For much of Scott Barwidi's tenure, the Nordonia track teams have been fixtures at the state meet.

Thanks to solid performances May 24 and 26 at the Division I regional track meet at Austintown Fitch, seven Knights are bound for Columbus.

"Things went fairly well for us at the regional meet," said Barwidi. "We moved on in [events] where we thought we had a chance to move on. We'll go at it next weekend."

The Nordonia girls finished third in the team race at Austintown with 42 team points. Twinsburg won the team title with 60 points, while Solon was second with 53.

While noting he didn't worry about team placement at regionals, Barwidi said it was no shock to see Twinsburg win the title after the Knights had beaten the Tigers at both the Suburban League and district meets.

"They've got some pretty good sprinters and they've got good distance runners," Barwidi said of the Tigers. "It doesn't surprise me at all."

More importantly for Barwidi, the Knight girls advanced to states in five events. Junior Aja DuVall reached states in the 100-meter dash, while junior Faith Banks advanced in the 400 and junior Carmen Licht advanced in the 800.

Licht, DuVall, Banks and freshman Lizzie Imrie joined forces to advance in the 800-meter relay, while Licht, DuVall, Banks and Lizzie Gurko were able to advance in the 1,600-meter relay.

The top four placers in each event at Austintown advanced to the Division I state meet, which will take place June 2 and 3 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.

Meanwhile, in the boys team race, Nordonia finished with 15 team points, claiming a three-way tie for 15th place with Twinsburg and North Canton Hoover. Canton GlenOak won the boys team title with 58 points.

Two Nordonia boys were able to advance to the state meet: Senior Ray Kovalchick in the pole vault and senior Andrew Wahl in the 400-meter dash.

Kovalchick was Nordonia's first state qualifier, as the boys pole vault competition took place May 24. Conditions were cold, wet and windy, which Barwidi said made for a "terrible day" for vaulting.

Those conditions might have kept Kovalchick from equaling his school-record 15-foot vault, which he accomplished at districts. However, Kovalchick's best vault of 14 feet was good for second place behind Hoover's Matt Peare (14-feet-4).

"He's having a good end to the season," Barwidi said. "This was a kid that, as a freshman, made 8 feet in the pole vault. He's always looking to improve to get better."

Meanwhile, Banks took second in the 400 in 56.2 seconds, finishing only behind Mentor's Emma Lane (54.92).

"This is the third straight year that she got to states in the 400. She wants to challenge for a state title," Barwidi said, noting Banks was fifth in the state last year in the 400.

Banks also qualified for the finals in the 200-meter dash, but finished eighth in 26.23 seconds.

Barwidi noted Licht has been the lynchpin of Nordonia's relay crew, but he was excited to see her reach states in the 800.

Licht finished third in the 800 with a time of 2:16.35. She advanced to states in the 800 after reaching Columbus in the 400 as a freshman.

Barwidi noted DuVall has made tremendous progress in the 100, as she finished third in a time of 12.59 seconds.

"She has really worked hard to make some time up," Barwidi said. "She wasn't even a regional qualifier last year in the 100."

DuVall also qualified for regionals in the 200-meter dash, but her preliminary time of 26.43 did not advance her to the final.

The girls 1,600-meter relay team took third place in 3:56.45. In the 800-meter relay, the Knights' quartet finished in fourth place in 1:43.11.

Wahl may have qualified for states in the most dramatic fashion. Wahl dove over the finish line in the 400-meter final, snatching fourth place in a personal-record time of 49.66 seconds. Barwidi noted Wahl shaved nearly half a second off his best time.

Wahl also ran as part of the Nordonia boys' 1,600-meter relay team, which took seventh place in 3:32.25.

Gurko also ran in the 1,600-meter run at Austintown and finished on the podium, taking eighth place in 5:23.39.

Sophomore thrower Sarah Shedroff fell just short of her first trip to states in the shot put May 24. Shedroff finished fifth in the shot put with a heave of 37 feet, 1.5 inches. She was just 8.5 inches behind Brecksville's Krista Okekfor for the final qualifying spot.

Shedroff also competed in the discus competition May 6. He best throw of 113-feet-7 was good for 10th place.

The girls 3,200-relay team finished in sixth place in 9:42.49. The team included Gurko, Licht, Kayla Vasarhelyi and Gina Eterovich.

Senior jumper Sunny Starcher finished her career with a podium finish. Starcher was able to finish seventh in the long jump with a leap of 16-feet-1.75 May 26.

It was an improvement for Starcher on her performance May 24 in the high jump, where she finished 10th with a jump of 5-feet-1.

In the girls pole vault, sophomore Grace Coghill finished off the podium, as she took 15th place with a vault of 9-feet-6.

The worst piece of news for Nordonia May 26 came from senior hurdler Spencer Coppedge. After qualifying for the finals in both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, Coppedge suffered a hamstring injury in the 110-meter finals and did not finish. He was able to compete in the 300 hurdles' final.

"He hurt his hamstring and he simply could not go," Barwidi said. "It's devastating because he had worked so hard to put himself in position to run for states.

Barwidi said there should be no pressure on his athletes heading into states.

"We're going to keep the same thing going that we have all year," Barwidi said. "We're just going to try to reach the final on Saturday and see what happens. That's how we'll roll."


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