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Ohio coaches honor Fitch coach Steiner

Austintown Fitch boys track coach Seth Steiner

Some snow fell on the ground, at least a couple of times. That brisk air got a bit colder.

It didn’t matter to Austintown Fitch coach Seth Steiner, his assistant coaches or athletes. They went indoors, sped through the hallways. Yes, running inside the school is permitted at this time, after school is done for the day.

Preparation for the orchestrated mass chaos which is indoor track and field continued. The Falcons ultimately looked forward to the spring-based outdoor season starting in late March.

Steiner, who is Fitch’s boys track and field coach, is being honored Friday in Columbus at the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches banquet as the Fred Dafler Career State Coach of the Year in boys track and field.

Surprised? You could say that.

He received an email from OATCCC official Diane Krumpak, saying he was up for the award last year.

Steiner forgot about that until he received this year’s electronic correspondence.

“I was like, ‘Whoa. There we go,'” Steiner said.

He’s the third area coach to receive this particular award. Frank Rahde (Lordstown) won the award in 2004, while Tony Buttar (John F. Kennedy) claimed the honor in 1993.

Steiner, who has been the boys coach since 2015, set forth a winning culture at Austintown Fitch. He was the girls varsity coach from 2013-14. During his time at Fitch, there have been 31 school records broken, 51 Mahoning County champions, 32 district champions, four regional champions, 29 outdoor state qualifiers, 68 indoor state qualifiers, 27 all-Ohio indoor state performers, 13 Federal League champions, 50 All-American Conference champions and 13 all-Ohio outdoor state performers.

Steiner said it’s because his athletes and staff adhere to top-notch standards that the Fitch program is so strong every year.

“We have a staff that they’ve bought in,” Steiner said. “As a coach, I lay the foundation of what I want it to be. All the assistant coaches are all in. They like what the program is about, how it’s set up. Having assistant coaches that are buying in, it trickles down to the athletes.

“We have such a good culture of track and field in Austintown, so many people outside the staff that really support the sport. That’s really the key to our success. We don’t have problems recruiting kids coming out for track. We’re good at the middle school level and they continue that on once they get to high school.”

Fitch has markers during outdoor season, leading up to the state meet in Columbus in early June. Every year, he hopes plenty of his athletes are heading to the state capital to showcase their talent against the other elite competitors around Ohio.

The Falcons know they have to get past Boardman to win this year’s Mahoning County championship in April for a title the boys see as continuing their decade-long dominance. The focus is on an All-American Conference Red Tier title in May. The push to state begins by honing in on a district title.

Fitch wants to fill a bus to Columbus, qualifying plenty out of the regional. It’s better than a small group qualifying to state.

“They always take note that it’s so much more enjoyable when they have that big group like they did last year and the year before,” Steiner said. “Those kids that are back from the previous year, they make sure they go after the rest of their team. It’s not going to be one or two kids this year, we’re all going down. Let’s make sure it happens.”

It’s part of the winning culture surrounding the Austintown Fitch track and field program.