By Eric Hamilton
Alixandra Tolich placed second in the discus and seventh in the shot put for Fitch.
AUSTINTOWN – Under the radar — that’s where the Fitch High girls’ track team has been flying this season. But if the performance the squad put together during Saturday’s Optimist Meet is any indication, the Falcons are ready to soar into the limelight.
On the strength of strong efforts from the sprinters and field event specialists, Fitch finished a respective sixth in the field of 28 teams. The meet is generally considered to be one of the most competitive in Northeast Ohio.
“With the way our season has been going, I’m not surprised, but I’m pleased,” said Fitch girls coach T.J. Koniowsky. “Our goal in big meets like these is to put our kids in the best situations to be successful and let the team thing take care of itself. We’re trying to get things loaded up for the Federal League meet coming up.
“We’ve really had a great offseason with our lifting program and had some sophomores and freshmen really help us out. If our strengths can continue to get stronger and we can fill in the gaps in some events, we’ll continue to get better.”
One of the top performers for the Falcons was thrower Alixandra Tolich, who surprised even herself by finishing second in the very competitive discus. She added a seventh-place effort in shot put.
“That was my best ever,” said Tolich of her personal best throw of 130 feet, 2 inches in the discus. “I didn’t think I’d do that well today — especially with the rain. But I just tried to keep my disc as dry as I could for as long as I could and focus.
“Everyone on our team is chipping in and scoring points — it’s not just a couple of people. We know that if we all have good days, we can place well. We know that as individuals we have to work for the team and it’s not all about ourselves.”
Fitch scored 45.25 team points in the meet, which was won by Twinsburg, who finished with 80.25. Hudson (74) was second, followed by North Canton (73.5), Canton GlenOak (69) and CVCA (56.25).
While Tolich provided 11 team points for Fitch, she had plenty of help from her friends. Kayla Shuttleworth collected five points with her fourth-place finish in the pole vault.
The Falcons scored two runners in the 400, with Jen Shiley taking fourth and Lindsay Koontz finishing sixth. Both were members of the Falcons’ 4X400 relay team that took fourth.
Alyssa Yacovone was sixth in the 100-meter hurdles, while the 4x100 team was fourth and the 4x200 quartet finished third. Both relays included Danielle Truswell, Emarie Bees, Dana Lucido and Tiarra Sanders.
Locals dominated the discus, which was won by Sarah Brobeck of Salem with a throw of 138-10 on her second toss of the finals. Newton Falls’ KaiCee Kubicina (129-09) was third.
McDonald’s Emily Dolsak was sixth, Poland’s Lauren Handwork took seventh and Howland’s Kelly Barzak finished eighth.
“After the 130 in the prelims, I knew I had to throw better in the finals because I know what these other girls can do,” said Brobeck. “The biggest challenge was to keep the disc dry in my hand; the ring wasn’t too bad. I just tried to stay dry and throw as well as I could.”
Kubicina, also a 2007 state placer, placed second in the shot put with a heave of 38-8 3/4.
Struthers’ Ashley Galbraith continued her assault on the competition in the high jump, claiming the championship with a leap of 5-4.
While it wasn’t her best jump of the season, it is only one inch off her 5-5 effort in the 2007 state meet, where she finished third in Division II.
“I feel good because to win a meet like this it shows me that getting back to state is right on my fingertips,” said Galbraith, who will compete in track at Ohio State next year.
“I know that it all comes down to how good I feel that day and how the others feel.
“My coaches kind of keep track of where I stack up to some of the other jumpers in the state. Last I heard, I have the best jump in Division II and the fourth-best in the nation. So that helps me to know what I need to work to get better.”
Galbraith added a third-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles.
Chaney’s Shatasia Walker (third) and Alyssa Sykes (fourth) gave the Cowboys 11 team points in the 100-meter hurdles. Darielle Cofield took third in the 200.
Jackson-Milton’s Sarah Hamilton finished seventh in the 3200 and Boardman’s Patricia Haff was seventh in the 1600.