Austintown Fitch, South Range sweep county meet

By Brian Dzenis


Some track athletes may run an event or two before retiring to the team tent for the rest of the afternoon, but Jakari Lumsden did not enjoy such a luxury Saturday.

The Austintown Fitch sprinter and jumper did enjoy earning Most Valuble Performer honors, winning three out of five events as the Falcons boys team won the 104th annual Mahoning County Track and Field Championships.

Photo Gallery: Mahoning County Track Meet

“Everything has pretty much been back-to-back since the meet started. I didn’t have a break, so I kind of kept rolling,” Lumsden said. “I started today with the 100, then the 200 right after and then the (4x200 relay) and then it’s been the high jump ever since and then I had to do the (4x400 relay).”

Lumsden beat teammate Ralph Fitzgerald by 0.01 seconds to take the 100. He bested another teammate, Deondre McKeever, in the high jump with a 6-04.00 leap. He reached a new personal best of about 6-6 on Tuesday and tried to repeat the feat Saturday.

“With it being a little colder and windier today, it just didn’t come together the way I thought it would,” Lumsden said.

Lumsden helped his 4x200 relay team take first and the 4x400 relay take third to close out Saturday’s meet. Fitch took the boys Division I competition with 188 points. Runner-up Boardman had 166.

“I told our guys at our meeting this week that Boardman was going to give us a run for our money and not everything really went as planned today,” Fitch boys coach Seth Steiner said. “There were some performances that we thought were sub-par on our end. Some guys had to step up in other events to make sure we secured the win.”

Other first-place finishers from Fitch included Devin Moore in the 110 hurdles, the 4x100, and 4x800 relay teams and shot-putter Brent Fairbanks.

On the girls side in D-I, Falcon freshman Alena Williams secured MVP honors by winning the 100, 400 and was the anchor leg in the winning 4x400 relay. She was also the runner-up in the 200.

“I wasn’t really expecting (the MVP award), but my coaches kept telling me I would (win it),” Williams said.

Fitch girls coach Bob Lape wasn’t surprised to see his star underclassman stand out.

“She’s a stud athlete who works hard,” Lape said. “We knew coming into the meet that she would be one of our top scorers, so it’s just icing on the cake for her to get that. She deserves it and she earned it.”

The Fitch girls won the team portion of the competition decisively with 195 points, while Boardman was second with 164.

South Range took both the boys and girls titles in Division II and there was some late-meet drama on the girls side.

Springfield led South Range by a point heading with just the long jump and the 4x400 relay left. The Raiders won neither event — they only won two the whole day — but mustered enough points to beat the Tigers 138-136.

“It was stressful and we asked a lot of kids to do some different things,” South Range coach Diane Krumpack said. “For example, Xena Maali really put aside trying to get a season best in her races.”

Maali was part of the winning 4x800 relay team while finishing as the runner-up in the 800, 1600 and 3200.

“It’s a hard question,” Maali said when asked about balancing trying to win with pacing herself for other races. “Sometimes I just go off and accept the consequences for the other race, but other times I’ll be prepared and I’ll have my coaches yelling and telling me to adjust in the middle of a race.

Western Reserve’s Ashleigh Rowley was the D-II MVP. The likely nine-time state qualifier won the 800, 1600, 3200 handedly and was the anchor in the winning 4x400 relay.

“She’s an all-timer,” Western Reserve coach Andy Hake said. “She has all the school records, a full ride to YSU and recognition from the state.”

South Range won the D-II boys team title with 141 points and runner-up Springfield had 112. The Tigers mounted a solid challenge as Ethan Nezbeth won the 100 and 200 and was part of the winning 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.

The co-MVPs were Ursuline’s Guy-Michael Kaho and Western Reserve’s Nate Shaffer.

Shaffer took the 300 hurdles and was runner-up in the high jump and 110 hurdles.

“I’m so happy he won. He worked his tail off for years getting himself in shape,” Hake said.

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