The junior thrower also finished third in last year's state meet.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
COLUMBUS -- Minutes after the Division I discus competition at Friday's state track and field meet, Fitch High junior Sam Cassano stood on the third-place step on the podium, looking down at the ground, shaking his head.
Just then, the chants started from his fans at Jesse Owens Stadium, cheering him on with lines like, "Yeah, Sam! We love you!"
He listened for a moment, looked up and cracked a smile.
"I'm just a little disappointed," said Cassano, who also placed third in the event in Division I last year. "I didn't do as well as I wanted to, but the first two guys are great throwers. I'm happy for them."
Cassano entered the meet with the best qualifying throw (175 feet, 11 inches), but threw 168-2 on Friday. Lancaster senior Tom Stuck won with a throw of 173-10.
"I kept saying, 'Whatever is in God's will, that's what will happen,' " Cassano said. "Maybe next year will be my year."
Boardman's 4x800-meter relay of Jake and Rick Lape, Dave Haushalter and Jim Hlebak finished an impressive seventh (7 minutes, 55.46 seconds) after entering the meet with the slowest qualifying time out of 16 teams.
The top eight finishers earn a spot on the podium.
Salem's 4x800 relay placed third in Division II, although the real excitement came just ahead of them, when Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's anchor was disqualified for bumping a Field runner, moving Salem up to second. But the Irish won the appeal, bumping Salem back down.
"They deserved it, though," senior Lance Murphy said of the Irish, "and we got what we deserved."
Murphy is the only one graduating from the relay, leaving juniors Paul Shivers and Aiman Scullion and sophomore Patrick Gorby with dreams of next spring. They already have a state cross country title; they'd like to add a relay gold.
"We got third at state the year before we won it in cross country," Shivers said. "Maybe we can win this next year."
Mineral Ridge senior Levi Leigh placed eighth in the long jump in Division III in his first year competing in the event.
"It's awesome to get All-Ohio in anything," said Leigh, who will run at the University of Florida next year. "You always hope to do better, but if you're up there, that's what means something in the end."
Leigh advanced to the finals in the 110-meter hurdles with the third-best qualifying time. He won the event last year.
"The big thing is, can you do it down here?" Leigh said, when asked about his competition. " Everything you do during the season leads up to this point.
"We'll see what happens."