by Ken Lahmers
Austintown -- Despite going up against several bigger schools, the Greenmen girls track squad fared well in the Division I district meet, qualifying eight individuals for the regional this week.
Regional action gets under way today (May 23) with preliminaries and a handful of finals, and concludes May 25 at Austintown Fitch High School. The top four in each regional event qualify for the state meet May 31 to June 2 in Columbus.
Aurora finished fourth as a team in the district with 63 points behind Twinsburg (131), Boardman (107) and Poland Seminary (70).
"With us being the smallest Division I school in the meet and competing at that level for only the second year, our finish was extremely satisfying," said coach John Kudley.
Qualifying for AHS were Katie Davidoff and Jen Kaplan in the pole vault, Victoria Meneese in the 200 dash, Alexis Davis in the 1,600, Jill Sweress in the 3,200, Jordan Curtis and Marissa McClung in the high jump and Bri Hall in the discus.
"Meneese had a heavy workload on the first day of competition," Kudley said. "She had to run in six events -- prelims and semis in the 100 and 200 and semis in the 4x200 and 4x100 relays.
"Fighting a strong headwind on both days, she ran well and just missed qualifying in the he 100. She proved she can run with the best, and as a sophomore has two more years to excel in both events."
DAVIDOFF finished second and Kaplan fourth in the pole vault as both cleared the 9-foot level. Their efforts earned Aurora 8 and 5 points, respectively.
Meneese placed fourth in the 400 in 27.86, Davis was fourth in the 1,600 in 5:32.61 and Sweress was third in the 3,200 in 11:53.64.
Curtis and McClung each leaped 4-foot-10 in the high jump to tie for second place and total 14 team points. Hall placed third in the discus with a throw of 110-2.
"Sweress ran a strong 3,200. She was a little nervous at first, but was not intimidated by the competition and ran within her race plan," said Kudley.
The coach said Davis had a great meet. "It was great to see her compete at the level that she did," he said.
"She's been an outstanding distance runner here, having competed in the state meet as a freshman and battling through some health issues the last two. Her effort this year truly demonstrated her talents."
Davis held the school's 3,200 record until it was broken this year by Sweress.
"Hall had a good preliminary round in the discus, which carried her into the finals," said Kudley. "She is still focused on breaking the school record and now has one more opportunity to accomplish her goal."
The coach said McClung and Curtis will face a field of talented jumpers this week.
"Curtis continues to have an outstanding season, while McClung has regained early-season success," he said.
"In the pole vault, Kaplan and Davidoff continue to improve their techniques and have gained confidence in their abilities."
MENEESE JUST missed qualifying for the regional meet in the 100 dash, finishing fifth in 12.22. Davis also just missed qualifying in the 3,200 with a fifth-place finish in 12:04.61.
The 4x800 relay team of Sweress, Davis, Emilie Carroll and Liesel Schmader was edged out as a qualifier, as it placed fifth in 10:14.16, while the 4x400 relay unit of Carroll, Brooke Hradisky, Mariesa Samba and Heather Lucas took seventh in 4:22.8.
"In the 4x400, Carroll and Lucas ran in their last high school meet, and Carroll also ran in the 800," said Kudley. "Carroll is a member of the record-setting 4x800 relay team and ran on the 4x800 team that finished third in the state meet in 2004.
"Lucas has been the cornerstone of our sprint relays, foregoing individual recognition in open events to make us competitive in the relays."
Summing up, Kudley said the overall fourth-place finish was better than last year's sixth place, "and will no doubt improve next year."
The field events which will be completed today begin at 4 p.m., with running preliminaries and finals starting at 4:30 p.m. Admission to the regional meet is $6 per person.
For those wishing to attend, they can take either Interstate-80 (Ohio Turnpike) or I-76 east, then merge onto I-80 east via exit 218 toward Youngstown and merge onto Route 11 south via exit 224A toward Canfield.
They should then take the Mahoning Avenue exit toward Austintown, turn left onto Mahoning Avenue-County Road 18, turn right onto Idaho Road for 1/2-mile and veer left onto Falcon Drive.
Phone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3155