Division III track: Cardinal's Avalon brother-sister combo want memorable finish to season

·4 min read

May 18—Big brother always seems to lead the way for his younger siblings.

The Avalon family and the Cardinal track team hopes that's the case this weekend, as well.

Senior John Avalon punched his ticket to next week's Division III regional track meet by placing second in the discus at the Cuyahoga Heights District on May 18. Now he hopes sister Audrey, a junior follow suit on Day 2 of the meet on May 20.

John Avalon's throw of 132-0 into the teeth of a sheeting rain placed second in the discus to Gilmour's C.J. Johnson (152-6) to clinch his first-ever regional berth. While Audrey Avalon barely missed out in placing fifth (31-1 1/2) in the shot put — only the top four advance to the regional meet — the brother-sister tandem are planning on lil sis making it in the discus on May 20 to complete a dream the pair have had for a while.

"This is the last time I'll be competing with my sister," John said. "It should be fun on Friday. I want her to make it so we can both be there next week practicing one last time."

PHOTOS: Division II district track and field, May 18, 2022

While both Avalons were concentrating on their own events on May 18, they couldn't help but to keep an eye on each other. After Audrey would throw, she'd strain to her tippy toes to see over the crowd to see how big brother was doing. John stood nearby in between his throws and clapped with each of his sister's throws.

"It's exciting and fun," Audrey said. "It's a little competitive. If he makes it to regionals, I want to make it to regionals. If he throws a bomb, I want to throw a bomb."

Two Huskie throws qualified on Day 1 of the meet. Avalon's weight-throwing partner, Mike Soltis, also punched a ticket to next week's regional with a fourth-place finish of 126-3.

Aside from the Avalons wanting to make up for short time, Fairport's Zake Malkimaki and AOA's Tai Roberts have big plans.

Malkimaki set a PR in the pole vault at 11-feet — good for second place — to qualify for next week's regional tournament. He also qualified for the May 18 finals in the 100 hurdles by blowing away everyone else in his heat and finishing with the second-overall prelim time of 16.81.

Roberts, a newbie to track, won her heat of the 400 after achieving All-Ohio status in basketball this past winter. She'll head into the May 18 finals with the top prelim time of 1:02.82.

"I did cross country, so I'm used to this weather," Roberts said after winning her heat. "This is my first year doing track. We never had a track team before. I've been told I'm fast, so I figured I'd try track this year when basketball ended."

She will run in the 400 finals on May 20 as one of the top qualifying seeds in the meet.

Malkimaki missed the district last year because he had a previously scheduled family event in Tennessee. He said he hopes he can make up for that this week and beyond.

"I'm really motivated," he said. "I was really sad missing it last year, but had to go to Tennessee. But I'm a lot better this year."

Aside from Johnson, John Avalon and Soltis in the boys discus and Malkimaki in the boys pole vault, others from the area who clinched regional berths with top-four finishes on May 18 were Cardinal's Karalyn Rutkowski (fourth in the girls high jump with a 5-0), Gilmour's Brayden Green (second in the boys long jump with a 20-2 1/2) and Cardinal's Anthony Soltis (third in the boys pole vault with a 10-6).

Many others qualified for Day 2 of the meet. Results can be found here. Action on May 20 begins at 4 p.m. with field events, with finals of running events beginning at 5:30 p.m.