Kicking into gear
Falcons on track for success in postseason
AUSTINTOWN — With the end of the regular season fast approaching, Austintown Fitch has plenty to be optimistic about as it continues to prepare for the track & field postseason.
The Falcons racked up another meet victory on Saturday as the Fitch boys got points in the final two events at the 40th Optimist Meet at Austintown Fitch High School.
Senior thrower JaMeire Robinson hit 176-6 on his final attempt in the discus and the boys 4×400 relay team placed fifth in the final event to give Fitch a two-point advantage over Stow-Munroe Falls to end the afternoon.
The meet featured tough competition from all across northeast Ohio with teams like Stow, Alliance, Chardon and Marlington sending teams.
“This was a meet that we’ve been excited about all year,” Falcons coach Seth Steiner said. “We like to defend our own turf whenever we get the chance, and especially in a big meet like the Optimist when you get a ton of talent coming in.
“We actually rested some of our top guys today. As we get closer to districts, our goal is to make sure everybody’s 100 percent healthy and ready to roll.”
Nate Leskovac, the team’s top high jumper, and Kyree Long, the team’s top hurdler, were both absent from Saturday’s meet.
Other athletes stepped, however, as the Falcons had two top-10 finishers in the 110 hurdles and the high jump. Sophomore Nick Tibolla (16.11) placed sixth in the 110 hurdles and Jaymes Soles tied for ninth with Western Reserve junior David Altiere with a 16.29.
Both Adam Emerick and Brody Herman claimed the sixth-place spot for the high jump, clearing six feet.
That ability to step up and fill a role will be crucial for the Falcons as the season continues and the stakes get higher.
“I think it’s just a really big confidence booster for our team to see what we’re capable of even when we don’t have our top guys in the lineup,” Steiner said. “Some young guys stepped in at the very last minute, we made some changes to our 4×100 where we had two freshmen and the sophomore in there at the last minute, and we came away with the win which was really exciting.”
Looking ahead, the Falcons only have one more regular season competition before the All-American Conference championships on May 11. On Friday, Fitch will compete as a part of the Euclid Relays which will feature some of the top competition statewide. Steiner thinks these final two meets before the postseason will provide the perfect preparation for districts.
“(Euclid) did a really good job of putting that thing together and getting some of the top teams across the state there,” he said. “We’re going to kind of pick and choose what events we’re going to load up at that meet, because our goal is to go into the postseason healthy. We’re not going to load up and you know, risk giving anybody any setbacks.
“Same thing goes for the conference meet the following week. I think that would be a nice little matchup. Now Boardman has a pretty talented team this year and they gave us a little scare at the county meet. I think we’re excited to get another taste of those guys as well.”
One of the most exciting parts of his team, according to Steiner, is that they know they can be a dangerous team, but they also know how tough winning in the postseason is going to be.
“I think we’re gaining confidence as we go and we’re starting to realize that we are a pretty dangerous team,” he said. “Winning any type of titles, like the district championship or regional championship at the Division I level is never ever easy, no matter how good you are, and I think our guys realize that, which is important.”
There’s no extra gear for the Falcons, however, as they’ve been at top speed all season. It’s just a matter of everyone being healthy in the postseason.
“We train hard all year,” Steiner said. “It’s not one of those things where we need to gear up and train harder now, like, we’re ready, we just want to make sure we’re healthy and go into that thing at full-strength and see what we’re capable of doing.”
Some other area teams that also competed in Saturday’s meet were Harding, Crestview, Ursuline, McDonald and Poland.
Nick Plant of Canfield won the 1600 meter run with a time of 4:21.45 and was followed by Spencer Bush of South Range who had a 4:24.84. Plant also won the 800 meter run with a time of 1:53.90. Andrew Biggs of Poland and South Range’s Michael Hvizdos rounded out the top three.
Crestview senior Brandon Yanssens won the 400 meter dash with a time of 51.17. Krista Perry, also of Crestview, won the shot put with a score of 38-even.
Niles senior Chante Clinkscale won both the 100 and 200 meter dashes with times of 11.95 and 24.27, respectively.