School/grade: Girard, sophomore.
Statistics/accomplishments: First team All-Trumbull Athletic Conference. First team All-Trumbull County. District 100, 200 and long jump record holder and champion. Regional 100, 200 and long jump record holder and champion. State 100 and 200 record holder and champion for the past two years.
Positive influence: My family, boyfriend, coach and best friend because they have always told me to follow my dreams. I put God first.
Best memory: Winning regionals and breaking records in the 100, 200 and long jump. Also, becoming the two-time state champ in the 100 and 200, with records in both.
Surprised to learn: Amber Bland is a cousin to me in my heart.
School/grade: West Branch, junior.
Statistics/accomplishments: Division II district, regional and state champion in the 4x400 relay; regional 4x100 relay qualifier; second team all-Northeastern Buckeye Conference; all-Ohio.
Positive influence: My parents and my trainer, Tony Altomare. Tony prepared me for every race, especially the big ones, mentally and physically. He also convinced me to run track and that was pretty good advice!
Best memory: The feeling of relief, amazement and happiness that took over after our 4x400 team won regionals and made it to state. Winning state was another event that was awesome and unforgettable.
Surprised to learn: I ran track this year to get quicker for basketball.
School/grade: Ursuline, sophomore.
Statistics/accomplishments: 400-meter dash champion in the Mahoning County meet. Second place in the 400 in the Steel Valley Conference meet. At the district meet, placed second in the 400, fourth in the 4x400 relay and second in the 4x800 relay. At the regional meet, won the 400, placed sixth in the 4x800 relay and fourth in the 4x400 relay. At the state meet, broke the school record in the 400 during the semifinals and placed second in the finals. Placed sixth in the 4x400 relay.
Positive influence: I have had so many positive influences in my career because I have been running for so long. In school, my positive influences would be Coach Miller and Coach Stroia. They want to help me get better and achieve my goals. They want to see me succeed in life. Out of school, my positive influence would be my Uncle Devereoux, who also wants me to succeed and strive for the very best in the future.
Best memory: When our 4x800 relay placed sixth at regionals and broke the school record, which was set in 1986. Also, when I received the Coach's Award for the 2002-03 school year.
Surprised to learn: July 4-6, I competed in the Youth Athletic National Championships in Buffalo, N.Y., and placed ninth in the 800-meter run, medaled in the 400-meter dash and got eighth in the nation.
School/grade: Boardman, senior.
Statistics/accomplishments: Placed fourth in the state in Division I in pole vault the past two years; holds school record (10 feet, 8 inches); Steel Valley Conference and district champion; regional runner-up; Mahoning County record holder; academic all-Ohio.
Positive influence: My coach, Denise Gorski. If it wasn't for her guidance and concern for others, I would not have had any direction in life. For the past two years, she has helped me tremendously with college choices and found my place on the track team. She brought pole vault back to Boardman and even volunteered her time to drive me to Columbus for lessons. Her cards and words of encouragement she has written or spoken have also impacted my track performances.
Best memory: State was the craziest meet of my life. I didn't make my opening height (10-0) until my third attempt. (My heart was beating so fast I couldn't even hold the pole right.) I closed my eyes in midair on my last jump of the day. (I'm still puzzled as to why I did this.) I achieved a personal best and new school record and was selected for the Midwest Meet of Champions.
Surprised to learn: My pole vault coach, Joe Hammond, is 48 and he can still pole vault. He has cleared over 13-0 (which is higher than most high school boys) in meets this year and lost.
School/grade: Boardman, senior.
Statistics/accomplishments: Holds school records in 400 (57.2), 800 (2:12.9), 4x800 relay (9:11.38), 4x400 relay (4:00.9). All-Steel Valley Conference all four years. Athlete of the Year in 2002 by Competitive Edge and Humility of Mary Health Partners. Academic All-Ohio for three years. Five-time All-Ohioan (4x800 relay and 800). Finished third at state in the 800 in 2003 and anchor of winning 4x800 relay. National qualifier to Junior Nationals in California, at Midwest Meet of Champions at Ohio Wesleyan.
Positive influence: My coach, Denise Gorski, has taught me about true mental strength and maturity. This is the only way I can handle running all my races. She's been a great example of this and she shows it with her great attitude and poise. Our team has so much respect for her. Most importantly, thanks to Jesus Christ for giving me the ability to do all things through Him.
Best memory: When our 4x800 relay team (Brittany Durkin, Sarah Grabert, Jessica Moore and me) ran a great time at state. After we had all finished, most of us had a throw-up fest. It was sickening, but funny.
Surprised to learn: I have the most supportive family and community ever! Like when my mom and dad got T-shirts made for the state meet ("Monica's Mom" and "Monica's Dad"). Also, I am endlessly thankful to all of you in the community who so kindly have given me your support and advice, and even taken the time to follow me in the paper. Thank you to my brothers -- Alan, who went to all my meets, and Jeremy, who went to most of them this year.
School/grade: West Branch, senior.
Statistics/accomplishments: Optimist, Warrior, NBC, Most Valuable Runner. School record holder in the mile (5:06), 4x800 meter relay (9:42), 3200 meter run (10:52). State qualifier in the 1600, 3200 and 4x800 meter relay. Division II state champion in the 3200. Fourth-place finish in the 4x800 relay at the state meet.
Positive influence: My teammates because they are optimistic, positive and cheerful. They make running intervals at practice fun, and they always make me laugh (even during races).
Best memory: Running the 4x800 meter relay at regionals. It was so exciting because we didn't think we would make it to Dayton. Running the relay at state was awesome, too.
School/grade: Maplewood, sophomore.
Statistics/accomplishments: Placed third in high jump, fifth in 100 hurdles and sixth in 300 hurdles in Division III at state; Northeast Athletic Conference MVP.
Positive influence: My parents. They are always encouraging me to do my very best. My dad would always be at the starting line giving me confidence and fighting away the butterflies in my stomach. My mom would always be at the finish line instantly congratulating me after I walked off the track.
Best memory: Almost clearing 5-7 at state -- almost in reach of Anna Marie [Ricciardi].
Surprised to learn: I got bit by a chipmunk when I was 12. I was the first person in Trumbull County to get rabies from a chipmunk. (Don't worry, I got all my shots.)
School/grade: Liberty, junior.
Statistics/accomplishments: 4x100 relay district, regional and state champions; All-Ohio Scholastic Athlete; 300 meter hurdle district and regional champion; 4x200 district, regional champion and fourth place at state meet.
Positive influence: Other than my parents, my coach Jay Cripe is the most positive influence in my track career. He was considerate while I was rehabilitating my injuries. He was understanding while I missed major track meets to take care of personal business. He was patient with me when I had self doubt concerning the hurdles and he was tough on me when I needed it the most.
Best memory: My best memory was from the regional track meet at Ravenna Stadium when I won and qualified for state competition in the 300 meter hurdles and helped Liberty High win a share of the regional championship.
Surprised to learn: Although I have not competed in this event since the eighth grade, the long jump is my favorite event.
School/grade: Liberty, sophomore.
Statistics/accomplishments: Member of district, regional and state champion 4x100 relay team; regional qualifier in 100 hurdles.
Positive influence: Sandy Sabo, my gymnastics coach. She helped build my self esteem and taught me to reach as high as I can.
Best memory: Winning the state 4x100 and setting a new state record after 22 years.
ANNA MARIE RICCIARDI
School/grade: Western Reserve, senior.
Statistics/accomplishments: MVP Inter-County League meet, ICL champions, Div. III county champions, MVP Northeast Ohio Invitational, top female track athlete in Mahoning County by track officials, state interscholastic high jump record (5-9), Mahoning County High School Rob Ruane Memorial Award. School records in the 100 hurdles and high jump. State, regional and district high jump champion. Seventh place at state in 100 hurdles (15.4). Personal bests are 15.4 in the 100 hurdles and 5-9 in high jump.
Positive influence: Charles, Anthony and Louis. My brothers have always been a great influence in my career. From an early age I watched them and wanted to be like them. They were all athletes and so they know what I go through. I always love to see their faces at my games or meets, to hear them cheering and to get their hugs afterwards. Thanks, guys!
Best memory: When I broke the state record in the high jump. I almost didn't believe it, so I kept asking the officials if they were sure they measured it right.
School/grade: Warren JFK, senior.
Statistics/accomplishments: Division III state discus champion -- the first girl in school history to win a track title; placed fifth in shot put at state; went undefeated in discus during the season, winning four meet MVPs and setting school, county, district and several meet records in the discus; won Midwest Meet of Champions in discus; will attend Michigan State on a throwing scholarship.
Positive influence: My coach, Mr. Domitrovich. He's been my coach for four years and is always pushing me to be the best I can be. He's taught me that with hard work and determination, you can succeed. He's become more than a coach -- he's a friend who always believed in me. I will surely miss him next year.
Best memory: Receiving my gold medal on the top of the podium and listening to everyone clap as they announced my name and knowing I was the first girl in school history to do this.
Surprised to learn: I've played soccer for 13 years and enjoy refereeing soccer games as well. I was named young female referee of the year last year in northeast Ohio.
School/grade: West Branch, junior.
Statistics/accomplishments: Member of Division II state champion 4x400 relay.
Positive influence: Bobbi Cameron. She has always encouraged me to be the best and to run my hardest. She has shown me some really good running techniques and has helped me develop a good image for myself as a person and as an athlete.
Best memory: I remember how nervous I was when I was standing at the starting line for the 4x400 relay at the state meet, and how happy I was when we won. I'm not sure I will ever have those feelings again, but maybe next year.
Surprised to learn: I'm a natural blonde. I once tried to color my hair, but I couldn't get the box of crayons open.
School/grade: Liberty, junior.
Statistics/accomplishments: Member of Division II state champion 4x100 relay, which broke the state meet record; member of fourth-place 4x200 relay at state; set meet record in 100 at Poland Invitational; placed third in 100 at TAC-8 and Trumbull County meets.
Positive influence: My parents. They kept my head up when I was down and were by my side all the way. And my little brother, Robbie -- he hyped me when I needed it.
Best memory: When I ran 12.0 at the Poland Invitational in the semifinals. I guess my excitement got the best of me -- I turned around in the finals and ran a 13.01.
Surprised to learn: I have watched every single episode of SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon. It is my favorite cartoon.
School/grade: West Branch, sophomore.
Statistics/accomplishments: Clipper Invitational: 1st place 4x800, 1st place 400-meter dash, 1st place 200-meter dash; Mahoning County meet: 3rd place 4x800, 4th place 800-meter run; Northeastern Buckeye Conference Championship meet: 1st place 4x800, 2nd place 800-meter run, 1st place 4x400 relay; districts: 3rd place 4x800, 5th place 400 meter, 1st place 4x400 relay; regionals: 4th place 4x800, 1st place 4x400 relay; state: 4th place 4x800, 1st place 4x400 relay. NBC 1st team, All-Ohio athlete, All-Ohio Academic. Holds the school record in the 4x800 and the 4x400. Ward Invitational Meet: 1st place 800-meter run, 2nd place 200 meter dash.
Positive influence: Teammate Lisa Davies has given me solid advice and support during practice and meets that has helped me focus on better training and resulted in higher accomplishments. I can only hope to achieve her attitude and work ethic as I continue my track & amp; field career. Also, Coach Bob Altenhof for his knowledgeable input in every aspect of the meet. I always felt prepared for the big meets.
Best memory: Standing on the podium after the 4x400 relay knowing that I was part of the first-ever state champion relay team from West Branch. It was extra special since it was 10 minutes after Lisa Davies won state in the 3200-meter run.
Surprised to learn: I am a Girl Scout working on my "Gold Award." I also "Pig Wrestle" every year at the local fair.
School/grade: West Branch, senior.
Statistics/accomplishments: Northeastern Buckeye Conference champs. Regional and state qualifier. Regional champs. Broke the 4x400 record (3:59.21) and the 4x200 record (1:45).
Positive influence: My parents. They're my biggest fans. They have never missed a track meet. I know I can count on them for encouragement to do anything I put my mind to, and for always believing in me. They are incredible people.
Best memory: Winning the 4x400 at state with my teammates and standings on the podium looking into the crowd.
Surprised to learn: I'm a very energetic person. I am easy to get along with and I love running.
School/grade: Liberty, senior.
Statistics/accomplishments: District championship, regional championship as a team. MVP at Poland Invitational. Returned to state for the fourth year in a row, taking second in the 100, fourth in the 200, fourth in the 4x200 relay and first in the 4x100 relay.
Positive influence: My coach, Jay Cripe, for putting up with me for four years. For always believing in me and helping me to strive to be the best. For never letting me settle for nothing less than my best. Some days at practice I would be in pain from my ankle, but I would be scared to tell him because I was afraid of what he would say. He has helped me a lot during these last four years. I will truly miss him next year.
Best memory: When we won the district championship and turned around and won the regional championship.
Surprised to learn: This fall, I will be attending Bowling Green State University, where I will run track. My planned major will be accounting.
COACH OF THE YEAR
School/grade: West Branch.
Statistics/accomplishments: Led team to 8-0 record and Northeastern Buckeye Conference championship; regional champions; voted NBC coach of the year; placed fifth in the state in Division II.
Positive influence: The outstanding student-athletes at West Branch.
Best memory: Winning the first two individual state track championships in school history (3200 and 4x400 relay) in back-to-back events.