By Eric Hamilton
AUSTINTOWN — During his 20 years as the Boardman High boys track coach, Dave Pavlansky has had more than his fair share of talented individuals and great teams.
And sometimes coaches don’t like to make comparisons, but after the performance the Spartans put on at Friday’s Division I district meet, he had few reservations about putting the 2009 version in perspective.
“It’s probably the most well-rounded team I’ve had,” said Pavlansky. “We are really strong in the field events, have a great distance squad and our distance kids are stepping up.”
Boardman utilized its depth in nearly every event to pile up 155 points and outdistance second-place Twinsburg (116) for its third straight district championship.
“One the best characteristics of this team is that everyone loves their events,” said Pavlansky. “They have fun competing in meets and with each other at practice. When you have guys pushing each other every day, it makes for a great practice environment.”
Boardman was paced by a pair of district champions. Corey Linsley won the shot put with a meet record toss of 63-feet, 1 Ω inches, while Alex Lipinsky also qualified for the regional by taking third.
Freshman Chase Hammond soared 6-6 to win the district crown in the high jump.
Sam Deskin qualified for regional in the 1600 and 3200, finishing second in both races. Caleb Matthews, who had already moved in the long jump on Wednesday, added regional berths in the 110 and 300 hurdles.
Sprinter T.J. Jordon did his part, too, by taking the final qualifying spot in a stellar 100 field. He was also part of the Spartans’ 4x100 relay that advanced.
“I just worked hard and that leads to good performances in big meets like this,” said Jordon. “I just try to be humble and do the best I can. It’s nice to know that with our team, if someone has a bad met, there’s always someone there to have your back and pick you up.”
Warren Harding (114) finished third on the strength of the outstanding sprinters. Mitchell Seawood won the 110 hurdles and qualified fourth in the 300 hurdles, while teammate Deaver Williamson topped the field in both the 100 and 200.
Joseph Threats finished second in the 100 and third in the 200, and Marvin Logan won the 300 hurdles.
The Raiders’ 4x100 and 4x200 (meet record) relays had the top times and featured Logan, Seawood, Threats and Williamson — the same group that competed at the prestigious Penn Relays earlier this season.
“We did what we expected to do today,” said Williamson. “The heat and the wind and having the back-to-back races made it tough, but we just kept our minds straight and had a good attitude for our races.
“We really want to win state in the 4x100 this year. It was really crazy at Penn, running against the Jamaicans and I think we surprised ourselves a little bit [fourth in the big school division]. We’ll have some good competition next week, so we need to keep our No. 1 spot.”
In the girls meet, Boardman (117.25), Fitch (90) and Howland (63) finished second through fourth behind Twinsburg (128).
The Spartans’ Lauren Agnew advanced to the regional in the 1600 and 800, winning the former and taking second in the latter. Teammate Becca Muntean won the 800.
Victoria Moore took fourth in the 1600, Ashlee Grazzini won the pole vault, Nicole Biagetti took top honors in the long jump and Valerie Hood (second) and Erin Brown (fourth) qualified in the discus.
Fitch’s Jen Shiley qualified in four events, including the 200 and 400. She also helped the Falcons’ 4x200 and 4x400 relays advance. Ali Tolich won the district title in the discus and teammate Shannon Rech took gold in the 3200.
Howland standout Nicole Pachol moved one step closer to the state meet in the 100 and 300 hurdles by winning both events.
After missing all of her junior season recuperating from hip surgery, you could tell she was thrilled to be competing again when it starts to matter most.
“I try to run every race like it’s my last,” said Pachol, who had surgery in February 2008. “It gets sore, but I don’t have any pain. My doctor went over certain exercises that I need to do.
“I had a lot of times going through my head this morning, but once we got here and felt the heat and the wind, then all I could really ask for was to get in the top four and move on.”