By joe scalzo
Here’s a feel-good story for you.
More than two years after his first ACL tear, more than one year after his second ACL tear and just a few weeks before another knee surgery, South Range senior Jon Kenney turned “What could have been” into “What still could be.”
Kenney won a Division III district title in the discus on Wednesday — the first of his career — and is just one good meet away from erasing a career’s worth of crummy memories.
“After going through all of that [knee injuries], it’s really just a great feeling to be able to come back and do this,” he said.
Kenney’s knee problems began midway through his sophomore football season. A linebacker, he was going for a tackle when he got hit on his right knee, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and the meniscus — a nasty injury with several nicknames, including the “unhappy triad,” the “terrible triad” and the “horrible triangle.”
He recovered in time for track season — albeit at less than 100 percent — and just missed qualifying for the regional tournament in the shot and discus. Then, that fall, he suffered the same injury while trying to block a punt, only on his left knee.
Again, he returned for track season and this time he qualified for the regional meet in both throwing events, only to finish fifth in the discus, missing out on the final state qualifying spot by two inches.
“It’s been my dream to make it to state since my freshman year,” he said. “Last year I was almost there. To get there would be awesome.”
He’s got a good chance. Of the top 11 discus throwers at last year’s regional meet, nine were seniors. His winning throw from Wednesday’s meet (151 feet, 1 inch) would have been good enough for fourth last year and his personal best (154-1) would have took third.
“I’m just trying to stay consistent and hopefully the big one will come,” said Kenney, who will throw at Mount Union next season. “I feel like I’m due.”
McDonald eyes titles
McDonald’s 4x800-meter relay placed first thanks to a gap-closing third leg by Bobby Johnson and a strong anchor leg from Patrick Kunkel as the trophy-seeking Blue Devils kept pace with South Range in the team standings after three events.
“It started out pretty ugly,” Kunkel said of the race. “We kind of slowly progressed and Bobby definitely brought us back into it. He gave us one last nice shift in the home stretch when he passed up South Range and that just left us and United [in the front].”
Columbiana’s Britton Steiginga won the other boys final, placing first in the long jump with a leap of 21-8 3/4.
On the girls side, McDonald juniors Jai’Lyn Mosley and Tory Ross placed 1-2 in the shot put as the Blue Devils took a 9.5-point lead after four events.
“It was a good day for both of us,” said Mosley, who threw a personal-best 38-10 1/2. “It feels like a blessing that I can do this.”
East Palestine senior Chloe Snyder won her first district title, winning the high jump with a leap of 5-2. After battling through a torn quadriceps muscle last season — “One day it could be good, the next it could be an awful day” — she’s feeling good about her chances of qualifying for state this season, especially if she can match her career-best jump (5-4).
“It’s good to come back [from the injury] and win,” said Snyder, who placed seventh at last year’s regional meet with a 5-foot jump. “If I do my technique well and get a good run-up, I think I jump 5-6. So that’s my goal.”
United’s 4x800 relay (9:55.73) and Brookfield pole vaulter Maggie Slattery (6-6) also won events.