Tuslaw's Malena Cybak looks to close tiny gap in 800-meter run at state track & field meet

·2 min read
Woodridge's Izzy Best leads Norwayne's Jaylee Wingate, left and Tuslaw's Malena Cybak, right, during the girls 800-meter run at Austintown Fitch High School on Saturday. Wingate took first, Cybak placed second and Best finished third in the Division II regional meet.  [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal]
Woodridge's Izzy Best leads Norwayne's Jaylee Wingate, left and Tuslaw's Malena Cybak, right, during the girls 800-meter run at Austintown Fitch High School on Saturday. Wingate took first, Cybak placed second and Best finished third in the Division II regional meet. [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal]

AUSTINTOWN — Victory was within Malena Cybak's reach.

The Tuslaw All-Ohioan had a clear path ahead of her in the final stages of the girls 800 meters. She was moments away from having a Division II regional winner's medal placed around her neck for the first time.

Suddenly, a familiar face snatched victory from Cybak's hands.

Norwayne's Jaylee Wingate used a late surge to win the 800 and drop Cybak to second place for the second straight year. Two months ago, Wingate and Cybak were teammates on a winning 3,200 relay at the Adidas Indoor Track and Field Nationals. This week, they will be among the top contenders for the 800 state title.

More: Saturday roundup: Minerva's Connor Shingleton wins two regional track championships

Malena Cybak of Tuslaw took first in the girls 1600 meter run during the PAC-7 Track and Field Championships at Northwest on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Malena Cybak of Tuslaw took first in the girls 1600 meter run during the PAC-7 Track and Field Championships at Northwest on Thursday, May 12, 2022.

"I'm not going to lie. I didn't know she was coming up behind me that fast," Cybak said. "I was giving it everything I had. Looking back, I probably should have kicked a little harder down the last 100. Everybody I'm running against has a kick like that, and we're all good at this point.

"I guess it's another learning lesson. I made it to state. That's the ultimate goal."

Wingate's kick helped her record a meet-record time of 2:11.88. Cybak finished in a season-best 2:13.33.

"There are fast people out there, but having her compete against me is really exciting," Wingate said. "We can push each other. We both have the same goals. It's just really awesome having a chance to compete against her as a friend ,too."

More: Big goals: Marlington Dukes' distance runners racing toward state success again

Wingate also edged Cybak by three seconds in a race for the 800 district title last week. Cybak hopes she can turn the tables and become Tuslaw's second individual state champion in Columbus.

Cybak came close at last year's state meet. She finished just nine one-hundredths of a second behind state champion Amy Weybrecht of Gilmour Academy.

"Being runner-up my junior year was kind of expected," Cybak said. "Senior year, I want to win it. The ultimate goal is to be a state champ."

Reach Mike at mike.popovich@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @mpopovichREP

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Familiar face snatches 800 win from Tuslaw's Malena Cybak at regional