OPTIMIST TRACK Steele ties best throw to win meet's discus
Canton GlenOak's girls and Cleveland Glenville's boys won team titles.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
AUSTINTOWN -- Marian Steele just needed to calm down. Relax. Concentrate on throwing. Not on the meet. Not on her opposition. Not on the fact that she was still looking for that elusive first win in a big meet.
The Fitch High senior threw 136 feet in the discus, tying her best throw, to win Saturday's Optimist Track and Field Meet at Fitch High School.
"It all came together, finally," Steele said. "I've never felt so good."
To do it, she had to beat out Maplewood's Christen Clemson, who has the area's best throw (138-9), Canfield senior Lindsay Cobey, who broke the Cardinals' school record earlier in the week and Mahoning County meet champion Ashley Kohler of Boardman.
"I've been doing pretty bad lately and my coaches and my friends just told me to calm down," said Steele. "It's very competitive around here, but that just makes me better.
"And I finally did it. I finally won a big meet. I'm very excited."
Less than a minute after the finals, Steele called her mom, Rachel, on a cell phone to relay the good news.
"She's probably calling my dad right now," she said.
Boardman junior Monica Cuevas anchored the Spartans' 4x800 relay team that set a meet record with a time of 9:32.3, breaking the previous record of 9:32.8. Cuevas then set a school record in the 800-meter with a time of 2:16.6, breaking Carol Valensi's record of 2:18.1 set in 1991. The Spartans have set four school records this year.
Not bad for someone who says she's still figuring out how to run the 800.
"I've been wanting that record for a month," she said, still visibly winded minutes after the race. "I feel horrible right now, but in my head I feel great."
Cuevas started her leg of the 4x800 relay at least 10 seconds back of Wadsworth's anchor, but caught her at the last 50 meters. Cuevas' speed did the rest.
"I heard people start cheering for me and that really helped me out," Cuevas said. "I was surprised I caught her, but I saw her start slowing down. She probably expected me to be a little further back."
The relay team of Cuevas, Brittany Durkin, Gina Mavrikis and Sarah Grabert was given the meet's Outstanding Performance award.
Boardman sophomore Amber Bland won three events, the 100, 200 and high jump, leading the Spartans, who were missing several runners due to Saturday night's prom, to a tie for second with Cleveland Collinwood.
Canton GlenOak finished first.
East Palestine senior Alex Casi won the 300-meter hurdles and finished second in the long jump.
Warren Harding junior Tjawonkher Davis had the day's best time after the 100-meter dash preliminaries, but ran a bad semifinal race and didn't make the finals.
His teammate, Rob Massucci, filled in quite nicely.
The Raider junior won the 100 with a time of 11.11 and the 200 with a time of 22.37.
"I was a little lonely out there, but I feel pretty good about winning," Massucci said. "I heard this was a big meet. It doesn't mean much compared to districts or regionals, but it still feels good."
Davis also failed to advance in the 200.
"I know how that feels," Massucci said. "So I won it for him. Maybe that will make him feel better."
Harding finished seventh overall. Cleveland Glenville finished first, North Canton Hoover second and Boardman took third. Steve Vallos and Evan Beard took 1-2 in the discus for the Spartans and Beard finished second in the shot put.