Since his team is young and doesn’t have the depth of some of its more talented conference rivals, Cuyahoga Falls head boys track and field coach Dieter Keller will take progress anywhere he can get it.
Fortunately for Keller, his team made some significant strides against a certain archrival.
The host Black Tigers lost to Stow-Munroe Falls 75-44 Tuesday at the Laybourne Sports Complex. Falls dropped to 0-6 in the conference. However, Keller had no sour feelings about how his athletes performed.
"It was as expected for the most part," he said. "It could have helped if we could have long jumped, but we performed really well. I was not unhappy at all. We’re just not deep enough in the sprints."
Due to the wet conditions, the long jump and the pole vault were not contested.
As has been the case for the Black Tigers throughout the season, the distance runners shined.
Bronson Luksza and Jack Wilcoxson finished in a tie for first in the 1,600-meter race with a time of 4:44. Luksza also won the 800 in 2:05 and Wilcoxson anchored the winning 3,200 relay (8:41). Joining Luksza on the 3,200 relay were Tony Sondles, Jay Wilson and Anthony Nichols.
Wilson added a win in the 3,200 with a personal-best 10:17.
"The distance did well," Keller said. "The distance has been strong all year.
"The 3,200 was a great race and a great time for Jay. He has been a little sore. He was bothered by his hip.
"He still got a PR (personal record) by 12 seconds. We plan to rest him. We’re hoping he can come back at league and districts and get under 10 minutes."
Matt Hammonds made it a clean sweep in the 1,600 as he took third in 4:49.
The 1,600 relay team of Isaiah Campbell, Luksza, Sondles and Wilcoxson crossed the finish line first in 3:43.
Dylon Campbell placed second (52.6) in the 400 and Jacob Carlton (personal-best 17.4) and Michael Brustoski (personal-best 46.2) each finished third in the 100 and 300 hurdles, respectively.
"We’re finally getting hurdlers who are scoring consistently in every meet," Keller said. "They are sophomores and hurdling takes a lot of technique and learning, but they are looking better. It’s a confidence booster.
"Jacob broke the 18-second mark. If we can get him in the 16s, that would be an accomplishment. It’s nice to see our hurdlers coming back. That makes me happy."
Wilson captured second in the long jump with a leap of 5 feet, 8 inches and Ryan Freeman was the runner-up (142-2) in the discus.
Falls lost three National Conference meets last Saturday at Nordonia High School’s Boliantz Stadium in Macedonia.
The Black Tigers were defeated by the host Knights (104-33), Hudson (95-42) and Brecksville-Broadview Heights (77-60).
The four teams got together due to cancellations of their previous conference meets.
"I loved it," Keller said. "Nordonia has a beautiful track and it was run really smoothly. Guys who never ran an invitational got to experience the feeling of running in an invitational."
Wilcoxson led the way with a second-place 800 time of 2:01.21. He also was the runner-up in the 1,600 (4:30.79).
Also capturing second was Jordan Williams, who had a leap of 20-3 in the long jump, and Freeman in the discus (136-10).
Wilson finished in a tie for third with a leap of 5-6 in the high jump.
The 400 relay team of Daizhaun Brazile, Eric Rosiak, Scott Smith and Williams captured fourth in 46.95 seconds.
Also finishing fourth was the 1,600 relay of Dylon Campbell, Hammonds, Sondles and Wilcoxson (3:42.93), the 3,200 team of Hammonds, Dylon Campbell, Andrew Kuntz and Luksza (8:35.16) and Isaiah Campbell in the long jump (19-9.75).
Dylon Campbell placed fifth in the 400 in 53.2 seconds. Nichols added a fifth in the 1,600 (4:37.51) and Carlton finished fifth in the 110 hurdles (18 seconds).
Blake Ross also placed fifth in the discus (127-3).
Taking sixth was Luksza in the 3,200 (10:22.59) and Rosiak in the high jump (5-2).
"We scored well against Brecksville and Hudson," Keller said. "Nordonia is pretty strong all around. Our passes are getting clean in the relays."
The Black Tigers are scheduled to compete at the Bulldog Invitational this Saturday at Poland Seminary High School. The invitational is set to begin at 9 a.m.
They are scheduled to visit conference foe North Royalton next Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Falls is set to compete at the Optimist May 5 at Austintown-Fitch High School. The competition is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
"North Royalton is down, so we’re going to go after them," Keller said. "We want to get a Suburban League win and go to the league meet and beat a couple of schools."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.