Salem speeds to county records
By Eric Hamilton
SALEM — Salem High boys track coach Todd Huda has a problem on his hands when it comes to filling out his lineup — too many fast kids.
During Tuesday’s 106th Columbiana County meet, Huda took advantage of his enviable position by putting together two record-breaking relays and stacking the sprinting events with top talent.
The depth — and speed — paid off in a big way as the Quakers reclaimed their spot on the team leaderboard by winning their fifth county team title in six years. Salem amassed 140 points to outdistance runner-up and 2008 champion United (119).
“This was our No. 1 goal,” Huda said. “The kids were upset after what happened last year and they always expect to compete at a high level at this meet.
“Our times were phenomenal today and our relays were impressive. We knew our relays and sprinters would be right there, but our throwers really solidified things for us today,” Huda said.
“Our distance guys and 4x800 relay team has been working hard and we have five or six guys who can really go in the sprints. It’s a nice problem to have. We have great kids that work hard.”
Salem won the 4x100 and 4x200 relays in record fashion, breaking meet marks in both. The team of Ben Eisel, Dustin Matak, Jason Keniston and Trent Toothman finished in 43.1, eclipsing the time of 44.2 by Wellsville in 1993. That quartet, won the event last week at the Optimist.
Individually, Matak won the 100 and took third in the 200. Keniston was second in the 200 and third in the 100. Those finishes alone provided the Quakers with 30 team points.
“It feels good to get our team points in a meet like this,” Matak said. “Winning county is all that matters right now. Last year, we worried too much about individual events, but this year we were focused on working together.
“I think our relays can go really far and our throwers and distance people are getting us some points, too.”
The Quakers received 32 key points from throwers Mike Boggs and Mike King.
There were several impressive individual performances by athletes from other schools. Crestview’s Jakob Leon was named the field event MVP after winning the high jump and long jump.
East Palestine’s David Chick scored 28 points in the running events with victories in the 1600 and 3200 and a second in the 800.
Winning individual titles for United were Steven Baker (110 hurdles), Ethan Wutrick (shot put), Mike McLaughlin (300 hurdles), and BJ Martin (800). The Golden Eagles’ 4x400 relay squad earned a title as well.
The United girls won their third county title in five years with superior team depth and a few strong individual performances. The Golden Eagles posted 149 points to beat 2008 champion Salem (108). East Liverpool (97) was third.
Pacing United was sophomore standout Emily Bokanovich, who was named running event MVP after winning county titles in the 100, 200 and 400. She also competed on the victorious 4x200 relay squad.
“It feels amazing,” said Bokanovich after winning the 200 meter crown. “We just tried to set our goals high and come out and run. We knew what we had to do and we came out and did it.”
The Golden Eagles won two relays, while taking second in the other two. Those units were led by senior Maggie Miller, who was a part of three of them.
Victoria Bates supplied the firepower in the throwing events, taking second in the discus and third in the discus. A pair of freshmen provided 14 points in the 800, as Ruth Prosko won the event and teammate Taylor Ritchie took fifth.
Leetonia’s Clarissa Perkins earned the honor of field event MVP by winning the shot put and discus. Columbiana’s Steph Case earned victories in the 1600 and 3200.