United sweeps ITCL track championships

By Eric Hamilton

HANOVERTON – United Local’s Emily Bokanovich isn’t the typical two-sport athlete. While it’s common for athletes at small schools to compete in multiple sports, it’s much more unique to do it in the same season.

On Thursday, while her softball team was busy playing a tournament game a few hundred yards away, Bokanovich’s focus was on the four events she was slated to run for the track team. With her thoughts in two places at once, her body took over, as she scored 30.5 points with victories in the 200 and 400, a second in the 100 and another win as part of the Eagles 4x200 relay.

Things couldn’t have worked out much better for the sophomore, as her softball teammates won their game and her track team claimed the ITCL Tier 1 team championship.

“It’s a tough schedule for sure,” said Bokanovich, who plays center field for the softball team. “It pretty much takes up my whole spring. I’m always going back and forth and sometimes after track practice I go to softball practice, too.

“Before the season, I had to pick a primary sport and a secondary sport. I like both equally with the weather, you never know how things are going to go. I just try to focus on whatever I’m doing that day.”

United’s team depth was enough for it to outdistance Mineral Ridge 144-115 to win the girls team title. Five teammates ranked among the top 10 individual point scorers. Sierra Parks pulled out an upset victory in the 300 hurdles, Ruth Prosko took second in the 800 and Victoria Bates placed first and second in the throwing events.

Mineral Ridge was paced by junior Kristen Basista, who won the 100 hurdles, finished second in both the 200 and 300 hurdles and third in the 100. Her 32 points was just .5 points away from winning MVP honors.

“I’m proud of myself, but I just wore down a little bit in the 200,” said Basista. “My times were OK, but I know I have to kick it up a little bit for districts and regionals.”

Columbiana’s Stephanie Case completed a tough triple by winning the 800, 1600 and 3200, setting a new meet mark in the 800. She also ran on the Clippers’ winning 4x800 relay. Her 32.5 points earned her MVP honors.

“I’m a senior and this is a good way to go out,” said Case, who has been battling coughing fits for almost two weeks. “I wasn’t going to let the coughing stop me.”

The United boys completed the title sweep, piling up 139 points to beat East Palestine (100) and South Range (89).

United received string performances from thrower Ethan Wutrick (first in discus, second in the shot), Zack Lease (first in the long jump), 4x800 relay (first) and Mike McLaughlin (first in the 110 and 300 hurdles).

The Eagles also got a big lift from the return of top sprinter Zane Smith, who returned after pulling both hamstrings in the span of a few weeks. After being limited to one event at the county meet, he was back to his full slate of four events.

The junior scored 30 points for his team by winning the 200 and 400, placing second in the 100 and competing on the Eagles’ second-place 4x200 relay.

“It’s pretty tender right now,” said Smith, who ran with both hamstrings taped. “I try not to think about it when I’m running, but I’m really restricted on what I can do. It’s frustrating.”

East Palestine was led by senior distance ace David Chick, who claimed MVP honors with 30.5 points. He also won the 800, 1600 and 3200 and ran on the distance relay.

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