Here are five takeaways from the Division II Lakeview District meet:
1. Field seniors Emily Davis, Ali Morris take 1-2 in discus
A year ago at Austintown, Ali Morris went from one of the top seeds to an eighth-place finish, while Emily Davis didn't even get to throw for a deep Falcons team.
On Saturday, the two stood grinning right at the top of the podium at Greenwood Falcon Stadium as Davis (131-10) and Morris (129-03) took the top two spots.
"It's really awesome to have her," Davis said. "Throughout the whole season, we've just been going back and forth and she's probably the best thing about this because we just pushed each other constantly and I feel like I couldn't have done it without her."
Morris wasted little time shaking off whatever bad memories she had from a year prior, starting with a solid throw of 118-04, then hitting 129-03 on her second toss.
"When I came back to practice the next day [last year], I was really devastated because I really thought I was going to make it," Morris said. "We went to the Optimist Meet here [earlier this year] and that was like flashbacks, but then once I threw at Optimist and I threw pretty well that day, so I got all my nerves out, so coming here today was less nerve-wracking."
Davis was no less impressive.
Not only did she capture a regional title but all six of her throws were above 117 feet. In other words, all six of her throws would have gotten her to state.
The pair will join teammate Emma Rotondo at state, with the senior qualifying in the shot put two days earlier with a third-place throw of 39-00.50.
2. Streetsboro junior Micah Schuster glides to 400 title
Few student-athletes have had a more impressive campaign than Micah Schuster and the Streetsboro junior shone once again Saturday afternoon.
After failing to make it out of Austintown as an individual a year ago, and not even making it to the regional final in the 400 last season, Schuster captured a regional title in that event Saturday.
"The next-best guy was outside of me so I kept my eyes on him the whole time," Schuster said. "I started my kick a little bit early and made sure I got in front of him on the curve. I felt him through the end of the curve and I was able to push myself to stay ahead of him."
The time difference was no less remarkable.
A season ago, Schuster crossed the line in 52.14 to take 10th.
On Saturday, he was nearly three full seconds faster, finishing in 49.28.
"He is getting stronger and stronger and more confident every time he runs," Rockets coach Robb Kidd said. "I thought every one of his legs he ran today was phenomenal. We had him somewhere at a mid-to-low 48 in his split on the 4x4. I think another 10 meters, he catches those kids. He finished so strong there. His open 400, he led that pretty much from start to finish. They tried to push up on him in that final straightaway, but he's just so strong."
3. Field senior Hannah Siudak, Garfield senior Ryan Stoller advance in two hurdles events apiece
A year ago, Hannah Siudak's remarkable rise to state runner-up in the 300 hurdles was prefaced by a disappointing fall in the 100 at Austintown.
There was no fall this time around as the Field senior qualified in both hurdles events with a pair of third-place finishes.
"It just means the world to me," Siudak said. "As my senior year, it's like this is my last shot for everything, so I knew that especially the 100, it was really important for me to get out because it's my last chance. The season is coning to an end."
And to put that third into context, Siudak's 44.60 would have won titles in any of the three other Division II regions: Chillicothe, Lexington and Piqua.
"We definitely have the hardest region," Siudak said. "I mean you could hear it when they were announcing the 300 hurdles, they said that we got the fourth in the state, we got the first in the state, the second in the state. It definitely makes you feel like two state meets, because I'm running against the same girls twice, but at the same time, that just means that I get that great competition for two meets in a row and it just gives me a better chance to push myself and get better times, so I'm grateful for that."
As for Garfield senior Ryan Stoller, he wasn't thrilled with his performance, but the result was hard to argue as he made state in both the 110 and 300 hurdles.
"Today was a really rough day for me," Stoller said. "Even 110, I was leading the pack over hurdle five. Hurdle six, I absolutely annihilated with my heel on my way over. Hurdle seven was clean and then hurdles eight, nine and 10, I also hit. All of that lost me momentum."
Even so, Stoller, who took fourth in the 110 and 300, battled through and has now qualified for state in all three seasons in which he had a chance. (His sophomore season was wiped out due to COVID-19.)
"I'm just grateful for it," Stoller said. "I know all the work that I put in, all the time I've spent perfecting my craft and the amount of hours spent in the gym and the amount of hours outside on a track when we don't even own one. I'm driving 25 minutes to go get track work in. It's just really rewarding seeing me carry that tradition of making it to state every year."
4. Streetsboro sends two relays to state
Sometimes an individual or relay can glide into state.
More often, especially in a meat-grinder like the Austintown Regional, it turns into a desperate battle.
That was certainly the case for the Rockets' 4x100 and 4x200 relays, which both snagged the fourth and final automatic qualifying bid to state.
"We still didn't run perfect today," Kidd said. "Made a couple mistakes on a few of the sticks, but we ran well. We just got to hit on a few technical things."
The 4x100 featuring senior Elijah Landres, junior Omari Steve and sophomores Preston Hopperton and Kylan Rue took an especially dramatic path to state as they secured the eighth and final spot out of Thursday's preliminary run before snagging the final automatic qualifying spot in the finals.
5. Riley LaPorte breaks Garfield record in the shot put
The start was auspicious as the shot put throwers waited out a seemingly endless delay on a somewhat chilly morning.
The result was plenty good enough as Garfield senior Riley LaPorte tossed a 59-00.25 on his first throw of the day to advance to the state meet in the shot.
That mark didn't just set a personal record.
It also broke coach Matt Pfleger's school record.
"During football season, I still come out after practice and throw," LaPorte said. "I've been working hard for that school record, and the new PR, it just means a lot, and just seeing the faces on my coaches, it's just I know they're proud of me, but I'm not done yet."
That means LaPorte will go to state in two events, as he already qualified in the discus (3rd, 157-04) along with teammate Jesse Grace Thursday evening.
"Honestly, it hasn't really hit me yet, but I know that going down to state with Jesse is going to be a lot of fun, especially when we're both in the same event," LaPorte said. "I didn't make it for discus last year. but this year I think I really improved and Jesse has really improved, too."
This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Takeaways from the Division II Austintown Regional track & field meet