Field co-MVP leads Falcons to team title
By Joe Scalzo
With a 5:30 p.m. date ahead of him (“A nice young lady friend of mine,” he said), a 6 a.m. wake-up call behind him and a 33-degree rain around him, Fitch junior Billy Price could be forgiven for being less than ecstatic about Saturday’s discus preliminaries.
Just not by his coach.
“My coach [T.J. Koniowsky] kind of set my head straight with putting track first,” Price said.
So, in the finals, Price kept his head — and his throws — relatively straight, uncorking a personal-best throw of 191 feet, 7 inches to win the event and finish in a three-way tie for field MVP honors at the Poland Invitational, leading the Falcons to a 31-point team victory over Cleveland Heights.
“When I let it go, I didn’t let my hip clear all the way, so when it went to the right, I was just praying to God that the wind would just keep it going right and land barely in sector,” said Price, an Ohio State football recruit. “When it did, it was just an awesome feeling.
“I was like, ‘Yes! Finally!’”
Before the discus landed, Koniowsky started shouting “Get in! Get in!” When it landed just inside the boundary, Price let out a “Woo!” then crouched down and pumped his fingers.
When asked about the crouch, Koniowsky shrugged and said, “Last year he did the boxing thing, where he shadowboxed.”
“Adrenaline,” he said.
Afterward, Price changed into a shirt that read “Yeah buddy,” prompting Koniowsky to vow that he’ll get a sleeveless “Yeah, buddy” for the state meet.
“It’s gonna be the gun show, baby,” Price said.
“It will be,” Koniowsky said.
Fitch senior Jay Jakovina won the high jump and placed third in the long jump to share field MVP honors with Price and Springfield senior Stephen Lyons, who won the shot and placed third in the discus.
“This is probably the biggest competition I’ve had since state,” said Lyons, the Division III state runner-up in the shot put last year. “Price is good, [Salem junior Anthony] Shivers is pretty good and they help bring me up and I help bring them up.
“It’s been a pretty long day but it was worth it.”
East senior Valentino Sewell won the “Iron Bulldog” award after winning both hurdling events and helping the Panthers place fifth in the team standings.
“We came in with the motto ‘One city, one team’ and so that’s what we keep it as,” said Sewell. “Coach has been pushing me hard in practice, getting on me every time and telling me the same thing, to keep my form all the way through.
“I did all I could do to come in first place and I guess God helped me out.”
Fitch sophomore Carissa Jenkins placed second in the 3200-meter run and won the 1600 a few hours later. By 2:30 p.m., she was inside the Fitch tent napping.
“I don’t even remember the 2-mile, it was so long ago,” she said, still slightly groggy during her interview. “It’s been a very good day but it’s very exhausting. First of all, you have to get a good breakfast, which means you have to wake up earlier, cook everything and then come and run in the pouring-down rain in 30-degree weather where your muscles just want to collapse.
“When you’re running distance events, of course you just want to pass out and fall at the finish line.”
Fortunately, she didn’t, thanks to a combination of scrambled eggs, toast and muffins.
No grits, though. Just grit.
“I think I learned not to doubt yourself,” said Jenkins, whose 2-mile time of 11:44.09 was 34 seconds behind Firestone senior Sarah Meek. “I really do think in the 2-mile I doubted myself and I could have performed a lot better.
“That’s just another thing to learn.”