Distance sweep: Sofia Istnick helps Jackson girls track and field land 12th district title

·3 min read
Sofia Istnick (left) finished first and Kailey Zagst (right) of Jackson finished second in the girls 1,600-meter run at Friday's Division I district track and field meet.
Sofia Istnick (left) finished first and Kailey Zagst (right) of Jackson finished second in the girls 1,600-meter run at Friday's Division I district track and field meet.

NORTH CANTON — Sofia Istnick never will take moments like this for granted.

The Jackson distance runner's high school career will end in the coming weeks. The final chapter she writes is still to be determined.

All Istnick could do Friday was make the most out of her final Division I district meet appearance at Hoover. Two grueling wins were worth the big prize she and her teammates received.

Istnick's wins in the mile and two mile helped the Polar Bears land their 12th district team title. It will be the final one for head coach Rick Neitzelt, who is retiring at the end of the season.

"It's all ending perfectly," Istnick said. "It's my last season, his last season. This is coming to a really nice close. We're all just really excited to be here and finish it off together."

Istnick and teammate Kailey Zagst delivered a decisive blow to anyone hoping to catch the Polar Bears for the team title. They combined for 36 points in the mile and two mile alone. Zagst was runner-up in both races.

Sydney Stepanovich (center) anchors GlenOak's winning 800-meter relay team at Friday's Division I district track and field meet.
Sydney Stepanovich (center) anchors GlenOak's winning 800-meter relay team at Friday's Division I district track and field meet.

"I'm honored to be able to be here, especially with my teammate," Istnick said. "I thought we were working off each other. It was great and exciting.

"I've been lucky to have a teammate like her. A lot of people aren't as lucky to have someone so talented, so driven and also positive.

"She has made me the runner I am today. I wouldn't be here without her."

Istnick and Zagst helped the Polar Bears get off to a fast start Wednesday when they ran on the winning 3,200 relay. Leena Patibandla won Jackson's other district titles in the high jump and discus.

Jackson appears in great shape heading into next week's regional at Austintown Fitch.

"I think we have a lot of potential," Istnick said. "I think we're hitting our stride right now. Working together, I think we can do great things."

Caleb Ruffin (left) of McKinley finished first in the boys 100-meter dash, while his brother Colin Ruffin (right) finished second at Friday's Division I district track and field meet.
Caleb Ruffin (left) of McKinley finished first in the boys 100-meter dash, while his brother Colin Ruffin (right) finished second at Friday's Division I district track and field meet.

Wait worth it for GlenOak's Layne Studer

The pressure was off Layne Studer when the finish of Wednesday's boys pole vault was postponed because of weather.

The GlenOak junior already had a regional berth wrapped up. Anything that happened Friday was a bonus.

What a bonus. Studer jumped a school-record 15 feet, 1.75 inches to win the district championship and put the Golden Eagles on track to a team title. They also won last week's Federal League meet.

"I came here and did what I needed to do," Studer said. "I always try to go for PRs and jump as high as I can."

District Track/Sectional Baseball: Friday roundup: Dylan Rouse leads Central baseball to a sectional final win, district track results

After falling one spot shy of a regional berth in 2021, Studer is building momentum this season. He was first at the Euclid Relays earlier this month and runner-up at last week's Federal League. His last three top heights have all been personal bests.

"It's right where I'm supposed to be," Studer said. "All I have to do is keep going up from here."

Studer was the only GlenOak boys district champion. As they have in the past, the Golden Eagles use their depth to pile up points. They finished 16.5 points ahead of runner-up Hoover.

"I believe in my team this year," Studer said. "We are where we're supposed to be."

Reach Mike at mike.popovich@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @mpopovichREP

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Layne Studer wins pole vault, leads GlenOak boys to district title