The Stow-Munroe Falls girls track and field squad had some breakthrough performances at the league championships as the Bulldogs dive into district action.
Stow placed fifth overall with 60 points at the loaded Suburban League National Conference Championships May 8 and 10 at Nordonia's Boliantz Stadium.
"We did not have a lot of surprises at the conference meet, but we did have some nice performances," said head coach Aaron Morris.
Nordonia won the team crown 143-127 over Twinsburg, which features the top sprinters in the league. Hudson was third (112 points), followed by Wadsworth (98) and Stow.
"We ended up fifth just like we did in the dual meet portion of the season," said Morris.
Stow was also set to compete at Nordonia for the Division I District Championships, which concluded Friday. The top four placers in each even at districts advance to the Austintown Fitch Division I Regional Championships May 23 and May 25.
Sophomore Aimee Grimm had a sensational league meet.
Grimm registered a pair of runner-up finishes in the hurdle races, which isn't easy to do in the Suburban League.
"Aimee had a great meet," said Morris. "She dropped over two seconds in the 300 hurdles between the two days competition."
"She (Grimm) has herself ranked in the top three in the region (in the 300-meter race) and she also timed below 16 seconds in the 100 hurdles," added the coach. "That is a great trend to see for her."
With a brisk clocking of 45.97 seconds, Grimm took second in the 300-meter hurdles. In the 100-meter hurdles, Grimm posted a time of 15.94 seconds.
Peyton Balawender finished fourth overall in the league in the pole vault as she equaled her season best of 9 feet.
"Last year, Peyton did clear 9-3 (feet) at districts and that is her best," said Morris, of his versatile junior athlete. "She has cleared 9 feet so far this year."
Senior Tessa Pitcovich battled to place fifth overall in the 1,600-meter race with a time of 5 minutes, 26.75 seconds.
Morris has used Pitcovich in a few different distance races in her career.
"I think Tessa's best event this year is the 3,200 meters," said Morris said. "She (Pitcovich) is battling some discomfort in her leg so we will be racing her sparingly from here on out. We will be focusing her on the 3,200-meter event from here on out."
Still hobbled by a hamstring injury, freshman prospect Paige Neely also contributed.
Neely ran fifth in the 100-meter dash in 12.55 seconds and crossed seventh in the open 400-meter race with a mark of 1:01.07.
"Paige looks to be on the road to recovery," said Morris. "She has been able to make it through her races without too much discomfort or pain from her season-long injury.
"Her 100-meter dash time is improving rapidly and her 400 open time has been consistently in the 60-61-second range."
Morris was excited to see a 58-second split in the 400 meters when Neely ran her leg in the seventh-place 1,600-meter relay team.
"That split is encouraging moving onto districts," said Morris.
Stow's 3,200-meter relay ran fifth in the league in 10:04.70 behind Izzy Samels, Abby Kuhns, Shelby Gluth, and Mackenzie Cassiday.
Senior Katie Dunn placed sixth in the discus with a throw of 117 feet, 2 inches. Teammate Katie Hall was seventh at 109-4 feet.
"Katie Dunn continues to throw the discus over 115-feet, which should place her well in the district meet," said Morris. "She also threw a career best 33-feet in the shot put at the league meet."
"We are going to miss Dunn greatly next year," added Morris. "Her ability and leadership combination has been one of the best in any athlete that I've had the fortune to coach.
In the high jump, Stow had a sixth and seventh-place finish, respectively, by Carly Feckley and Armoni Prewitt. Both athletes reached 4-9 feet.
Sophi Perez ran seventh in the 3,200-meter race as she too is trying to return to complete health. The senior was timed at 11:57.35.
The Lady Bulldogs had seventh- and eighth-place efforts in the long jump from Maddie Merlene and Balawender, respectively.
Merlene was seventh as the veteran had a leap of 16-5.5 feet. Balawender was eighth with a jump of 16-1.5 feet.
Zeitman added eighth-place races in the 100 (12.96) and 200-meter (27.45) dashes, and ran in the sixth-place 400 relay (52.40) with Merlene, Grimm, and Rachel Sommer.
Cassiday placed eighth overall in the 1,600-merter race (5:36.68) and the seventh-place 1,600 relay (4:13.86) had Grimm, Veronica Anohkin, Kuhns, and Neely.
Dunn scored in the shot put (33-3.5 feet) as she was eighth, just in front of Hall (32-5.25 feet).
Making up the eighth-place 800 relay (1:52.74) was Samels, Sommer, Merlene, and Zeitman.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_RPC