Track & Field | Matt Singleton working to make up for lost time

Mike Brown
Aurora's Matt Singleton, right, is shown an earlier race. He finished second in the 1600 meters at the Division I district championships.

AUSTINTOWN — Aurora distance runner Matt Singleton is on a mission to make up for lost time.

Singleton, a junior standout in cross country in the fall and track in the spring for the Greenmen, qualified for the state Division I cross country meet as a freshman and also placed 10th while earning All-Ohio honors at the same meet as a sophomore.

Now a junior, he held one of the top cross country times in Ohio last fall as he prepared for a long and successful postseason run.

Then things changed on the proverbial dime, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though Singleton didn’t have COVID-19, he had to put his hopes of challenging for high placement at state on the shelf due to contact tracing.

Obviously, he was disappointed, because his season filled with so much promise was over before the postseason even began.

“Sadly, this past fall [due to COVID-19 contact tracing] I missed the opportunity to go to the state meet,” said Singleton. “I got 10th at the state meet as a sophomore and was hoping to go back and get top five, but I got quarantined.” 

Aurora's Noah Harrison takes the baton from Aiden Henderson in the boy's 4x400 relay at the Suburban League American conference Championship Track and Field Meet at Tallmadge High School on Friday May 11, 2021.The Aurora team finished first in the event.

Singleton knows he can never get his junior cross country season back, but he’s making up for lost time by excelling in distance races this spring for the Aurora boys’ track team.

He made quite a statement during last week’s Austintown Fitch Division I district championships. He placed in two events and was the district runner-up in the 1600 meters in an outstanding field of runners. He qualified for the regional with a time of 4 minutes, 22.25 seconds, just behind district champion Johnny Cicero of Solon who clocked a 4:20.98. 

“I’m excited for him [Singleton], he’s been a treat to work with,” said Aurora distance running coach Allison Irvin. “It was not his PR, but it’s pretty close. He had a great finish.” 

“My best time is a 4:21.56 at the Suburban League meet,” said Singleton. “In the last 110 today I used that grit to my advantage a little bit and passed two guys at the end.”

“I have high hopes for him, he’s a hard worker,” said Irvin. “He’s consistent and dedicated and he’s a delight to work with.”

Aurora's Lauren Tincher races in the girls 100m hurdles during the Division 1 District Track Meet, Wednesday night at Austintown Fitch High School.

Singleton runs in the 800 and 1600 meters and in the 4x800 relay for the Greenmen and says he has a favorite event.

“I like the 800 and I enjoy it, but it’s not my favorite, the 1600 is more fun,” said Singleton, who is getting close to the school record in the 1600.

“Our school record is 4:15.5, so I’m a couple seconds shy of that and this year or next year I’m hoping to be able to get that,” he said.

Singleton is focused on taking things one week at a time in the postseason.

“All that matters is moving on to the regional meet,” said Singleton, who wants to accomplish as much as he can because he’s seen how quickly things can be taken away.

Singleton’s two places helped the Greenmen finish fourth in the team standings at the Fitch district with 74 points.

The Aurora standout is thrilled that he is one step closer to getting a chance to compete for a state berth at this weekend’s Fitch regional, but he’s equally happy for his many teammates who are regional bound.

Aurora's Devon Salgado clears a hurdle in the boys 100m hurdles during the Division 1 District Track Meet, Wednesday night at Austintown Fitch High School.

“I’m just excited to see the rest of my teammates make it [to the regional] as well,” he said.

Crawford, Manderbach, 1600 relay are district champions

The Greenmen boys ended fourth in the team standings with 74 points. Host Fitch won the team crown with 134 points.

Aurora champions at the Fitch district were Donovan Crawford (discus, 166 feet, 5 inches); Max Manderbach (400 meters, 51.44) and the 4x400 relay of Ryan Kotora, Manderbach, Aiden Henderson and Noah Harrison (3:25.12).

Other regional-bound athletes and their district places for Aurora’s boys included the 4x200 relay of Kotora, Matt Studer, Henderson and Jimmy Mehallis (fourth, 1:31.93), Henderson (third, 400 meters, 52.35) and Ploskunak (fourth, 3200 meters, 9:47.29).

Other Aurora boys athletes scoring points at the district included the boys 4x800 relay team of Ploskunak, Singleton, Nate Ruehr and Harrison (fifth, 8:06.73); Jacob Matousek (seventh, long jump, 19-8.75); the 4x100 relay of Kotora, Studer, Matousek and Mehallis (fifth, 44.14); Kotora (sixth, 200 meters, 22.50); Mehallis (eighth, 200 meters, 22.97); Matousek (seventh, long jump, 19-8.75); Zeb Smith (fifth, high jump, 6-0), and Crawford (seventh, shot put, 48-0.750).

Aurora's Hannah Rogge receives the baton from Grace Barto during the girls 4x200m relay during the Division 1 District Track Meet, Wednesday night at Austintown Fitch High School.

Aurora girls qualify seven individuals and two relays

The Aurora girls finished fourth in the team standings with 75.50 points. Solon won the girls’ team title with 107 points.

Regional-bound athletes for the Aurora girls are Lauren Tincher (second, long jump, 16-10); the 4x800 relay of Grace Barto, Morgan Schmitt, Kayla Kane and Mikayla Jones (third, 9:51.20); the 4x200 relay of Hannah Salgado, Barto, Hannah Rogge and Tincher (fourth, 1:50.81); Schmitt (third, 1600 meters, 5:18.09; third, 800 meters, 2:27.81); Jones (fourth, 1600 meters, 5:23.59); Barto (fourth, 800 meters, 2:29.65), Kayla Kane (third, 3200 meters, 11:40.30), the 4x400 relay of Barto, Rogge, Libby Evans and Tincher (fourth, 4:14.12); Kitana Slamovitz (third, discus, 109-10), and Salgado (fourth, pole vault, 9-6).

Other Aurora girls athletes scoring points at the district included Mya Neal (fifth, high jump, 4-8); Kassidy Fry (eighth, high jump, 4-8); Breena Baker (seventh, shot put, 32-11.50); Victoria Blechschmid (eighth, 100 hurdles, 17.68); the 4x100 relay of Mia Bryant, Fry, Salgado and Neal (sixth, 52.27), and Jones (seventh, 3200 meters, 11:59.46).

Aurora's Caitlin Hensley, left, races against Howland's Lauren Null during the girls 100m dash during the Division 1 District Track Meet, Wednesday night at Austintown Fitch High School.