Matthews sparks Boardman to eighth place in Optimist

By Eric Hamilton

He won the long jump and scored 18.5 points for his shorthanded team.

AUSTINTOWN — Boardman High’s Caleb Matthews could have taken the easy way out. But despite the rainy conditions and stiff competition at Saturday’s Optimist Meet, the junior treated the meet like business as usual.

Instead of choosing just one or two events in an effort to conserve energy — like many of the athletes did — Matthews competed in three of his regular events. The strategy of staying in his normal routine paid off, as he scored in all three, including a victory in the long jump.

“I did cut out the 300 hurdles today, because with all the prelims and finals and the weather it is a lot of running around,” said Matthews. “There are a lot of good kids here and this meet gets me ready for districts and regionals. I wanted to have that challenge today.

“I wanted to win the long jump and fortunately I was able to do that. In the high jump, there are a lot of good ones here and it shows me how much harder I need to work to get up to where they are.”

Matthews finished in a six-way tie for sixth in the high jump after clearing 5-9. It turned out to be his lowest finish of the day.

The junior claimed fourth in the 110 hurdles and took the gold in the long jump.

With that victory, he was the only competitor to jump over 21 feet, with an effort of 21-1/2. He also won that event two weeks ago at Fitch in the Mahoning County meet.

Matthews’ 18.5 points spurred the Boardman boys’ team to an eighth-place team finish, despite not fielding a full team. Most of the distance team was missing, as well as the Spartans’ top weights throwers.

The boys’ team championship was claimed by Wadsworth, who pulled away from second-place Copley (80) with 98 points. Canton GlenOak (72.5) was third, while Twinsburg (60) and North Canton Hoover (38) rounded out the top five.

Fitch (25) was just a half-point behind rival Boardman in ninth place. The Falcons’ finish was highlighted by strong performances in the pole vault by Jim Verdream (second) and Dan Hammond (fourth).

Matt Nypaver finished fifth in the long jump and George Thomas (third) and Cody Jones (seventh) both placed in the discus.

Other top performances for area competitors included Crestview’s Jakob Leon, who won the high jump (6-4), Howland’s Michael Mangiarelli (second, long jump; eighth, 110 hurdles), Dave Nelson (fourth, 800) and Eric Albani (fourth, 400), Chaney’s Myke Parker (second, 400; eighth, 200) and James Burns (seventh, 300 hurdles), East Palestine’s Jeff Farkas (second, 110 hurdles) and Dalton Cope (seventh, 200) and Boardman’s TJ Jordon (seventh, 100).

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