ZallowS, Rice WIN FOUR TITLES FOR WARREN JFK
By Joe Scalzo
Just after 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Morgan Rice began one of the best days in Warren JFK’s athletic history with a bowl of oatmeal — “Which I hate,” she said, laughing — and some brown sugar.
From there, things only got sweeter.
In the first event of the Division III state track and field meet, the 100-meter hurdles, Rice bolted out of her blocks, grabbed the lead and spent the final three hurdles (where she usually starts to tire) making a statment: This was JFK’s day.
Rice finished in 14.81 — more than a half-second faster than anyone else in the race — and as she crossed the finish line, she admitted “I was about to cry.”
Her teammate, Chad Zallow, watched the race from 100 meters away, just behind the starting line. Seconds later, he matched her, winning the 110 hurdles to give the Eagles a pair of state titles in the meet’s first five minutes.
“I was nervous coming in, but that’s a good thing,” said Zallow, who ran a 14.35. “I had some good guys pushing me, so I came out and finished strong.”
Zallow’s older brother, Carl, watched that race from just behind the starting line as he prepared for the next event, the 100.
“I saw Morgan won, then I saw Chad won and then I just knew — it’s me now,” Carl said.
He was right. Carl finished in 10.88 — one of just two boys to break 11 seconds — to give JFK its third individual state title in the first 15 minutes. Over the next hour, the Eagles added a runner-up finish in the 4x200, a sixth-place finish in the 400 (by Zach Watt) and a state title in the 300 hurdles by Chad, whose time (36.87) shattered a 20-year-old state record (37.58).
And, honestly, he didn’t even run it that well, chopping his steps before one hurdle and leaping over two hurdles with the wrong lead leg.
“There’s still a lot of room for improvement,” said Chad, who admitted he was shocked to break the record. “I was just going for the win. I knew we had some fast guys in the heat, including the defending state champion [Columbus Academy’s John Lint], so he pushed me to the state record.
“I heard him coming at the end, so I put my little afterburners on.”
The win gave JFK 41 points. Had the Eagles’ 4x400 relay not been disqualified after winning at districts, they might have been able to make a run at their first team title. Instead they finished third behind Columbus Academy (49) and Lima Central Catholic (43).
“We set our program so it’s geared toward this day,” JFK coach Robert Andrews said. “We’re not really big on the meets in April and May. We train and we work toward a day like today. Unfortunately, that’s all I know, spending time at [perennial track power] Cleveland Glenville.
“Our athletes are excelling at their events today and it’s because they’ve prepared to do so.”
Andrews wore Glenville’s “three-peat” state championship ring at Saturday’s meet — the Tarblooders eventually won five straight from 2003-07 — in hopes of inspiring the Eagles.
“Hopefully it helps them when they see I’ve been there and done it,” he said.
With just one boy graduating — Rob Seger — the Eagles could do it again next year.
At the very least, they should leave hungry. And not just for oatmeal.