Hayes, relays lead charge for Nordonia at National Conference meet

Steve Batko
Nordonia Matthew Hayes races to a first place finish in the boys 300 meter hurdle at the Suburban League National Conference track meet at Nordonia High School on Thursday May 13, 2021.
Nordonia anchor runner Matt Cooper crosses the line for a first place finish for the team in the boys 4x400 relay at the Suburban League National Conference track meet at Nordonia High School on Thursday May 13, 2021.

Matt Hayes not only has the talent to shatter a 40-year-old record, but he also knows when to put aside what he sees as a possible personal shortcoming, while at the same time, give praise to a teammate.

That says a lot about the Nordonia High junior, who came up huge at the Suburban League track and field championships at Nordonia May 12 and 13.

Hayes broke a meet record that spanned a whopping four decades and in the same meet, showed excitement for senior teammate Ridwan Umar, who had a monstrous personal record in winning the high jump – an event Hayes was hoping to win!

Veteran head coach Scott Barwidi knows that was quite a spectrum of events and emotions for Hayes.

It was obvious that Hayes highlighted the meet for Nordonia’s boys and girls track teams as he broke a 40-year-old record in the 300-meter hurdles event.

Hayes captured the league title in the 300-meter hurdles with a lightning-fast new meet record of 38.49 seconds.

That clocking broke the meet record of 38.60 seconds, set in 1981 by Green’s Dave Fatheree!

“For Matt, he ran really well and it was clean all the way – that broke the meet record, the school record and was a new stadium record,” said an excited Barwidi.

That win by Hayes also featured a huge 1-2 finish by Nordonia as senior teammate Jahdon Wimbush ran second with a PR of his own – 40.95 seconds.

“Jahdon had a big PR and chased Matt on the inside lane – it was a great race by Jahdon,” offered Barwidi.

In the high jump, Hayes was a challenger for the title coming into the meet even though Wadsworth star Braedyn Homan has reached 6-feet and 6.0 inches.

However, it wasn’t Homan nabbing the win and Hayes did not win either – Hayes finished third at 6-1 feet.

It was Umar who won the high jump!

Umar ran and sprung up, lifting to 6-3 feet, which crushed his previously best by three inches! It was his first league championship! He beat Homan, who reached 6-2 feet.

“That competition was great and Ridwan had a tremendous jump and a great meet,” noted Barwidi.

“Earlier in the meet, Ridwan had told me that he felt good and thought he could reach a new PR and that was a huge PR,” added the coach. “Ridwan wanted to adjust the first attempt, but we kept it the same. Matt (Hayes) was disappointed, but he was excited for Ridwan. It was great to see.”

Nordonia’s boys placed fourth in the league standings with 110 points as Hudson won 128-125 over Wadsworth and Stow-Munroe Falls (121).

In girls’ action, Nordonia placed fifth overall with 73 points as Twinsburg (112.5 points) repeated as team champion.

“We had some really good things happen for both the girls and boys teams,” said the coach.

The Nordonia girls lone title came in the high jump as senior Taniah Thomas was crowned champion with an effort of 4-10 feet over Twinsburg’s Sydnee Donegan.

“I know Taniah wanted to jump higher than she did, but it seemed like all the high jumpers struggled just a little bit for some reason, but Taniah got it done,” explained Barwidi.

“She (Thomas) will be looking at districts and to get out,” noted Barwidi, as Nordonia also hosts the Division I District Meet on May 19 and May 21 with the top four athletes in each event advancing to the regional action.

“At times this year, our strongest events have been in the field events and we were winning the league meet with our field events at one point.”

Senior Divine Godspower-Odiong excelled for Nordonia.

Godspower placed second in the discus throw with a toss of 104-9 feet while she was third in the shot put with a heave of 34-11.25 feet.

“Divine threw extremely well,” said Barwidi, who was also excited with a runner-up effort by junior Emily Eterovich in the pole vault of 11-0 feet.

Nordonia’s boys also snagged a pair of championships from the 400-meter relay and in the 1,600-meter relay.

The 400-meter relay title registered a season best of 43.50 seconds as the Knights had a monumental win over strong clubs from Stow (43.57), Hudson and top-seed Twinsburg, which DQ’d.

Comprising the 400-meter relay was junior Bryan Russ and a trio of seniors in Mike Westbrooks, Zack Liederbach, and Joe Wahl.

“Our 400-meter relay had very clean exchanges and did a great job,” said the Knight mentor.

Registering a season-best clocking of 3:27.01, the 1,600-meter relay was victorious as sophomore Matt Cooper, Hayes, junior Ryan Kinch, and senior Jonathan Banks all ran well.

“Just a sophomore, Matt Cooper is going to be a great one and he had a 50.6-second split on his lead off leg, and that made a big difference,” noted Barwidi.

In the featured 110-meter high hurdles race, Hayes and Stow star Jo Barry squared off, along with Hudson’s Jacob Clary.

Barry edged Hayes with a time of 15.12 seconds. Hayes crossed in 15.29 ticks, beating Clary, who had a time of 15.34.

Barwidi was also glad to see a 2-3 finish by the Knights in the pole vault competition.

Thanks to a PR of 13-0 feet, senior Alex Hungerford took second while Wahl was third at 13-0 feet.

With a great time of 22.67 seconds, Banks ran third in the 200-meter dash and also ran in Nordonia’s 800-meter relay crew.

The Knight’s 800-meter relay was third in a loaded field with a season-best time of 1:29.97. Twinsburg won in 1:29.74 and top seed Stow was second at 1:29.89.

Taking part in the 800-relay was Wahl, Banks, Kinch, and Cooper.

“Our 800-meter relay ran a great race and a great time without Matt Hayes being in the relay,” said Barwidi.

Senior Shane Robinson added a third-place in the long jump at 19-1.75 feet and Wimbush ran fifth in the 110 highs in 16.30 seconds.

Sophomore Alexis Hives added a fourth-place for the girls in the 100-meter hurdles with a strong clocking of 16.82 seconds.

“Alexis ran her best and she has been working hard at the 3-step,” noted the coach, who saw Hallie Majoros run fifth in the 300-meter race in 50.02 ticks.

Nordonia’s 800-meter relay ran fourth in 1:48.16 with sophomore Rachel Dudich, Majoros, senior Sydney Hazelton, and sophomore Tamia Hameed. Dudich took fifth in the 200 in 27.08 seconds.

DeeDee Adkins finished fourth in the shot put as the senior had a toss of 34-4.5 feet. Eterovich added a fifth in the long jump at 16-7.5 feet.

Also grabbing fifth was the 400-meter relay (51.26) of Dudich, Eterovich, Hives, and Hameed, who also ran seventh in the 200-meter dash (27.13). Eterovich took eighth in the 100 (13.25).

Vegas Roganish ran seventh in the 400-meters as the sophomore was timed at 1:02.55. She also ran in the seventh-place 1,600-meter relay (4:22.34) with Majoros, Hazelton, and freshman Daina Kampe.

The 3,200-meter relay scored with a seventh-place (10:54.35) with senior Autumn Westbrooks, junior Analeise Artino, freshman Abbey Colbert, and senior Great Heiser.

Daylon Brown ran sixth in the 400-meters as the junior crossed in 52.47 seconds and Wimbush was sixth in the long jump at 20-9.5 feet.

Senior Marquez Hart placed sixth in the shot put with a throw of 42-5 feet and added a ninth-place with a discus toss of 117-2 feet.

Liederbach added a pair of seventh-place efforts in the 100 (11.40) and 200 (23.21) while senior Nathan Lahrmer ran seventh in the open 800 in a best time of 2:02.71 and also ran in the scoring 3,200-meter relay (8:35.58) with junior Alex Bye, sophomore Chris Turner, and sophomore James Jackson. Chris Turner ran eighth in the 1,600 in 4:40.66.