Whenever East needed a little something extra from its athletes, they delivered.
Both its girls and boys track athletes were able to get that edge necessary to reach the state meet on Friday at Austintown Fitch.
The girls side picked up the most medals of any area team at the Divison I regional with two titles, plus state qualifiers in three other events. The 4x100 relay team of Jahniya Bowers, Kyndia Matlock, DeShante Allen and Johnae Coleman beat runner-up Twinsburg by just 0.06 seconds, with Matlock leaning over the finish line.
“I was disappointed in the [third place] 4x200 and I just had to do this for the team,” Matlock said. “I didn’t want to let the Twinsburg girl catch me again. She caught up to me, but my whole mindset was coming in first.”
The Golden Bears’ time of 47.76 seconds is a school record. The race was the second of Bowers’ two regional titles after previously winning the 100. She left Fitch with four medals around her neck, having qualified for state in the 4x200 relay and 200.
“It feels good. It makes me feel like I did something this year,” Bowers said. “I’ve been working and the work paid off.”
Area track programs scored victories in a variety of events and are taking solid contingents to the Division II regional track meet this week at Austintown Fitch.
Jefferson’s boys team had a banner district tournament, winning the team title with 103 points for the first time in school history, Lakeview finished second with 90.33 points.
In the girls competition, Edgewood’s girls team checked in second at 77.50.
At Lakeview on Saturday, Jefferson’s Terril Skinner was a double qualifier in the hurdles, running a 15.62 110 for third and 300 in 42.81 for fourth.
Also for the Falcons, Brandon Park took second in the 800 in 2:00.18; Jason Vance (third,100 at 11.68; JJ Henson (fourth, 400, 51.70) and Travis Brandt (fourth, 3200, 10:23.87).
The relays were also beneficial for the Falcons. In the 4X400, Brandon Park, Colton Sinkko, J.J. Henson and Daniel Bruckman took first in 3:29.96. The 4X200 team of Sinkko, Skinner, Vance and Bruckman finished second at 1:33.50 and the 4X100 quartet of Skinner, Blake Burns, Bruckman and Vance checked in fourth at 45.51.
The public-address announcer let everyone in Spartan Stadium what the stakes were for the girls 4x400 relay.
Heading into the final race of the All-American Conference Red Tier Championships, it was announced that Boardman and Austintown Fitch were tied with 138 points.
“Our coaches basically said, ‘How much do you want it?’ And we were like, ‘We want it!’” Boardman runner Raegan Burkey said. “We had some pretty even matchups and we had to put our best foot forward and run with all we had because it was the last event and we knew that we had to work for it.”
With a mix of strategy and a will to win, the Spartans won a wild relay race to claim the girls title.