Twinsburg's Carthen books ticket to state track meet

Steve Batko
Correspondent
Drevon Trapp, left, of Bedford anchors his team to a first place finish in the 4x400 meter relay past Alexander Branch of Twinsburg and Daylon Brown of Nordonia during the Div. I District Track Meet at Nordonia High School Friday, May 21, 2021 in Macedonia, Ohio.

It was a testament to her hard work that Nighyah Carthen qualified for the state track and field championships.

The thrower for the district champion Twinsburg squad, Carthen did what she needed to do at the Austintown Fitch Division I regional championships.

Ranked fourth coming into the Fitch regional in the shot put, Carthen finished as a regional runner-up,

Carthen tossed the shot put 38 feet and 11.75 inches to finish second overall on the first day of action May 26 at Falcon Stadium.

Grabbing a first-ever state appearance in her senior campaign, Carthen is having a banner season. Coming into the meet, she was ranked fourth in the shot put at 39-8 feet.

“Nighyah had a really good meet and compared to many of her opponents, her body of work is trending up and that is a good sign,” said girls head coach Sarah Kmet.

“When you have to watch the competition in the throws, it makes it tough knowing you may have to reach a certain distance and it can be a tough game of nerves,” Kmet added. “She did a great job.”

The only thrower to beat Carthen in the shot put was Warren Howland's Courtney Clark, who won with a throw of 39-4.25 feet.

Boys head coach and the program’s throwing coach Anthony Byrd was also impressed by Carthen.

“Nighyah is peaking at the right time and performed even with some rain, which plays into a lot, including traction can be difficult and with a wet surface, it can be tough, but she threw well,” Byrd explained.

Twinsburg’s youthful 3,200-meter relay also ran in the girls’ finals in heated first day action at Fitch and placed 12th overall in 9 minutes and 58.48 seconds.

Comprising the relay were junior Sophie Besett, freshman Caroline Boskelly, senior Katie Vasiliauskas, and sophomore Cordi Firem.

“I think it was mission accomplished for this relay – they did a great job getting to regionals and with Katie being a senior, I was happy she got there,” said Kmet.

The Tiger girls were the defending regional team champions from 2019 while the boys’ squad was runner-up in 2019.

While Twinsburg’s strong girls sprint relays qualified out of the preliminary heats at Fitch for the regional finals, the Tiger’s highly regarded boys’ 800-meter relay was not as fortunate.

Ranked fifth overall coming into the meet, the boys 800-meter relay suffered a disqualification for being out of the baton exchange zone and for interference with a runner falling into in another lane.

It was a relay that came into regionals with a time of 1:29.09 and has run faster than that this year.

The relay included senior Chris Wilson, junior Logan Doyle, senior Antoine Brown, and senior Alex Branch.

“I think our guys were a little anxious to get a great start,” pointed out Byrd. “It was tough because they have been running well. It’s especially tough on those seniors (Wilson, Brown, and Branch).”

“You know, there was a lot of pressure for these kids and the seniors – especially with losing last season (to COVID),” added Byrd. “I am feeling for these seniors. Maybe they were trying to do too much, but it’s tough. They had a great year.”

Meanwhile, Brown has had an exceptional post season in the 200-meter competition.

That continued at Falcon Stadium as Brown qualified for the regional finals with a great race in the preliminary heat, placing fourth overall.

Brown was just edged for third-place in the prelims with a superb race of 22.168 seconds.

“We’re hoping Antoine can duplicate his race,” said Byrd.

The girls’ 800-meter relay reached the regional finals with a strong clocking of 1:44.43 in the prelims.

Making up the 800-meter relay was junior Akira Johnson, freshman Savannah Swanda, junior Rana Thornton, and sophomore Arriah Gilmer.

Twinsburg’s 400-meter relay is also dangerous and raced second in the prelims crossing in 50.08 seconds.

This group included freshman Bree Banach, Swanda, Johnson, and Thornton.

Blessed with tremendous young talent, the Twinsburg sprint corps also has some experience as well.

Both Thornton and Johnson were a part of the 2019 relay that reached states, placing 12th in Ohio.

Besett also ran a strong race in the 400-meter prelims at regionals as she qualified for the finals with a time of 59.84 seconds, which was fifth overall.

Swanda, who was a regional qualifier in four events, qualified for the regional finals in one of her two open races at Fitch.

The gifted Swanda reached the loaded 200-meter finals in 26.15 seconds, placing eighth.

In the 100-meter dash prelims, Swanda ran 11th with a good time of 12.88 ticks, but it wasn’t enough to advance to the regional finals.

Swanda was the second-ranked freshman in the region in each of the sprints!

“I think all of our sprinters performed well and we got about what we expected,” declared Kmet. “Our sprint crew is still very young and it was a great experience for all of them. They will all be back next year.”

In addition, both the boys and girls 1,600-meter relays advanced out of the preliminary heat to the regional finals.

The boys’ 1,600 relay ran seventh in 3:26.21 behind the efforts of Doyle, junior Cameron Griffin, junior Aiden Cain, and Branch.

Branch, the anchor runner who is headed to Kent State University to play football, ran in the 2019 Tiger 1,600-meter relay that also reached regionals.

Kmet’s 1,600-meter girls crew ran sixth at Fitch in the prelims with a time of 4:06.27.

This youthful group included the talented freshman duo of Banach and Sanayah Ruffin, plus Gilmer, and Besett.

“I think all three of the (girls) relays have a great shot this post season,” offered Kmet.

Senior Nicole Abraham saw a superb career end as she didn’t qualify to the regional finals in the 300-meter hurdles.

Abraham ran a solid race in 48.84 seconds in a fast preliminary heat.

“Nicole battled back from an injury-riddled career to reach regionals – she did a great job getting there and I am so happy for her,” noted Kmet.

Griffin has also come on strong in the second half of the season for the Tiger boys.

A first-time regional qualifier in the 400-meter open race, Griffin collected great experience for next year as he crossed in 51.47 seconds at Fitch.

Regional qualifiers who had not competed yet included Vasiliauskas in the 3,200-meter open race, plus boys’ performers Tyson Jacobs and Cain.

A rising junior thrower, Jacobs was a regional qualifier in the shot put while Cain was a 1,600-meter qualifier and had double running duties with his leg in the 1,600-meter relay.

The Division I Ohio Track and Field Championships are set for June 4 and 5 at Hilliard Darby.