Seven takeaways from the Portage Trail Conference Championships

·11 min read
Rootstown's Nick Roberts, center, and Donovan Birkett, left, delivered individual championships in the 100 and 400, respectively, to help lift the Rovers to their first league title since 1993.
Rootstown's Nick Roberts, center, and Donovan Birkett, left, delivered individual championships in the 100 and 400, respectively, to help lift the Rovers to their first league title since 1993.

Here are seven takeaways from the Portage Trail Conference Championships:

Rootstown boys capture first league title since 1993

The Rovers have long been a solid track and field program.

But something always stood in the way of the Rootstown boys when it came to the league meet, whether it was Woodridge for many years, or more recently Garfield.

On Friday, the Rovers broke through for their first league title since 1993, capturing the Portage Trail Conference Championships with 138 points. (Mogadore and Warren John F. Kennedy tied for second with 106.)

"It's huge," Rootstown senior sprinter Nick Roberts said. "It's awesome going out PTC champs as a senior. That's awesome, but I think I just did my part. Everyone else did theirs."

Tack on the girls' third straight league title, as Rootstown held off a Mogadore team on the rise, 174-158, and the Rovers pulled off a rare sweep. That also meant that for Rootstown's eight senior girls, they never finished anything other than first at the PTC Championships. Tack on the Class of 2022's titles in seventh and eighth grade and the Rovers' senior class captured five straight league championships.

"From day one, they've been great leaders," Rootstown girls coach Kyle Rodstrom said. "They've been stepping up doing a lot of different things, and they made this work this year, for sure."

Balance stands out for Rootstown boys

Friday wasn't about one or two star athletes for the Rootstown boys.

Indeed, the Rovers won just four individual titles on the day: Roberts (100), senior Donovan Birkett (400) and junior Caleb Cutright (1600 and 3200).

Even so, they were able to win the team title, by a significant margin, thanks to scoring in every event at the PTC Championships, including finishing with multiple scorers in 10 of 12 eligible events. Overall, including relays, Rootstown recorded a top-three finish in 13 of 16 events.

"Everyone did their part and that's what matters," Cutright said. "Everyone came in with a focused mindset."

Caleb Cutright, Nick Roberts step up for Rootstown

Rootstown junior Caleb Cutright captured titles in the 1600, pictured, and 3200 at the 2022 Portage Trail Conference Championships.
Rootstown junior Caleb Cutright captured titles in the 1600, pictured, and 3200 at the 2022 Portage Trail Conference Championships.

The Rovers got a number of key contributions from relatively new faces.

Take Cutright, who led the Rovers boys with two titles Friday, as he captured both the 1600 and 3200 by fewer than two-and-a-half seconds, a relatively tight margin for a distance race.

"I came in nervous. I was doubting myself a little bit, but I came, I warmed up, I felt good," Cutright said. "[I was] just able to kick it in [the] last 300 meters on both races."

Cutright's achievement was particularly remarkable given he didn't even get to run at last year's PTC Championships as he was behind graduated standout Evan Piscitani.

"Evan Piscitani was always in front of me, it was very difficult," Cutright said. "I didn't even run here last year, so this year was just awesome to be able to come out and do my job and my part in helping the team win."

Similarly, Roberts went from not coming out for track as a freshman (and not getting to compete as a sophomore when everyone missed out due to COVID-19) to earning a league title as a senior. Roberts was a solid sprinter last year, taking third in the PTC, but he's taken big strides this season, in part because he's no longer had to miss practices due to work.

Those extra practices shone through Friday, not just in the fact that he won the 100 title, but in the impressive time he ran (11.39).

"Last year, I worked a lot so I missed a lot of the hard practices," Roberts said. "So I guess coming to practice every day this year really helped."

Rootstown girls overcome Mogadore's distance onslaught to capture PTC title

The Rovers girls were no less impressive Friday, capturing the PTC title despite the Wildcats' excellence in the distance races, as Mogadore went 1-2 in the 400, 800, 1600 and 3200.

How did Rootstown do it?

Well, the Rovers fought hard for points in those same distance races as Katie Plecko took third in the 800 and 1600 and Sydney Munger did the same in the 3200. Meanwhile, Rootstown senior Marinna Atanmo swept the hurdles titles, and the Rovers picked up 1-2 finishes in the discus (champion Brooklynn McIntyre and runner-up Autumn Stefancik) and high jump (champion Aubrey Kline and runner-up Kelsie Hamrick).

Rootstown ultimately scored 32 out of a possible 36 points out of the two jumping events as Rylee Durbak (15-07.75) and Cameron Kuharich (15-06.25) finished 2-3 in the long jump.

Marinna Atanmo sweeps hurdles at PTC Championships

Rootstown senior Marinna Atanmo competes in the 100-meter dash at the 2022 Portage Trail Conference Championships.
Rootstown senior Marinna Atanmo competes in the 100-meter dash at the 2022 Portage Trail Conference Championships.

Mogadore Memorial Stadium has special meaning for Marinna Atanmo.

It's where she began her hurdling career a little over a year ago.

Starting with a meet in Mogadore, Atanmo quickly took to the 300 hurdles in 2021, journeying all the way to a third-place finish at the state meet.

This season, Atanmo has taken on a new challenge, picking up the 100 hurdles midway through the campaign.

"Being in the 100 hurdles for the first time for PTCs was super exciting," Atanmo said. "I really like the 100 hurdles. I didn't think I was going to actually be able to do well in those because I was having trouble getting over the higher height at first at practice and stuff, so we were unsure."

Well, if she was once unsure about the 100 hurdles, Atanmo left no doubt Friday, capturing first place in the PTC with a time of 16.54.

"I just really enjoy doing other things in between running because I think doing the hurdles and stuff kind of breaks up the running and makes it more fun," said Atanmo, explaining how she has taken to the hurdles so quickly. "It's just easier to do it that way, and I've had great teammates showing me how to do it and always telling me how to correct my form and stuff."

Katie Lane excels for Mogadore

Mogadore sophomore Katie Lane leads the way in the 1600 at the Portage Trail Conference Championships.
Mogadore sophomore Katie Lane leads the way in the 1600 at the Portage Trail Conference Championships.

A scorching sun made any race hard Friday.

Especially a distance race.

Let alone two.

Or three.

Temperatures in the 80s and summerlike humidity couldn't stop Katie Lane, however, as the Wildcats sophomore took on a punishing workload (running the 800, 1600 and 3200 Friday as well as the 4x800 Wednesday) and picked up titles in all four events.

"To do the 4x8, the eight, the 16 and the 32, you have to be a little crazy, but again, outstanding kid, person, outstanding athlete, great character, great leadership skills," Mogadore girls coach Kim Kreiner said. "She's like the Energizer Bunny. She just keeps going."

Mia Gaetjens, Rachel Whetstone join Lane in providing distance depth

Mogadore's Rachel Whetstone, left, runs alongside Rootstown's Sydney Munger in the 1600 at Friday's Portage Trail Conference Championships.
Mogadore's Rachel Whetstone, left, runs alongside Rootstown's Sydney Munger in the 1600 at Friday's Portage Trail Conference Championships.

Lane was far from alone Friday.

Junior teammate Rachel Whetstone crossed the line less than a tenth of a second after Lane in the 800. Whetstone (5:44.59) also earned runner-up honors behind Lane (5:19.90) in the 1600.

Mogadore also notched a 1-2 finish in the 3200, as sophomore Mia Gaetjens (13:03.51) followed Lane (12:19.12) across the line, and the 400, as freshman Julia Tompkins (1:00.72) and senior Amber Morris (1:01.99) crossed the line one after the other.

"Having a Katie Lane push people, Rachel Whetstone is starting to get up there and competing right there with her and everybody else is kind of upping their game because they know if they want a spot they're going to have to run," Kreiner said. "It's just great for this program to see them compete like this and to push each other."

The Wildcats' dominance in Friday's distance races was a big part of the team's huge improvement overall. A year ago, Mogadore finished third, 95 points behind first-place Rootstown. This season, the Wildcats took second, just 16 points behind the Rovers.

"Our program has grown just numbers-wise where we were fielding anywhere from 13 to 15 girls and struggling to put together a team to where now we've got 27 girls on the team, which makes it much better," Kreiner said. "Especially in that distance crew, they love running, they love competing, so they're each pushing each other, which then it's showing up in spades in the results."

Portage Trail Conference Championships results:

Here are the top-three finishers in every event:

Boys

Team Scores: 1. Rootstown 138, T2. Mogadore 106, T2. JFK 106, 4. Southeast 80, 5. LCC 45, 6. Aquinas 17

100 Dash: 1. Nick Roberts (Rootstown) 11.39, 2. Antonio Smith (JFK) 11.46, Antwan Brown (JFK) 11.48

200 Dash: 1. Antwan Brown (JFK) 23.32, 2. Donovan McCoy (JFK) 23.38, 3. Donovan Birkett (Rootstown) 24.33

400 Dash: 1. Donovan Birkett (Rootstown) 51.06, 2. Jacob Wyder (LCC) 52.66, 3. Dylan Furry (Rootstown) 54.77

800 Run: 1. Alejandro Navarrete (Mogadore) 2:04.20, 2. Chase Osborne (Southeast) 2:08.22, 3. Brady Fillmore (Rootstown) 2:11.75

1600 Run: 1. Caleb Cutright (Rootstown) 4:52.02, 2. Logan Mackey (Southeast) 4:54.46, 3. Alejandro Navarrete (Mogadore) 4:55.82

3200 Run: 1. Caleb Cutright (Rootstown) 11:11.08, 2. Christopher Kline (LCC) 11:13.04, 3. Carter Evens (Southeast) 11:16.37

Seated 100: 1. Jamie Loughney (Mogadore) 48.81

110 Hurdles: 1. Mason Murphy (Mogadore) 15.99, 2. Aiden Rodstrom (Rootstown) 16.15, 3. Simon Halaszi (Rootstown) 17.94

300 Hurdles: 1. Mason Murphy (Mogadore) N/A, 2. Aiden Rodstrom (Rootstown) N/A, 3. Nathan Cuckovich (JFK) N/A

4x100: 1. JFK (Antonio Smith, Donovan McCoy, Thomas Easton, Antwan Brown) 44.16, 2. Southeast 46.35, 3. LCC 47.28

4x200: 1. JFK (Antonio Smith, Donovan McCoy, Thomas Easton, Antwan Brown) 1:31.02, 2. Rootstown 1:38.38, 3. LCC 1:38.59

4x400: 1. Mogadore (Aiden Hiney, Alejandro Navarrete, Logan Stonestreet, Mason Murphy) 3:33.69, 2. Rootstown 3:37.95, 3. JFK 3:48.45

4x800: 1. Mogadore (Daniel Carter, Ryan Keren, Alejandro Navarrete, Aiden Roman) 8:40.72, 2. Rootstown 8:41.44, 3. Southeast 9:18.12

High Jump: 1. Mason Murphy (Mogadore) 6-02, 2. Caden Bailey (Southeast) 5-08, 3. Gavin Berka (Southeast) 5-04

Long Jump: 1. Caden Bailey (Southeast) 20-08.50, 2. Aiden Hiney (Mogadore) 19-02.75, 3. Dylan Furry (Rootstown) 19-01.25

Shot Put: 1. Eddie Kiernan (JFK) 45-03, 2. Andrew Kelchner (Southeast) 43-06, 3. Brady Mocella (JFK) 41-04

Discus: 1. Eddie Kiernan (JFK) 148-07.50, 2. Brady Corley (Southeast) 120-10.75, 3. Gianni Damicone (Rootstown) 117-10

Seated Shot Put: 1. Jamie Loughney (Mogadore) 8-02.00

Girls

Team Scores: 1. Rootstown 174, 2. Mogadore 158, 3. LCC 79, 4. Southeast 33, 5. Aquinas 29, 6. JFK 19

Girls 100 Dash: 1. Medgine Wojton (LCC) 12.68, 2. Marinna Atanmo (Rootstown) 12.84, 3. Chloe Coates (JFK) 13.07

Girls 200 Dash: 1. Medgine Wojton (LCC) 25.95, 2. Marinna Atanmo (Rootstown) 26.81, 3. Chloe Coates (JFK) 27.07

Girls 400 Dash: 1. Julie Tompkins (Mogadore) 1:00.72, 2. Amber Morris (Mogadore) 1:01.99, 3. Chloe Coates (JFK) 1:02.38

Girls 800 Run: 1. Katie Lane (Mogadore) 2:29.47, 2. Rachel Whetstone (Mogadore) 2:29.58, 3. Katie Plecko (Rootstown) 2:32.89

Girls 1600 Run: 1. Katie Lane (Mogadore) 5:19.90, 2. Rachel Whetstone (Mogadore) 5:44.59, 3. Katie Plecko (Rootstown) 5:50.34

Girls 3200 Run: 1. Katie Lane (Mogadore) 12:19.12, 2. Mia Gaetjens (Mogadore) 13:03.51, 3. Sydney Munger (Rootstown) 13:20.68

Girls 100 Hurdles: 1. Marinna Atanmo (Rootstown) 16.54, 2. Carlee Clifford (Rootstown) 17.17, 3. Katherine Holler (Mogadore) 17.27

Girls 300 Hurdles: 1. Marinna Atanmo (Rootstown) N/A, 2. Katherine Holler (Mogadore) N/A, 3. Ava Pletcher (LCC) N/A

4x100: 1. LCC (Tamisha Twitty, Morgan Swartzentruber, Sarah Stock, Medgine Wojton) 51.16, 2. Rootstown 54.56, 3. Aquinas 55.65

4x200: 1. LCC (Tamisha Twitty, Morgan Swartzentruber, Kloe Maninga, Medgine Wojton) 1:49.17, 2. Rootstown 1:52.33, 3. Mogadore 1:53.02

4x400: 1. Mogadore (Julie Tompkins, Brook McIntyre, Rachel Whetstone, Amber Morris) 4:11.56, 2. Rootstown 4:23.30, 3. LCC 4:31.65

4x800: 1. Mogadore (Rachel Whetstone, Brook McIntyre, Amber Morris, Katie Lane) 10:26.90, 2. Rootstown 10:48.21, 3. Southeast 11:01.15

High Jump: 1. Audrey Kline (Rootstown) 4-09, 2. Kelsie Hamrick (Rootstown) 4-08, 3. Katie Kordinak (Mogadore) 4-06

Long Jump: 1. KyAra Ross (Aquinas) 17-04.75, 2. Rylee Durbak (Rootstown) 15-07.75, 3. Cameron Kuharich (Rootstown) 15-06.25

Shot Put: 1. Brooklyn Beckford (Mogadore) 34-10.25, 2. Brooklynn McIntyre (Rootstown) 34-00.50, 3. Lauren Holler (Mogadore) 33-00.25

Discus: 1. Brooklynn McIntyre (Rootstown) 113-05.25, 2. Autumn Stefancik (Rootstown) 101-04, 3. Brooklyn Beckford (Mogadore) 97-03.50

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Rootstown Rovers sweep Portage Trail Conference Track Championships

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