Optimist meet athletes dance around their proms
By Brandon Judeh
Things can be tricky for track coaches in early May as prom season and all of its festivities linger on the minds of student athletes.
For Austintown Fitch, Boardman and Canfield athletes, their proms were this weekend, but that didn’t distract any of their runners in Saturday’s 33rd annual Optimist Meet at Fitch Falcon Stadium.
“After I finished running I told myself, ‘OK, now it’s time to go get ready for the dance,’ “ Canfield runner Emma Lunne said. ”It’s a little weird to go from running two miles to getting ready for prom.”
The busy weekend didn’t hold Lunne back as she finished second in the girls 3,200-meter run with a time of 11:17.
Despite the high finish, Lunne says she needs to improve her time in the coming weeks before tournament meets.
Perhaps the biggest day was enjoyed by a freshman. Boardman runner Nathan Hadley, who ran a 4:32 in the boys 1600-meter run, earned a trip to a national event that will be in June.
“It feels good to see that all of the hard work I put in has paid off,” Hadley said. “I run about 40 miles a week, along with workouts.
“My goal at nationals is to finish in the top five.”
His coach, John Phillips, is happy, not just with Hadley’s performance, but also with his upperclassmen.
“We had a good day,” Phillips said. “Mark and Nathan Hadley, Nathan Jones and Alan Burns all placed very high today.
“We feel like we are in a lot better shape right now then we were at this time last season.”
Phillips added that he is happy that his team kept the meet as a top priority even though Friday night was prom.
“We told our kids to go to prom and have a good time,” Phillips said. “The Optimist Meet is there if you want to put track as a priority.
“It was great to see our team put track near the top and still go out and enjoy all of the fun that goes along with prom,” Phillips said.
Fitch also had a great showing at its home track.
“The team did very well, we came close to breaking a couple of records today, but fell just shy,” Falcons coach Seth Steiner said. “Ebony Davis did a great job, she also anchored our 4X200-meter team from behind to get the win.
“We gave our kids the option of coming a little later to the race or leaving a little early, we don’t usually do that, but since the dance was last night we left the door open,” Steiner said.
Davis also won the 200-meter dash, running a 25.40 and helped the 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter teams to top three finishes.
The Falcons boys and girls finished strong, with the girls taking the overall title with 63 points, 10.5 more than second place Stow-Munroe Falls. The boys narrowly lost out on the title, finishing two points behind the overall winner St. Edwards. The Falcons finished with 70 points.