Stow's Preston, Hudson's Slater among big winners at Div. I boys track district

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Xavier Preston of Stow, center, runs to a first-place finish in the 200-meter dash between Jonathan Banks, left, of Nordonia and Nushawn Grant of Maple Heights during the Division I district track meet at Nordonia High School on Friday. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

MACEDONIA — As the late rapper DMX put it, "X Gon' Give It To Ya."

"X" gave it again May 21 at the Division I boys district track meet at Nordonia.

Stow senior Xavier Preston scored the spring double for the second consecutive week at Nordonia, winning the 100 and 200 meters titles.

Preston formed the bedrock of Stow's boys finishing second in the team race at Nordonia with 79.5 points, edging the host Knights and Walsh Jesuit, each of whom finished with 79 points.

Hudson got a total team effort to win the boys district title with 105.5 points.

"It was a team effort all the way," Hudson coach Mark McConnell said. "We got contributions from the sprints, we got contributions from distance and from the field. The most impressive thing is how many kids we got to move on to regionals."

Preston began the day with a time of 10.92 seconds in the 100, beating familiar foes Luke McLaughlin (11 seconds) and Colin Pierce (11.17) of Hudson.

Anchoring the Bulldogs 800-meter relay team, Preston nearly ran down the title, but was edged by Nordonia senior Jon Banks at the line. Nordonia won the relay in 1:28.47, just .11 seconds ahead of Stow.

Jon Banks, right, of Nordonia edges out Alexander Branch, left, of Twinsburg and Xavier Preston of Stow to anchor his team to a victory in the 800-meter relay during the Division I district track meet at Nordonia High School on Friday. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

"I respect Jon a lot," Preston said. "I looked up to him when I was a freshman, but I wanted to make sure I got him."

The rematch came in the 200, where Preston won a tight final in 22.05, ahead of Twinsburg's Antoine Brown (22.21) and Banks (22.23).

"The bigger goal is just to keep growing with my team," Preston said. "You just have to take it one race at a time."

"Any chance you get to take some postseason hardware, it's a good thing," Stow coach JK LeSeure said. "He's the core of our sprinters. We don't take second without Xavier."

Stow also had a big day Wednesday in the long jump. Clayton Mosher (23 feet, 3½ inches) and Stephen Mangira (22-7) finished second and third behind champion Malachi Collier of Maple Heights,

Collier set new district and stadium records with a leap of 24-3.

Hudson's launch point for the district title started with a big first day. The Explorers won the 3,200-meter relay in 7:59.03. Hudson then went one-two in the discus. Senior Chris Slater won with a toss of 162-2 and Kevin Toth was second with 147-7.

Slater completed the thrower's double Friday and was the lone competitor to top 50 feet in the shot put. His winning throw of 50-8½ beat runner-up Tyson Jacobs of Twinsburg by more than two feet.

"He sets a great foundation for us in the throws," McConnell said of Slater. "It's really a good starting point for us."

After anchoring the Explorers' 3,200 relay, junior Titan Casey continued his dominance in the 800, winning a fast race in 1:55.58.

Titan Casey of Hudson runs to a first-place finish in the 800-meter run during the Division I district track meet at Nordonia High School on Friday. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

"Everyone just decided to go after the first lap," Casey said. "We just had to turn up the intensity all the way to the end."

The Explorers' distance dominance was broken by two Walsh athletes.

First, Warriors senior Gavin McHale (4:27.16) edged Cuyahoga Falls' Koby Dunfroth (4:328.32) in the 1,600 meters.

Gavin McHale of Walsh Jesuit runs to a first-place finish in the 1,600-meter run during the Division I district track meet at Nordonia High School on Friday. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

Then, Walsh junior Luke Ondrasek (9:32.49) won a three-man battle with Falls' Lukas Keverkamp (9:35.56) and Hudson's Elliot Durkee to win the 3,200.

"I definitely went out a little too slow," Ondrasek said. "Lukas was on me all the way through. I went as hard as I could in the last lap."

Luke Ondracek of Walsh Jesuit runs to a first-place finish in the 3,200-meter run during the Division I district track meet at Nordonia High School on Friday. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

For the second consecutive week, junior Matt Hayes was Nordonia's top performer.

Along with leading off the Knights' winning 800-meter relay, Hayes was part of a one-two finish for the Knights in the high jump Friday.

Hayes and senior teammate Ridwan Umar were the only two jumpers to clear 6-feet, but Umar also cleared 6-2 to take the title.

"I was pretty nervous at the start," Umar said. "But as the height kept going up, I became more relaxed. I'm going to have to have my 'A' game at regionals to get out."

Hayes dominated the 300-meter hurdles, winning in 38.96 seconds. North's Elijah Humphrey was second in 40.08.

Matthew Hayes of Nordonia runs to a first-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles during the Division I district track meet at Nordonia High School on Friday. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

"I saw them come past me early in the race," Hayes said. "I didn't want it to be like the 110 last week. I just continued running my race."

The highlight for Akron Public Schools Friday was the performance of Firestone senior Alex Knight, who won the 400 in 48.97 seconds to tie the Boliantz Stadium record set by Stow's Scott Cunningham in 2017.

Alex Knight of Firestone smiles after crossing the finish line first in the 400-meter dash during the Division I district track meet at Nordonia High School on Friday. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

Knight was so exhausted, he needed a piggyback ride to leave the track, but was elated with his performance. He said the Falcons hadn't had a sprinter advance to state in "a long time."

"I left it all out there," Knight said. "I just wanted to run my race."