by Frank Aceto

Associate Sports Editor

Everyone wants to defend her title.

Tallmadge veteran head girls track and field coach Mike Srodawa, however, gladly accepted his team's finish May 19.

The Lady Blue Devils placed third with 63 points at the Division II District Meet, which concluded May 19.

Beloit West Branch won the competition with 94 points and Canton Central Catholic placed second (83).

"We were district champs last year, but our numbers were down and we dealt with some injuries," Srodawa said. "Third place is a great finish."

Liz Leuptow qualified in the 100-meter dash with a third-place time of 13.22 seconds. She also finished fourth in the 200 (28.08) and joined Rachelle Paisley, Amanda Bennett and Karley DeLorenzo on the winning 800 relay team (1:51.2).

Leuptow, Emily Walker, Bennett and DeLorenzo guided the 400 relay team to third place (53.14). The top four performers in each event and top four relays teams reached the Ravenna Regional Meet, which was scheduled to conclude May 26.

"Liz had an excellent day," Srodawa said. "She qualified in four events and we've only had a handful of girls do that in school history."

The 800 relay gave Srodawa a glimpse of what was to come in the preliminaries. But something peculiar happened right before the race.

"We were expecting to get out, but we knew we could win it after the preliminaries," Srodawa said. "There was a little bit of a mix-up right before the race. This district has a strict time schedule. The girls thought they had more time. We had to get all the girls together at the last second."

Also qualifying were Walker in the pole vault (second, 9 feet); Julie Protich in the shot put (second, 36-11); Becky Judeh in the pole vault (third, 7-0); and Labosky in the 400 (fourth, 1:02.48).

The pole vault gave the Lady Blue Devils a large number of points.

"Emily has been steady all year," Srodawa said. "Becky had a personal-best throw."

Protich had a personal-best toss in the shot put.

"Julie broke her personal best by more than a foot," Srodawa said. "She was a little disappointed in the discus. Entering the regionals, she has the second best throw in the shot."

Labosky, a distance runner in the past, has made huge strides in the 400.

"Elizabeth only ran the open 400 one other time," Srodawa said. "She ran seventh in the prelims and ran a personal-best 1:02.4 in the finals. She dropped her personal best by more than a second."

Also placing in the top eight for Tallmadge were DeLorenzo in the 100 (sixth, 13.62); Paisley in the 300 hurdles (sixth, 50.32) and the 3,200 relay of Tricia Craig, Andrea Stadelman, Jamie Buehler and Labosky (sixth, 10:26.73).

The remaining Tallmadge girls expected to see some stiff competition at the regional meet.

"We've been down to Lexington in the past and that was tough," Srodawa said. "But I think Ravenna is even tougher."

Three boys qualify

Srodawa had some good news about the Division I Austintown Fitch Regional, which was scheduled to conclude May 25.

"If you come out of Fitch, you will get on the podium at the state meet," he said.

Srodawa also had some bad news.

"Fitch is a real meat grinder," he said. "It's the hardest of them all."

Three Tallmadge boys got a chance to compete at Fitch after their performance at the Fitch District, which concluded May 18. Tallmadge finished eighth with 27 points.

Youngstown Boardman won the competition with 133.5 points and Warren Harding (96) and Twinsburg (77) finished second and third, respectively.

Aaron Warner placed third in the pole vault with a vault of 10 feet, 6 inches.

The top four performers in each event and top four relay teams advanced to the regional competition.

"Aaron has been really coming on at the end of the season," Srodawa said. "He has been clearing 12 feet. He's going to need to jump 13, 13-6 to get out of regionals. But it's a great experience to be there."

The 3,200-meter relay team of Steven Haury, Phillip Polefrone, Jon Lampley and Matt Bauch placed third with a time of 8 minutes, 37.1 seconds.

"All those guys are coming back next year," Srodawa said. "They're going to have to run 20 seconds faster than they've run all year at regionals. It's a good learning experience for them."

Victor Petrella also qualified with a fourth-place time in the 300 hurdles (40.49).

"Victor ran a great race," Srodawa said. "He dropped time off his personal best both days."

Others who placed in the top eight were as follows:

800 relay: sixth, 1:35.27

800: Bauch, eighth, 2:06.43

1,600: Lampley, sixth, 4:36.56; and Steve Haury, seventh, 4:43.55

Discus: Matt Seagren, eighth, 133-9

E-mail: faceto@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3914