitt trotted out -- hot chocolate in hand -- to pick up his plaque.
"Hurry up, Jay!" Penny yelled. "You won the 100, get there quicker!"
Nine hours earlier, at 5:50 a.m., the Harding junior woke up, anxious to run in the first big track meet of the season. He looked out the window, looked back at his warm blankets and ... suddenly, he wasn't all that anxious to run.
"This meet is always the worst," Provitt said. "The only one that was worse than this was a [dual] meet last year against Ursuline. But this is always first and it's always bad.
"But it's all in your head. If you say you can run in it, you can."
Still, that doesn't mean it was fun. Runners shivered, jumped in place and even wrapped blankets around their legs before events. The only casualty, however, was the championship trophy, which fell over before the awards ceremony, breaking off the gold runner on top.
It was also one a place you could catch frostbite while also running on worms.
"It wasn't fun," said Provitt, who won the 100-meter dash and finished second in the 200. "I didn't even stretch before I ran the 200. I just took my warm-ups off and went."
After throwing indoors all winter, Springfield senior Nick Panezich was looking forward to competing in his first major outdoor meet.
Saturday's weather almost changed his mind.
"When I looked outside this morning, um, well, suddenly I didn't want to wake up anymore," said Panezich, who dumped chalk on his hands before throwing and eventually won field MVP honors. "I realized, 'Oh man, it's going to be hard to throw.' "
Panezich, a University of Tennessee recruit, won the shot and discus, picking up where he left off last June when he won both events at the state meet in Division III.
He's ahead of where he was at this time last year and spent the last nine months looking forward to big meets like Saturday's.
"I couldn't wait to yell and scream and get everyone pumped up," he said. "Throwing is something I love to do."
Provitt feels the same way. (About running, not throwing.) After advancing to the state meet in the 4x200 relay last year, Provitt will bring more experience -- and more confidence -- into this season.
"I really expect to run well this year," he said. "I want to do better than last year. We have a meet on Tuesday at [Warren] Kennedy and they were picked to win Trumbull County this year.
"I can't wait to run against them."
Harding, the defending Trumbull champion, got a good start to the season on Saturday, finishing third behind Federal League powers Canton GlenOak and Massillon Perry.
Beaver Local senior Dan Kinsey, an Indiana University recruit, scored the most points in the meet (29) after winning the high jump and 110 hurdles. His versatility actually cost him an MVP, since he splits his points between field and running events.