Twinsburg keeps tradition alive at Nordonia girls district track meet

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Twinsburg's Rana Thornton, center, anchors the winning 400-meter relay between Alexis Steward, left, of Walsh Jesuit and Tamia Hameed of Nordonia during the Division I district track meet at Nordonia High School on Friday. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

MACEDONIA — In the past decade, the Twinsburg girls track and field team has become accustomed to postseason success.

Tigers coach Sarah Kmet knew that tradition was in jeopardy this year without a lot of new faces stepping up.

At Friday's Division I district meet at Nordonia, the Tigers stepped up.

Twinsburg claimed the girls team title at Nordonia with 103.5 points, winning a close race with Walsh Jesuit (95.5) and Hudson (93).

"They just go out and compete," Kmet said. "They work hard. They own their craft on the track. One of the best things is there [are] so many freshmen who helping us."

Twinsburg's formula for victory was identical to its win at the Suburban League meet a week earlier: Dominate the relays and show off sprinting depth.

The title was still in doubt heading into the 1,600-meter relay, although Kmet pointed out that a fourth-place finish in the 3,200-meter run from senior Katie Vasiliauskas (5:27.1) gave Twinsburg "some cushion" heading into the final relay.

Arriah Gilmer, right, of Twinsburg, embraces her teammate Sophie Besett after Besett anchored their 1,600-meter relay team to a first-place finish during the Division I district track meet at Nordonia High School on Friday. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

Twinsburg left noting to chance, as Arriah Gilmer, Sanayah Ruffin, Bree Branch and Sophie Besett combined to win the 1,600 relay in 4:02.74.

It was last event of a relay sweep for Twinsburg.

In the 800 relay, Akira Johnson, Savannah Swanda, Rana Thornton and Gilmer combined to win it in 1:44:02, and the Tigers' combo of Branch, Swanda, Johnson and Thornton won the 400 relay in 49.34 seconds.

The foundation of Twinsburg's title was built by senior thrower Nighyah Carthen for the second consecutive week.

After winning the shot put Wednesday with a throw of 39-feet-8, Carthen completed the thrower's double Friday. She won the discus with a toss of 121-11, beating Walsh's Maria El Biri (177-6).

"She's worked hard to get here," Twinsburg throwing coach Anthony Byrd said. "We're still not perfect yet. I know we'll get to work on Monday to get better."

Carthen's big meet was nearly matched by Walsh senior Abby Knouff, despite her not being 100 percent.

After sustaining a bruised heel the previous week, Knouff chose to only make one jump in long jump competition. Her leap of 17 feet, 6.25 inches was good for second place.

It proved to be the right move. Knouff went straight to the pole vault, where she won with a vault of 12-feet-8, breaking the district record of 12-6 set by Walsh's Allie Stern in 2017.

"I feel great," Knouff said. "My plan was just to just clear my seed height (12 feet), but the heel felt good, so I just kept going. The goal is 14 feet for me."

The most successful family at Nordonia was Cuyahoga Falls' Brustoski sisters.

Senior Emma Brustoski opened the meet by winning the long jump with a leap of 17-6.5, beating Knouff by a quarter of an inch.

"I wasn't sure I could win," Emma said. "This is my first year at long jump. I want to make to states now, for sure."

Ellie Brustoski, center, of Cuyahoga Falls runs to a first place finish in the 300 meter hurdles between Nicole Abraham of Twinsburg, left, and Reagan Miele of Hudson during the Div. I District Track Meet at Nordonia High School Friday, May 21, 2021 in Macedonia, Ohio.

Not content to let her big sister have all the fun, sophomore Ellie Brustoski won both hurdle events.

Ellie won the 100-meter hurdles in 16.17 and the claimed them out-leaned Garfield Heights' Nayla Thornton at the line to claim the 300 hurdles in 46.8.

"It wasn't my best race of the year," Ellie said. "I think I slowed down a bit at the end."

The sisters also combined to lead Falls' 800 relay to third place and its 400 relay to fifth place.

After Hudson won the 3,200 relay on Wednesday, it was no shock to the see the Explorers get the bulk of their points Friday in the distance events.

Emmaline Hannan, right, of Hudson and teammate Brenna Beucler, run to a first and second place finish in the 1600 meter run during the Div. I District Track Meet at Nordonia High School Friday, May 21, 2021 in Macedonia, Ohio.

Seniors Emmaline Hannan (5:19.73) and Brenna Buecler (5:19.76) came in 1-2 in the 1,600-meter run.

Hudson senior Sydney Gallagher (11:22.47) just missed winning the 3,200 run, as she was edged by Brecksville's Anna Mehendale (11.21.93).

Anna Mehendale, left, of Brecksville, left, edges out Sydney Gallagher of Hudson at the finish for a first place win in the 3200 meter run during the Div. I District Track Meet at Nordonia High School Friday, May 21, 2021 in Macedonia, Ohio.

Allowed to concentrate on her best event, Stow-Munroe Falls freshman Jayla Atkinson won the 800-meter run in 2:14.31.

"I was just trying to go my pace for the whole race," Atkinson said. "I started to pick it up early."

Jayla Atkinson of Stow runs to a first place finish in the 800 meter run during the Div. I District Track Meet at Nordonia High School Friday, May 21, 2021 in Macedonia, Ohio.

Bedford senior Kaira Granger dominated the sprints, winning the 100-meter un in 12 seconds flat and the 200 in 24.76.