Stow boys track just misses winning National Conference title

Steve Batko
Stow-Munroe Falls Xavier Preston crosses the finish line to take first place in the boys 200 meter dash at the Suburban League National Conference track meet at Nordonia High School on Thursday May 13, 2021.

Just a few points shy of a team crown in the Suburban League Championships, the Stow boys track squad gave a glimpse into how quick the Bulldogs can score points in bunches.

Placing third at the Suburban League National Conference Championships at Nordonia, the Bulldogs were a mere seven points from a team title.

Head coach J.K. LeSeure knows his club has potential to score and have high placements in big-time meets – he was hoping for a similar outcome at the district meet.

Stow was set to compete at the Nordonia Division I district championships May 19 and 21.

A host of Stow athletes were expected to challenge for a top four finish at districts and a berth to the Austintown Fitch Division I Regional Championships, set for May 26 and 28.

The Bulldogs made a huge improvement from the last league finish back in 2019 when the team finished seventh overall.

With great firepower in the open sprints, relay races, long jump and hurdles – just to name a few – Stow was hoping to better its 2019 district meet showing of sixth-place.

Hudson earned the team title at the National Conference championships with 128 points, followed closely by Wadsworth at 125, Stow at 121, and Nordonia at 110.

Continuing a brilliant junior campaign, Xavier Preston came up huge at the league meet May 12 and 13 at Nordonia.

Preston breezed to victory and collected sprint championships in both open sprints – the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash!

“Xavier lowered his 100-meter school record down to 10.87 seconds,” said a jubilant LeSeure. “He will continue to compete in both the 100 and 200-meters races as we head into districts this week.”

In the 100-meter competition, Preston outclassed the field as Hudson’s Luke McLaughlin ran second at 11.05 ticks.

With a time of 22.02 seconds, Preston won the 200-meter field as second-place was at 22.47 seconds by Hudson’s Colin Pierce.

Senior Jo Barry has had an incredible spring for the Bulldogs and that continued at the league meet with a first-place in the 110-meter high hurdles.

However, the league meet was bitter sweet for Barry, who did not finish the 300-meter hurdles race due to a hamstring injury.

LeSeure was hopeful that Barry could run at districts – especially since he takes part in four events that Stow had targeted to be possible regional berths!

“Jo had a great race in the 110-meter hurdles,” said LeSeure. “Unfortunately, Jo hurt his hamstring part way through the 300 race and was not able to finish. We’re hopeful he’ll be able to bounce back and be able to race in the 300 hurdles at districts.”

Those hurdle races were among the most featured events at the league meet with Barry, Nordonia star Matt Hayes, and Hudson’s Jacob Clary.

Much like Preston in the sprints, Barry is one of the most gifted hurdlers in Stow history!

Barry had a big win in the 110 highs with a time of 15.12 seconds, edging Hayes (15.29).

Hayes captured the league title in the 300-meter hurdles with a lightning-fast new meet record of 38.49 seconds, which was also a school record and a new stadium mark.

That clocking broke a 40-year-old meet record of 38.60 seconds, set in 1981 by Green’s Dave Fatheree.

On any other club, senior Clayton Mosher and Stow’s deep long jump crew would be grabbing a lot of headlines.

Mosher captured a league championship in the long jump and led a monumental 1-2 Stow finish in the event!

It wasn’t a PR for Mosher, but he came close as the gifted veteran reached 22-feet and 2.0 inches to win league honors.

Securing a runner-up finish in the long jump was senior Stephen Mangira, who has made massive strides in the event.

Mangira did register a PR at the league meet as he leaped 21-5.75 feet.

“Long jump has been a strength for us all season and they came up big in the league meet,” observed LeSeure. “As the season has progressed, Stephen has just gotten stronger and more consistent.”

LeSeure admitted that districts and the post season should be fun to watch to see how the Bulldogs fare in such a challenging event.

Stow grabbed a pair of runner-up finishes in some highly contested sprint relays against some top-notch competition at Nordonia.

In the 400-meter relay, Nordonia had a season best of 43.50 seconds to beat strong clubs from Stow (43.57), Hudson and top-seed Twinsburg, which DQ’d.

Comprising the relay for the Bulldogs was senior Mykal Azar, Preston, sophomore Brian Turner, and junior Dustin Horner.

Twinsburg won the 800-meter relay in 1:29.74, which was also a season best, while Stow crossed in a fast time of 1:29.89, just edging a strong Nordonia relay (1:29.97).

The 800-meter relay for Stow included Horner, Preston, Barry, and Mosher.

Taking third-place in the 400-meter race with a fast time of 50.49 seconds was junior Bryce Turner.

Running third for Stow was the 3,200-meter relay (8:22.63) and the 1,600-meter relay (3:29.56) as both posted season-best times!

“The relays have been a highlight this season and we expect that all four will score this week in the District meet with all having a solid shot to advance to the Regional meet,” said LeSeure, prior to districts. “The 800-meter relay should be the event of the meet with three great teams battling it out for the district title.”

Making up the 3,200-meter relay was senior Seth Macura, sophomore Zach Shawala, senior Henry Brosch, and sophomore Micah Bentley.

Stow’s 1,600-meter relay had junior Tyler Whited, Bryce Turner, Brian Turner, and Horner.

Macura grabbed a fourth in the open 800 in 1:58.92 and Shawala ran fourth in the 3,200-meters in 9:54.32.

In the high jump, sophomore Jabari Hopkins finished fourth at 6-0 feet while Bryce Turner was fifth at 5-10.

With a strong time of 22.85 seconds, Brian Tuner ran fifth in the 200-meter dash for the Bulldogs.

Senior Luke Streharsky had his best discus throw, reaching 129-6 feet, which was good for fifth-place. Brayden Croghan had a strong race in the 110 high hurdles of 16.50 ticks to run sixth.

Brosch scored with a sixth-place in the 1,600-meters in 4:38.03 while sophomore Connor Scarberry ran strong in the 1,600 in 4:38.18 to run seventh.

Also scoring with eight-place efforts was Brayden Alder in the shot put (40-6 feet), Bentley in the 3,200-meter run (10:15.37), Mangira in the discus (120-7 feet), and Brayden Gabele in the 300-meter hurdles (44.62).