HURDLES Cicero thankful for JFK support

She defended her title in the Division III 300 race.
COLUMBUS -- For the record, Warren JFK High senior Angelene Cicero would like to thank God, her family, her teammates, her friends and her coaches for helping her repeat as the Division III state champion in the 300-meter hurdles at Saturday's state meet.
As you can see, track titles don't happen by accident.
"I just want to cry," she said. "I'm so happy."
Cicero faced better competition in the event this season -- the top four girls from her regional placed in the top eight in the event on Saturday -- and she faced added pressure.
When you win it once, people expect you to win it again.
"Track is as mentally challenging as it is physically challenging," she said. "You have to battle both aspects."
Grayson is second
She also had to battle Maplewood senior Jen Grayson, who finished second after placing fourth in this event last year.
"I got my best place ever in this event, so I'm happy," Grayson said. "Why not be happy? Angelene is awesome."
Mineral Ridge junior Abbey Kiger was fifth in the event and Lowellville sophomore Rachel Mariotti placed eighth after finishing seventh in the 100 hurdles earlier in the day.
"I definitely had a lot of competition this year," Cicero said.
Cicero dropped her winning time from 44.72 last year to 43.86 this year, knowing that if she didn't improve, someone else might take her place at the top.
"You never know who's going to come out of the woodwork," she said. "The first time you win it, it's really overwhelming. You think, 'Am I really the best in the whole state of Ohio? Isn't there someone else?'
"The second time, it really sinks in a lot deeper. It's a fabulous feeling."
Grayson placed third in the 100 hurdles earlier in the day, making her a 10-time All-Ohioan over her four-year career. Her best finish came last year, when she won a state title in the high jump.
"I did the best I could," said Grayson, who will compete in the heptathlon at YSU next year. "That's all anyone can ever ask."
And, as is her tradition, Grayson lifted her ban on sweets as soon as her track season was over.
"Yeah, I'm looking forward to it," she said. "Where are my donuts?"

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