Fitch athletes earn silver at state indoor meet

By Joe Scalzo

Fitch senior Waylan Andrews came down the backstretch on the last corner of Saturday’s 400-meter dash final with gold in his eyes and Shaker Heights senior Elijah Owens on his hip.

“I wanted to win,” Andrews said. “But I tightened up a little on the backstretch and he had a little more strength. I couldn’t beat him.

“I guess that was the best I could do.”

Andrews finished in 49.30 –just behind Owens’ winning time of 49.16 – to earn one of three silver medals for the Falcons at Saturday’s Division I state indoor meet at the University of Akron.

Andrews’ teammate, junior Jay Jakovina, placed second in the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 8 inches. It was a confidence-boosting performance for Jakovina, who had jumped “just” 6-3 at last weekend’s New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York.

“I’m just glad to be back in the same [height] range where I was,” said Jakovina, who came in with the best qualifying jump (6-9 1/4). “I’m not satisfied but I can’t argue with second place on the podium.”

Jakovina finished 13th at last year’s indoor state meet – “That was bad,” he said, smiling – but said that experience, along with last week’s, helped him on Saturday.

“It was just way less pressure today,” he said. “After last year, I knew what to expect and nationals was such a big thing. Coming here a week later is just a different experience.”

The Falcon boys placed an area-best eighth in the team standings with 22 points, while the Fitch girls were even better, finishing seventh with 25 points.

Senior Ali Tolich was a big reason for that success, placing second in the weight throw and fourth in the shot put to lead the Falcons. Problem was, she won both events last year and is still working through some technique problems that have crept up in recent weeks.

“I was just disappointed in my performance,” said Tolich, who also won shot put and discus titles at last year’s state outdoor meet. “We definitely have a lot to work on and now we know that for a fact.

“I’ve had better days.”

After struggling in the shot – the weaker of her two indoor events – Tolich tried to put it behind her and start the weight throw with a blank slate.

“But the same thing sort of happened,” said Tolich, an Ashland recruit. “This is the last time I’ll throw the weight in college so now I’ve got to focus on fixing the shot and getting back into disc.

“I’ll definitely be redeeming myself over the next couple weeks.”

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