Stow girls track feeling good after Optimist Meet

Steve Batko
Correspondent
Stow-Munroe Falls Bulldogs

Stow-Munroe Falls' girls track and field team put up some impressive marks at one of the area’s most prestigious and largest events at the 40th annual Optimist Meet.

A slew of athletes for veteran head coach Aaron Morris posted season best or personal best marks at Austintown Fitch.

The Bulldogs placed fourth out of a robust 30-team field and showed why the outlook is positive for Stow’s chances to have several threats for the upcoming league and post season meets.

Chardon won the team crown 90-56 over Akron Buchtel while Twinsburg placed third (51.50), just edging Stow, which had 42.50 points and beat quality programs from Woodridge, Walsh Jesuit and Marlington, among others.

Freshman Jayla Atkinson had another big meet for Stow.

With blinding speed, Atkinson raced to an individual title in the 800-meter race at Falcon Stadium.

Atkinson was timed at 2-minutes and 16.07 seconds and finished ahead of a bright cast of athletes.

The gifted Atkinson beat Chardon senior Brianna Nieset (2:18.49), a Southern Illinois University recruit, plus Woodridge star Izzy Best (2:18.55), and Poland Seminary senior Jackie Grisdale (2:18.91), a first-team All-Ohio basketball player who has competed in six different sports.

Another huge moment for Stow came when the 1,600-meter relay placed second overall to a loaded Chardon crew (4:05.01).

A dangerous cast of runners includes senior Paige Neely, junior Lydia Payne, junior Kendra Cassiday, and Atkinson. The quartet had a season best of 4:09.572, just edging Buchtel (4:09.574).

Cassiday also had a brilliant day at Fitch.

In the open 1,600-meter race, Cassiday took third-place in 5:22.70 for the Bulldogs.

Stow scored big in the pole vault competition as sophomore Lily Baker grabbed fourth-place and junior Olivia Casalinova placed fifth.

Baker’s effort of 9-feet and 6.0 inches was the second best in school history to Sara Kasper, who reached 11-4 feet in 2016.

Casalinova, just weeks into learning the new event, finished fifth with a superb vault of 8-6 feet.

Crossing sixth in the 1,600-meter race, junior Sam Fobean was clocked at 5:34.49. Junior Mariah Propst took sixth in the high jump at 4-8 feet. Sophomore Paige Klingensmith was seventh in the 100-meter hurdles in 16.60 seconds.

The Bulldogs’ 800-meter relay ran seventh in 1:51.32 behind Payne, sophomore Nicole Kotsatos, Neely, and sophomore Sydney Sheppert.

Junior Hannah Hartenburg also scored for Stow in the 3,200-meter race with a clocking of 11:56.52.

Stow is prepping for the challenging Suburban League National Conference Championships, which are set for May 12 and 13 at Nordonia.