Atkinson's two wins leads Stow girls track at league meet

Steve Batko
Correspondent
Stow-Munroe Falls Jayla Atkinson runs to a first place finish in the Girls 800 meter run at the Suburban League National Conference track meet at Nordonia High School on Thursday May 13, 2021.

Stow-Munroe Falls freshman Jayla Atkinson had a smashing debut at the league meet, winning a pair of events.

Although the event menu will change for the gifted Stow freshman, Atkinson also hoped to make a big splash in her post season debut at districts.

Head coach Aaron Morris liked what he saw at the Suburban League National Conference Championships May 12-13 at Nordonia.

The Bulldogs were set to compete at the Nordonia Division I district championships May 19 and 21.

Atkinson and other Bulldog athletes were expected to challenge for a top four finish at districts and a berth to the Austintown Fitch Regional Championships, set for May 26 and May 28.

Paced by Atkinson’s titles in the 800-meter race and the 1,600-meters, Stow was less than 24 points off the pace for the team championship in a tight race in the standings.

Atkinson won easily in league action in the 800-meter race. She crossed first in 2-minutes and 15.44 seconds.

Besides relays, that 800-meter race was expected to be Atkinson’s main event in the post season.

At Nordonia, Atkinson registered a personal record time of 5:05.65 to surprisingly win easily — over veteran Hudson challenger Sydney Gallagher (5:08.84).

“Jayla will not run both the 1,600 and the 800-meters at districts,” stressed Morris, just after the league meet. “The 1,600 seems to be the hot event for distance runners this year.”

Coming into districts, Morris noted that Atkinson was ranked sixth in Ohio and third in the region in the 800-meter race. Morris indicated that Milesplit.com shows Atkinson is ranked fifth in the region in the 1,600 14th in Ohio.

“That 1,600-meter time of 5:05.65 puts Jayla second on the all-time list behind only Katie Betts,” said Morris, as the school’s time records prior to 2000 were only known as school records and there were no long lists of times for runners.

Sophomore Paige Klingensmith didn’t have her best time at the league meet, but it was good enough to garner runner-up honors in the 100-meter hurdles for the Bulldogs.

Only Cuyahoga Falls standout Ellie Brustoski beat Klingensmith at the league championships. Klingensmith’s time was 16.41 seconds while Brustoski won in 16.15 ticks.

Twinsburg repeated its title from 2019 by outscoring Hudson 112.5-98 and Wadsworth (94.5). Stow totaled 89 points to best Nordonia (73) for fourth.

Junior Kendra Cassiday had an outstanding meet for Stow.

In four events at Nordonia, Cassiday had fourth-place finishes in each race, including a pair of relays.

With a superb season-best clocking of 5:19.14, Cassiday ran fourth in a loaded 1,600-meter race.

The 800-meter race had some great athletes too and Cassiday crossed fourth with a modest time of 2:22.64.

“Kendra is continuing to have a great season,” offered Morris. “For the same reason as Jayla, she will be running 800’s from here on out as well. She was ranked sixth in the district in the 800. It makes more sense to run both girls in the 800-meters in order to give them the best chance at a prolonged post-season.”

At the league meet, Cassiday and Atkinson also ran in the Bulldogs’ fourth-place 3,200 and 1,600-meter relays.

Stow’s 3,200-meter relay had a strong time of 9:51.06 with promising freshman Deena Ingrassia, senior Ashley Hutchinson, Cassiday, and Atkinson.

The 1,600-meter relay was timed at 4:07.09 with Cassiday, junior Lydia Payne, Atkinson and senior Paige Neely.

“Three of our four relays have good chances to qualify out of districts,” said Morris, prior to the meet. Our 3,200-meter relay was ranked third in the district and the 1,600-meter relay was second.”

Sophomore Lily Baker has been solid in the pole vault this spring and she also shined in her league meet debut.

Baker was fourth in the pole vault at 9-feet and 6.0 inches.

Carly Feckley collected a fourth-place in the long jump as the senior leaped 16-8.25 feet and was fifth in the high jump at 4-10 feet.

Snagging a strong fifth-place in her first league championship meet was senior Rosa Tate, who tossed the shot put 33-6.5 feet.

Another good performance came in the open 3,200-meter race by junior Sam Fobean, who crossed in 11:54.97.

Mariah Propst finished sixth in the high jump for Stow as the junior reached 4-8 feet.

Junior Hannah Hartenburg ran sixth in the 3,200-meter race in 12:08.39 while sophomore Sydney Sheppert added a sixth in the 100-meter dash in 13.20 seconds.

Stow’s 800-meter relay posted a season best of 1:49.06 to place sixth behind the running of Neely, sophomore Nicole Kotsatos, sophomore Sophia Yoder, and Payne.

“Our 800-meter relay just dropped a significant time in the league meet,” declared Morris. That time ranked the relay sixth in the district, according to Morris.

The 400-meter relay added a sixth (52.18) at Nordonia with Sheppert, Kotsatos, Feckley, and Yoder.

Seniors Leah Bennington and Kaylee Lott ran seventh in the 300-meter hurdles and in the 100-meter hurdles, respectively.

Bennington crossed with a tremendous time of 50.82 seconds while Lott’s time was 17.67 ticks. Payne also scored with an eight-place in the 400 in 1:02.75