With Tallmadge senior Lucca Passarelli and freshman Riley Murphy qualifying for the Division II State Track and Field Meet in the high jump, it is the first time in school history that two Blue Devils advanced to state in the same event.
"Both Lucca and Riley are coachable kids," Tallmadge head coach Mike Srodawa said. "They both work really hard. They never question anything we tell them. I couldn’t be prouder of both of them."
Passarelli and Murphy qualified for the state meet with their performances at the Austintown Fitch regional meet, which concluded last Saturday.
Passarelli finished second with a leap of 6 feet, 4 inches. Murphy also reached 6-4 to place fourth.
The top four finishers in each event qualified for the state meet. Two at-large state berths combined with the other three Division I regionals were also awarded.
The competition is scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University. Passarelli and Murphy are set to jump June 1 at 9:30 a.m.
Murphy will be the only freshman in Division II competing in the high jump this weekend.
"I was very happy with fourth place," Murphy said. "I really didn’t expect it to go as well as it did."
"To make it to state in any year is big, but to make it as a freshman is a huge accomplishment," Srodawa said. "Riley is an overall really good athlete. He picks up things really quick. I’ll explain something to him and he picks up on it. He’s very coachable."
Murphy is aware that he will be facing a hornet’s nest in Columbus.
"There are going to be some pretty good jumpers down there," he said.
A berth in the state meet is something Passarelli has been working very hard to achieve.
"Lucca puts in a lot of extra time and works on his own during the summer," Srodawa said. "He and his dad do an extensive AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] schedule, so he jumps in multiple meets. He has been to nationals before.
"It’s just that things hadn’t really fallen into place at Division II for various reasons. And last year, he had some back issues. So this is the first year where he’s been healthy, and I couldn’t be happier for him."
"I was happy with second place, but I wish I’d have gotten 6-5 because I’d have beaten the kid from Coventry [Austin Hinzman]," Passarelli said. "I’m going to Columbus to win, but the podium would be nice. If I jump what I know I can, I have a have a shot at the top three."
"I think both Lucca and Riley have a really good shot of making the podium," Srodawa said. "There are a bunch of kids who are all grouped in that 6-3, 6-4, 6-5 area. They’re right in the hunt."
Tallmadge finished 11th in the team standings with 23 points. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy won the 40-team competition with 57 points. Salem finished second with 54 points and Youngstown East took third with 44 points.
"I thought, as a team, we did very well," Srodawa said. "It has been a while since we’ve had as high as an 11th-place finish at regionals. We had multiple kids walking away with medals, so that’s always a good thing. I think the program is taking a step in the right direction."
Senior Jason Grassie finished sixth in the shot put with a throw of 46-5 ¾. Sophomore Eli Zander finished eighth with a toss of 44-11 ¾.
Passarelli placed seventh in both the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.86 seconds and the 300 hurdles with a time of 43.66.
Also finishing seventh was sophomore Tommy Naiman with a clocking of 10:33.38 in the 3,200.
Senior Garrett Ansley placed 10th in the pole vault with a height of 12 feet, and Zander captured 11th in the discus with a throw of 138-4.