Naiman breaks record in Tallmadge track's season opener

Roger Gordon
Correspondent
Tallmadge Blue Devils

It was quite a day for Tommy Naiman April 3 at the Newton Falls Tiger Invitational. The Tallmadge senior track and field athlete captured first place in two events, and one of them was a meet record.

Naiman’s meet-record time in the 1,600-meter run was 4 minutes, 36.32 seconds. His time in the 3,200 was 10:13.25.

The Blue Devils also won the overall competition, made up of 17 teams, with 118 points.

“Tommy has been working extremely hard in this offseason and has some goals that he’s set for where he wants to be at the end of the season,” Tallmadge head coach Mike Srodawa said. “This was just one step in that process. Tommy has been working right from the end of cross country to now. He’s doing the work.

“He’s improved a great deal since he was a sophomore. His work ethic has improved a bunch, too, and that goes with him being older and more of a leader now.

“Massillon Jackson was at Newton Falls, Copley was there, Field was there, so there were some good distance teams there.”

Three days later, on April 6, Naiman won the 800-meter run with a time of 2:03 in the Blue Devils’ 76-61 victory at Suburban League American Conference rival Aurora. He also finished second in the 1,600 with a clocking of 4:33.

“Tommy’s time in the 800 was really fast for this early in the season,” said Srodawa. “He’s an extreme competitor. He looks forward to running against great competition, which Aurora has. They have a really good team.”

Naiman will continue both is track and field and cross country exploits in college at John Carroll University in University Heights.

“Tommy is going to a great program,” Srodawa said. “John Carroll’s cross country program is known across the country for competing not only against other Division III teams but some Division I and II programs as well. Tommy should do just fine. He’s already been running with some of the guys on their team.”

As for the Tallmadge girls track and field team, one of the early-season team leaders is junior Mia Hurst.

In the meet at Aurora, a 77-60 defeat, Hurst captured the 300 hurdles with a time of 52.7. She also finished second in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet, 9 inches. She was part of the 800 and 400 relay teams as well.

“That was Mia’s first time doing the long jump and only her second time running the 300 hurdles, with her first time coming at Newton Falls,” said Srodawa, also the girls head coach. “She had some really good races in her legs of the relays. Her 100 time in the 400 relay was good.”

In the meet at Newton Falls, in which Tallmadge placed seventh out of 16 teams with 43 points, Hurst finished sixth in the 300 hurdles with a time of 54.03.

“Mia is a great athlete, is extremely fast,” Srodawa said. “We put her in a different event looking at what’s going to benefit her down the road.

“The fact that she hadn’t done the 300 hurdles before this year and is already running the times she’s running now says a lot about her coachability and willingness to put in the work. The technique in that race … it’s one of the toughest races in track because it’s almost a full lap and it’s got hurdles. She’s picked up on that really well. She picks up on things really, really quick.

“Mia is an ultra-competitor. She actually looks forward to running against really, really good competition.”

Also at Newton Falls, Hurst was part of the third-place 400 relay team that had a time of 54.06. She was also part of the fifth-place 800 relay team that had a clocking of 1:55.15.

Srodawa could tell two years ago that Hurst, who plans on competing in track and field in college, was going to be a team leader.

“As a junior, she definitely is,” he said. “She makes sure that the team is focused, and she’s also our biggest cheerleader as far as cheering on everybody who runs. She’s one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet, too.”

How far does Hurst’s coach think she can go come the postseason?

“The sky’s the limit,” he said. “If she keeps progressing the way she has been in the 300 hurdles and the long jump plus as part of the 800 and 400 relays, I can see her going pretty far.”