Tallmadge rising junior Lucca Passarelli excelled in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles throughout the spring as a member of the Tallmadge boys track and field team.

So when Passarelli was told he had to run the 400 hurdles since the 300 hurdles does not exist in Amateur Athletic Union competition, it had to be a piece of cake, right?

Well, sort of.

"It was an extra 100 meters of pain," Passarelli said.

No pain, no gain, right?

Passarelli advanced to the Junior Olympics after qualifying in three events at the AAU Regional 4 meet July 1 at Lima Senior High School.

The Junior Olympics are scheduled to take place July 29 to Aug. 5 in Detroit.

Passarelli advanced in the 110 and 400 hurdles and the high jump. He took third in the 110 hurdles in 16.15 seconds and fourth in the 400 hurdles (1:01.54). He also placed third in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 10 inches. The top six performers in each of those events qualified for the Junior Olympics, which features athletes from a number of states.

"I'm really excited," Passarelli said. "It's a huge confidence boost."

Prior to the regional competition, Passarelli excelled at the AAU district competition last month.

He won the 400 hurdles (1:02) and the high jump (6 feet) and took third in the 110 hurdles (15.71).

Passarelli also had a stellar spring season for the Blue Devils.

He qualified for the Division I regional competition in the high jump and also was a stalwart in both the 100 and 300 hurdle races.

"It has been a huge confidence boost," Passarelli said of the AAU regional. "In the 110 hurdles, I made it to the [district] finals and then I did terrible in the finals. In the 300 hurdle [district] final, I didn't qualify by three 10ths of a second."

Although he fell just short of qualifying for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state competition, Tallmadge head boys track and field coach Mike Srodawa was certainly pleased with his star pupil's efforts.

"Lucca had a great season," he said. "He's a hardworking kid. If you ask him to do something, he does it. That says a lot about his character."

Passarelli has leaned on his father, Tom, a Tallmadge graduate who excelled for the University of Akron cross country team, to guide him during the AAU season.

"He has been a big influence on me," Passarelli said.

Passarelli has proved to be quite a natural. This is the first time he competed on the AAU circuit. He also never ran the 400 hurdles until recently.

"You have to run it [the 400 hurdles] differently than the 300 hurdles," Passarelli said. "You have to run the first 200 meters 80 percent and the last 200, 100 percent. It pretty much drains everything from you."

Passarelli may take a break once the Junior Olympics end. But he doesn't expect to sit around too long.

The indoor track season begins in November. And now that he has made significant strides during the summer, the sky is the limit for Passarelli.

"I think I can get to states in all three," Passarelli said.

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