By john bassettI
The man in a Santa suit mowing grass along the street near Canfield Stadium conveyed a mixed sign of the season, but, despite low temperatures, the lightly clad athletes in the 100th Mahoning County Track & Field Meet had no problem warming up, especially one who lowered a 41-year record.
Fitch High won both boys and girls categories in Division I, while South Range did likewise in Division II in the Mahoning County Educational Service Center-sponsored event, which was held at Canfield for only the second time after most of its century of competition at Youngstown city tracks as well as at Fitch during a good chunk of the last half-century.
The MVPs were Boardman’s Mark Hadley and Fitch’s Ebony Davis in Division I and South Range’s Andrew O’Leary and Ursuline’s Lavonte Powell in Division II.
Hadley repeated as county meet champion in both the 1600 and 3200 and the junior set a record in the 3200 on Saturday.
His 9:29.911 broke the 9:31.10 held by Fitch’s Billy Walsh since 1972, when the race was the 2-mile.
“He won by quite a bit,” Canfield junior Rollin Bresson said in reply to a question about the distance between himself and Hadley.
Bresson was clocked in 9:57.66.
Hadley admitted to gunning for the record.
“My goal was to stay on pace, so I kicked it in pretty hard the last lap to make sure I got it,” Hadley said after the 3,200. About two hours earlier, Hadley won the 1600 in 4:26.
“I wanted to get out fast and early, so I could save up for the 3,200,” Hadley said of his first event.
O’Leary won the 100, 200 and 400 and ran the anchor leg of the winning 4x400 with Adam Meloy, Cole Krumpak and David McCabe in 3:37.41.
O’Leary hadn’t run in the county meet since he was a freshman because it was cancelled in 2011 and because he was injured the week of the meet as a junior. He did however, placed third at state in Division III in the 400 in 2012.
Davis won three events: 100 (12.93), 200 (26.45) and 400 (1:01.60). The sophomore was also on the winning 4x100 with Lauren Bower, Maddy Miller and Tabreasia Gowdy in 51.43.
Powell was first in the 400 (1:02.37), 100 (12.96) and 200 (27.42) .
Canfield senior Emma Lunne won the 1,600 in 5:23.97 and the 3200 in 11:18.67.
The high jump area was cold and windy, but intense when Struthers senior Arnaldo Morales and Fitch’s Sam Ortz were tied after three misses at 6-4, before going to a sudden-death jump at the same height.
After both failed a fourth time, the bar was dropped to 6-3. That’s when Morales went over safety to win.
“It feels good, but I wish I had a higher height,” said Morales. “I don’t like winning at such a low height. I’d rather win at 6-7 or so.”
Morales’ best outdoors this spring was 6-7 at the Girard Relays, while his best indoors was 6-8.
Ortz said that running the 300 hurdles earlier may have taken some spring out of his step on Saturday.
“That killed me,” said the 17-year-old junior who placed fifth in the event. “It took a lot out of me.”
At last year’s Mahoning County meet, Ortz was third in the high jump behind Morales, who was a runnerup to winner Jay Jakovina of Fitch.
Ursuline’s Preston Williams was the Division II winner at 5-10. He sat out last year after transferring from Liberty.
High jump area officials were Karen Sapp, an assistant principal and athletic director at Crestview, and Renay Choma, a first-grade teacher in the Lowellville system.