Even the most anticipated finales can end on a low note.
The Solon Comets boys’ track team concluded their final Greater Cleveland Conference meet having their six-year run as champions snapped, finishing as the runners-up with 133 points at Mentor’s Jerome T. Osbourne Stadium last week.
The Comets relinquished the GCC crown to Medina, which blew away the field by scoring 51 points in the distance events, finishing with 150.5 points.
“It was definitely close as expected,” said Solon Coach Dan Iwan. “Medina has an excellent team and an elite distance crew that probably put them over the top and some really good coaching. We knew it would be tough and they are a good team and they earned the win and that is the way it goes sometimes.”
Senior Joel Kpassou finished as the runner-up in the 100-meters, at 10.85 seconds, followed by junior Brian McQuaide who came in sixth place clocking 11.31 seconds.
Kpassou won the 200-meters at 22.02 seconds, followed by sophomore Eric Del Torto who took third with 22.65 seconds.
Senior Matt Headen finished first in the 400-meters at 49.62 seconds.
Solon kept pace with the Bees by scoring 35 points in the sprint events.
“I thought our sprinters were just outstanding,” said the 18th-year coach. “They were really outstanding. I cannot really remember a meet where I walked out of there being as satisfied with what our sprinters did. In a league that is really difficult and really tough, that is really impressive.”
Senior James Howell captured fourth in the 800-meters at 1:56.16, followed by senior Charlie Kasper who took fifth in 1:58.53.
Howell also came in fourth place in the 1600-meters at 4:18.22
Senior Brandon Esper snagged sixth place in the 3200-meters with 9:56.58.
Del Torto took third in the 110-meter hurdles with 15.15 seconds, followed by junior Antonio Coleman who finished in fifth place at 15.22 seconds.
Freshman Cole Taylor came in fifth in the 300-meter hurdles, timing out at 40.86 seconds.
Junior Donovan Smith, Kpassou, Del Torto, and McQuiade teamed up to form the “A” squad in the 4x200 relay, winning in 1:28.25, surpassing the previous school record 1:28.37 set in 2010 by Khoury Crenshaw, Matt Thompson, Kevin Hicks and Robert McNair.
“We were all pumped about it and were all excited,” said Iwan. “We were close throughout the year in doing something good in that event and something would always happen, whether it was always weather or somebody got a bad exchange or somebody did not run as well as we would have thought. Something kept us from registering a really good mark. We knew we were close and the boys had a lot of confidence.”
The “A” quartet of Senior Jack Behm, Headen, Smith and Howell won the 4x400 relay in 3:22.54.
Senior Jaelin Apple, McQuaide, Kpassou and Del Torto won the 4x100 relay with a time of 42.57 seconds.
The “A” team of Headen, Kasper, Behm and Howell took third in the 4x800 relay at 7:56.58.
Freshman Jonathan Kambani tied for second place with Medina junior Austin Knowles in the high jump at 6 feet, followed by senior Jordan Dotson who took fourt at 5 feet, 10 inches.
Senior Alex Bzdafka won the pole vault, jumping 14 feet.
Coleman placed third in the long jump at 20 feet, 8½ inches.
Senior Blake Hogeler won the shot put, throwing 49 feet, 1 inch.
Hoegler also came in third in the discus at 122 feet, 8 inches.
The Comet girls made their final stand in the GCC, finishing in third place with 122 points, 12 points shy of match first-place Mentor’s 134 points and only 1.33 points away from Medina which took second.
“Going in we felt that there were three teams that had an opportunity to be able to win and there were a lot of things that could have swayed things one way or the other and unfortunately we did not catch a break when we needed it but it was fun and exciting,” said Coach Brian Sabol. ”The girls gave it their all to the very end but unfortunately it did not turn out the way we wanted it to.”
Freshman Cariona Lewis took fifth in the 100-meters, timing out at 13.03 seconds.
Lewis finished as the runner-up in the 200-meters, clocking 26.26 seconds, followed by junior Nia Booker who came in sixth place with 26.85 seconds.
Lewis captured second in the 400-meters with a time of 57.43 seconds, followed by Booker who took fourth with 1:00.26 and senior Kennedy Ford who placed sixth at 1:01.43.
Senior Sarah Baker took fifth in the 3200-meters, stopping the clock at 11:43.99.
Solon was undone by scoring only two points in the distance events, compared to 36 points from the Cardinals and 21 points by the Bees.
“I would venture to say when you take Mentor, Medina and Brunswick you might be looking at the best distance conference in Northeast Ohio,” said the fourth-year coach. “It might be one of the best just statewide. The level of competition is crazy for such a small conference.”
Senior Morgan Blackford took second in the 100-meter hurdles at 15.40 seconds, followed by her younger sister Mackenzie who placed fourth at 16.21 seconds.
Morgan, a United States Naval Academy commit, won the 300-meter hurdles with 45.04 seconds, followed by Mackenzie who came in second at 46.90 seconds.
The “A” team of senior Alayah Smith, junior Keira McAndrew, freshmen Zoe Russell and Evan Nathanson took third in the 4x100 relay with 51.49 seconds.
“I don’t think they get a whole lot of credit because they do not have the big names on the team like the Blackford sisters or Booker but they ran really well,” Sabol said. “They were not expected to finish that high and for them to take third place and to be able to score for us I was really excited about that.”
Ford, Mackenzie, Morgan and Booker came in fourth in the 4x200 relay, clocking 1:50.47.
Lewis, Mackenzie, Morgan and Ford formed the “A” squad in the 4x400 relay, winning the race at 3:58.62.
Senior Angeline Getz, sophomore Josie Howard, freshman Camryn Cayne and Baker finished in fifth place in the 4x800 relay at 10:14.40.
Smith tied for second in the high jump with Brunswick freshman Natalie Tracy, clearing the bar at 4 feet, 10 inches, but Smith was awarded second-place points for beating Tracy in the tiebreaker.
Smith also placed fourth in the long jump, jumping 16 feet, ½ inches.
Senior Hannah Olszewski took second in the shot put at 36 feet, 5 inches.
Olszewski won the discus at 117 feet, 4 inches, followed by senior Kate Molyneaux who came in second place with a personal record 105 feet, 4 inches.
Following the start of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I Austintown-Fitch district meet on Wednesday, Solon will conclude its efforts competing for regional berths at Greenwood Chevrolet Austintown Falcon Stadium in Youngstown 5 p.m. Friday.
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