Twinsburg girls track looks to return to Ohio's elite

Steve Batko
Correspondent

Even Sarah Kmet has a few more questions than answers for her Twinsburg girls track and field squad.

After all, the fourth-year Tiger head coach experienced a lost season in 2019 due to COVID-19.

Kmet, entering her 14th year as a coach in the program, is eager to gain more in-depth insight on the club’s athletes and younger performers.

“Having lost last season, we never got a true look at what is now the sophomore class,” said Kmet. “Like all spring sports programs, half of our program has no high school experience.”

Twinsburg Tigers

Like all area teams, Twinsburg’s coaching staff is busy studying their personnel and making determinations that will likely spill into the regular season.

Safety protocols and possible scheduling changes are also a focus.

“We maintain small training groups based on events, as in previous years,” explained Kmet. “Athletes maintain distance and wear masks except when actively running.”

In 2019, Twinsburg placed fifth in Ohio and captured its third straight regional team championship in Division I with a school record of 76 points scored.

Most of those athletes have graduated.

Over the years, an impressive array of Tiger athletes have reached the collegiate track arena and while that may have subsided a bit, the talent pool is still present.

Twinsburg has a solid cast to start with when the club opens the spring slate March 31 at Nordonia at 4 p.m.

According to Kmet, some of the top returnees include junior Sophie Besett (sprinter, sprint relays), junior Akira Johnson (sprinter, sprint relays), junior Rana Thornton (sprinter, sprint relays), senior Katie Vasiliauskas (distance races), senior Nighyah Carthen (throws), junior Paris Gosha-Foreman (sprinter, sprint relays), junior Ciera Tragis (throws) and junior Sydnee Donegan (jumps).

“Sophie, Akira, Rana and Paris competed at the state indoor meet earlier this month and finished eighth overall,” said Kmet.

That group of sprinters ran eighth overall in the 800-meter relay with a time of 1-minute and 49.29 seconds.

Johnson also ran 20th in the 60-meter dash at the indoor state meet.

Both Thornton and Johnson ran legs in Twinsburg’s regional runner-up 400-meter relay in 2019. The relay was 12th in Ohio.

The entire junior cast of sprinters will also make an impact in the open 100- and 200-meter races as well as the relays.

Besett also ran in cross country so she can also possibly help in middle distance races as well.

Vasiliauskas has committed to run at John Carroll University and was a regional qualifier in 2019 as a member of the Tiger’s 3,200-meter relay. She can also be used in a host of open distance races as well.

Carthen is a veteran thrower that has tremendous experience and Tragis also has sound experience for the Tigers.

Donegan is a great athlete who will score in the high jump and long jump. She can also help in the sprint relays as well.

Kmet believes this season will be challenging to project early until area teams get some meets under their belt.

“I think this season will also be hard to predict, as half our squad has never competed in high school,” she explained. “We have a talented coaching staff and I am confident we will get our athletes where they need to be when it matters in May.”

Twinsburg’s veteran coaching staff includes Anthony Byrd (boys head coach, throwing events), Derek McKinley (sprints, long jump), Danee Pinckney (sprints, long jump), Chuck Glover (sprints, high jump), Gus Crichton (distance, throws), and Roger Buell (pole vault). Kmet instructs the distance runners.

The Tiger’s meet at Nordonia will also open up league play in the Suburban League National Conference.

“I expect we will contend for the league championship,” said Kmet, whose club hosts league foe Cuyahoga Falls April 7 in the home opener. The first two meets against Nordonia and Falls begin at 4 p.m.

In addition, Twinsburg will compete in a host of large weekend meets – including the Medina Relays April 10, the GlenOak Invitational April 17, the Amherst Steele Comet Relays April 24 and the Austintown Fitch Optimist Invitational May 1.