By Eric Hamilton
EAST PALESTINE — You could say that Boardman High’s Caleb Matthews is a little bit like the United States Postal Service — no matter how bad the weather is, he still delivers.
The senior successfully defended his long jump and high jump championships and took second in the 110 hurdles Saturday to propel his team to its third straight team championship at the 40th Ward Invitational.
Matthews, who scored a total of 28 points (20 in the field events) to share MVP honors with teammate Corey Linsley, who earned victories in the discus and shot put.
“I guess I’m satisfied,” Matthews said. “But I need to work on my start in the hurdles and I only jumped 20 feet in the long jump, so I’m hoping to improve each meet. But considering the cold and the wind today, I think I did OK.”
The weather conditions weren’t ideal, but could have been worse. Temperatures struggled to climb to 40 and the wind was gusting to almost 20 miles per hour. Many athletes were hesitant to take off their sweats until just before the gun sounded.
For Matthews, the saving grace was that he didn’t have much time to let the chill set in. The meet included boys teams only, so instead of completing the long jump, then having rest before the high jump, Matthews was going back and forth.
He was able to focus on the long jump first by passing on the lower heights in the high jump. But at one point, he did have to compete in one event, then jog over to the other to take his turn in the rotation. Add in a preliminary run in the 110 hurdles and he spent more time out of his warmer clothes than in them.
“It helps keep your legs warm running between the events,” said Matthews, who cleared 6-4 in the high jump and got 20-8 Ω in the long jump. “Usually, you just stand around and your muscles get tight, but that didn’t happen today.”
The Spartans brought only a shell of a team to the meet, as several starters were missing in order to get some rest for next week’s Federal League dual while others were taking the ACT on Saturday.
But thanks to the combined 48 points from Matthews and Linsley, and the contributions from several others, Boardman scored 75 team points to take the team crown.
Fitch and Poland scored 57 points to tie for second.
“We are strong in a few spots and deep in others,” Boardman coach Dave Pavlansky said. “Obviously, Corey and Caleb were our bright spots today, but we had others who really competed hard today.
“We usually know our lineups for the Federal League meets because they count like football games do and then we use Saturdays to mess with things a little and get some training done.
“This is a quality meet and we’re excited to come here and win it. We threw together some relay teams with baling wire and then they end up placing. So, everyone did a nice job for us.”
Alex Lipinsky took third in the discus and Dontay Eaddy added a fifth in the shop put. Junior T.J. Jordon took fifth in the 100 and competed on the 4X100 and 4X200 relay squads that placed.
Poland’s Sean Murphy will be walking around with some battle scars from his accomplishments on Saturday. The junior took second in the 800 meters, but it was his leg of the 4X800 relay that stood out.
The Bulldogs occupied the second position behind Massillon Perry most of the race. On the third leg, freshman Kevin Krumpak stayed within striking distance.
After taking the handoff from Krumpak, Murphy ran off the right shoulder of Perry anchor runner Josh Tormasi, using him to shield the wind.
The two battled for position on the final straight-a-way and Murphy leaned for the finish line just ahead of Tormasi in a photo finish. Just as the duo crossed the line, their legs gave out and they went down.
“That race was a killer, but I just got on my toes and gave it all I could,” Murphy said. “I had enough energy to push across the line and my legs gave out and so did his. “I have scuffs on my back, knee and elbow, but nothing too bad.
“We were fifth at regionals last year, so we want to go to state this year. We have two seniors and myself and I think Krumpak is training hard with us and can fill that fourth spot this year.”
Poland’s Robert Balzano was the running event MVP, scoring 14 points. He won the 400, was on the winning 4X400 relay team and ran on the third-place 4X200 relay squad.