East’s Bowers wins two titles
Canfield’s Copploe defeats local rival
By Brian Dzenis
Whenever East needed a little something extra from its athletes, they delivered.
Both its girls and boys track athletes were able to get that edge necessary to reach the state meet on Friday at Austintown Fitch.
The girls side picked up the most medals of any area team at the Divison I regional with two titles, plus state qualifiers in three other events. The 4x100 relay team of Jahniya Bowers, Kyndia Matlock, DeShante Allen and Johnae Coleman beat runner-up Twinsburg by just 0.06 seconds, with Matlock leaning over the finish line.
“I was disappointed in the [third place] 4x200 and I just had to do this for the team,” Matlock said. “I didn’t want to let the Twinsburg girl catch me again. She caught up to me, but my whole mindset was coming in first.”
The Golden Bears’ time of 47.76 seconds is a school record. The race was the second of Bowers’ two regional titles after previously winning the 100. She left Fitch with four medals around her neck, having qualified for state in the 4x200 relay and 200.
“It feels good. It makes me feel like I did something this year,” Bowers said. “I’ve been working and the work paid off.”
Allen made state in the long jump with just two jumps counting. Her leap of 16-09.25 on her fourth attempt stood even as she fouled her last two jumps.
“I could have done better, but I qualified,” Allen said. “I wasn’t even mad. I had a feeling I would qualify.”
Giovanni Washington is the lone male athlete for East in Columbus after he was able to shave roughly a second off his preliminary time from Wednesday to snatch fourth and a final bid in the 100. Washington transferred to East from Warren Harding this year and has a little more than three months running track in his career.
“It came with a lot of hard work. My times dropped tremendously,” Washington said. “I had to learn how to come out of blocks.”
The decision to join the track team came with some prodding from his uncle and coach, Kevin Cylar.
“There was a little persuasion. I had to let him know that it would be good for him,” Cylar said. “I told him [to run track] if you want college scouts to look at you. I know Gio is fast, but he needs to let the state know that he’s fast.”
Canfield had to wait until the final races to find out if the Cardinals were sending anyone to Columbus. Giovanni Copploe took the 3200 to ensure his school extended its state-qualifier streak to 16 consecutive years. To win, he bested Howland’s Vincent Mauri — his friend and running nemesis — for the first time this season in either track or cross country. Mauri took second and is the Tigers’ lone representative in Columbus.
“It was a pretty stacked field, so I was nervous coming into the race,” Copploe said. “My game plan was just going out with them and then in that fifth, sixth or seventh lap just hang on to just whatever I’ve got.”
Austintown Fitch’s Lauren Dolak won the 800 after making a strong push from third place to first on the final lap. Boardman freshman Raegan Burkey is her school’s lone state qualifer after taking fourth in the 800.