Weather delays Division III first day, but meet successful
By Jon Moffett
As Dan Skiba sat on the Mineral Ridge High team bus, probably the last thing he was thinking about was the meet he and his fellow athletes were missing due to the rain.
That’s because Skiba’s day was pretty much over as soon as it started. The senior long-jumper made one attempt at his signature event, and that was all he needed.
Skiba won the long jump in the Division III district championship meet at Springfield Local High on Wednesday. Only a handful of titles were handed out, as the meet will conclude with the finals in most events on Friday.
About five minutes after the meet was scheduled to begin, the long-jump official declared an open lane for whoever wanted to first jump into the newly raked sand. Skiba jumped at the opportunity to get it over with.
That’s also about when he jumped into the record book.
Skiba’s only jump was measured 22-feet-6, which broke the previous record of 21-feet-7.5 set at last year’s district meet by Shane Peterson of East Palestine.
About an hour and a half later, Skiba and the rest of the participants were seeking shelter from a massive storm front that came on Springfield Local like a sprinter down the stretch.
After about an hour, teams resumed the first day of the meet, which included six finals and preliminaries in most other races.
Skiba, who also participated on the 4x100 relay team for the Rams, said he had planned to go all out on one jump anyway and leave it all up to chance.
Well, sort of up to chance.
Skiba entered the meet with a best jump of 23-feet, which was two feet more than his next competitor.
“I don’t want people to think I’m being cocky or anything like that. I’m just trying to save my body and not get hurt,” he said. “If you take too many jumps, your shins will start to hurt and you’ll lose some of your power.”
Joining Skiba to qualify for the regional meet were Columbiana’s Britton Steiginga (21-2), Mineral Ridge teammate Mike Keleman (20-1.5) and East Palestine’s Derek Ross (19-10.5).
The boys long jump was one of four field finals. The others were boys discus and girls shot put and high jump. The boys and girls 4x800 relays were also finals.
The McDonald team of Jeff Kunkel, Patrick Kunkel, Kyle Jones and Jerry Dugan earned the top spot for the boys, while the Lowellville team of Emily Carlson, Ashley Moore, Rachel Durbin and Natalie Frank earned the title for the girls.
Rounding out the top four for the boys were Lisbon, South Range and Lowellville. And making the trip to the regional meet for the girls were the teams from McDonald, Columbiana and Brookfield.
Perhaps the most competitive of the final events was the girls 4x800. Rivals McDonald and Lowellville each took turns battling for the top spot during the race. Carlson opened the race for the Rockets, and led for about 600 meters before Sarah Jones gave the Blue Devils the edge.
But Frank, Lowellville’s anchor, kicked in into high gear.
“I think a lot of other teams are finally realizing how good we are now whereas they might have overlooked us before,” Frank said. “But I think we kind of proved ourselves. We felt kind of like the underdogs coming in.”
Carlson said she is nervous at the start of the race because she never knows who the other team’s best runner is.
“It’s a lot of pressure to try and keep up with all of the other runners and let the my teammates pick it up.”