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By David Carducci Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Wednesday's preliminary round of the Portage County League track championships at Kent Roosevelt High School was a day for the injured to shine.

Crestwood coach Don Faix came into the meet worried about a girls team that was worn down by injuries during its undefeated season.

One of the walking wounded Faix was most concerned about before Thursday was defending PCL high jump champion Jenny Reese, who has been hampered by a bad back all season.

But the Red Devils junior overcame the back pain to help Crestwood's girls capture first- and third-place points in the high jump. Reese defended her league championship from last year with a jump of 5-1, while freshman teammate Julie Feather-Faber took third with a jump of 5-1.

"Jenny was unbelievable, I don't understand it," said Faix. "She is constantly hurt and out of shape and going to doctors and she ends up winning the high jump. She's got a shot (Saturday) in the hurdles and she's also going to long jump.

"The funny thing about Jenny is that she adjusts during her jumping (in the high jump). She'll knock the hell out of the crossbar and look terrible and come over and ask, 'What am I doing wrong?' I'll give her a little suggestion and bang, she's over it. Then the next time she'll knock the hell out of the crossbar again, and again she'll come over to me, and then bang, she's over again. After a while (Wednesday) I forget about her, and pretty soon everyone starts running over to me to tell me Jenny won it. It was really unbelievable."

The victory helped Crestwood's girls jump out to an early advantage, leading both Garfield and Rootstown 26-18. The Red Devil boys also grabbed an early lead, 26-20 over second-place Mogadore.

The most exciting finish of the day was turned in by Field's boys 4x800-meter relay team, which set the meet and school record at 8:06.46, edging Crestwood by four-one hundredths of a second.

Both the Falcons and the Red Devils (8:06.5) finished faster than the previous PCL record of 8:06.6 set by Rootstown in 1986.

Field's victory was another story of an athlete overcoming a season-long injury.

Senior Chris Hudik missed most of the season after being hurt in a snowboarding accident, but returned to help lead the relay team that included Mike Shriner, Mike Hall and Nate Hutchinson.

All four runners recorded their best split times of the year.

"Hudik has only been back a couple weeks, but he's looking good and getting stronger every meet," said Field coach Bill Huntington. "It was real important to have him back, because obviously we wouldn't have won the 4x800 without him. We would have given away probably seven or eight seconds. I didn't expect us to go as fast as we did, but the competition was there and we went after it."

Field swept the 4x800 relays, as the team of Kathy Shell, Dawn Hollis, Emily Mars and Michele Moyers beat second-place Garfield by nearly 20 seconds.

The Falcons' time of 9:57.8 was the team's fastest of the season.

To nobody's surprise, Garfield's Chiara Chambers controlled the competition in the girls discus for the second straight year. Chambers' throw of 126-11 was 15 feet further than runner-up Roxanne Connair of Rootstown. Crestwood's Jenna Bloom finished third at 100-3.

For the Garfield senior who will be attending Tri-State University in Indiana next year, winning the PCL was just the first step toward returning to Columbus, where she finished sixth in the state last year in Division II.

"I want to go back to state, and I know that this is the time of the season when I need to keep consistently getting better," said Chambers. "I'm not really nervous about qualifying (for state), but I'm anxiously anticipating. We are in Division III this year, so I don't know what the competition is like, but I want to be No. 1."

Mogadore's boys stand in second place on the strength of a perfect first day in the field events. Steve Kreiner captured first in the shot put with a 51-5 1/4 throw, and Andy McCain finished first in the long jump with a leap of 20-9.

Rootstown's girls finished the day tied with Garfield for second thanks to second-place finishes by Carly Burkhart in the high jump and Connair in the shot put.

Crestwood's boys built their early lead behind the second place from the 4x800 team, and second- and a fourth-place points in the shot put by Brian Stenger (50-1 1/4) and Mike Mager (47-1 1/4).

___

Portage County League track championships

(at Kent Roosevelt)

Boys

Current Team Standings

(after 3 events)

1. Crestwood, 26; 2. Mogadore, 20; 3. Field, 19; 4. Southeast, 12; 5. (tie) Woodridge, Rootstown, 6; 7. Garfield, 4.

Field Event Finals

SHOT PUT (51-5 1/4) _ 1. Steve Kreiner (Mog); 2. Brian Stenger (Cre); 3. Dustin Dohse (SE); 4. Mike Mager (Cre); 5. Tom Crock (SE); 6. John Norman (Fie).

LONG JUMP (20-9) _ 1. Andy McCain (Mog); 2. Keith Watts (Fie); 3. Scott Weinkamer (Cre); 4. Brian Rick (Woo); 5. Jesse Thornton (SE); 6. Dedrick Williams (Woo).

Running Event Finals

4x800 RELAY (8:06.46 - meet record) _ 1. Field (Mike Shriner, Mike Hall, Chris Hudik, Nate Hutchinson); 2. Crestwood; 3. Rootstown; 4. Garfield; 5. Southeast; 6. Woodridge.

Girls

Current Team Standings

(after 3 events)

1. Crestwood, 26; 2. (tie) Garfield, Rootstown, 18; 4. Southeast, 16; 5. Field, 11; 6. Mogadore, Woodridge, 2.

Field Event Finals

SHOT PUT (126-11) _ 1. Chiara Chambers (Gar); 2. Roxanne Connair (Roo); 3. Jenna Bloom (Cre); 4. Tricia Lloyd (SE); 5. Carey Fidler (SE); 6. Renee Schroeder (Fie).

HIGH JUMP (5-1) _ 1. Jenny Reese (Cre); 2. Carly Burkhart (Roo); 3. Julie Feather-Faber (Cre); 4. Yvonne Cornell (SE); 5. Shanna Tabatcher (Mog); 6. Stephanie Haislip (Roo).

Running Event Finals

4x800 RELAY (9:57.8) _ 1. Field (Kathy Shell, Dawn Hollis, Emily Mars, Michele Moyers); 2. Garfield; 3. Southeast; 4. Crestwood; 5. Woodridge; 6. Rootstown.

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