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By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
A number of Portage Trail Conference student-athletes got a jump on the upcoming track season Saturday afternoon, competing at the OATCCC's Indoor Track & Field State Championships, which were held at the University of Akron.
All of the PTC's competitors took part in the combined Division II and III meet, which was held following the conclusion of Saturday morning's Division I meet.
Crestwood's girls squad -- last year's Metro Division champions -- was well-represented, competing in a number of team and individual events. Ultimately, the Red Devils placed 13th overall as a team with 13 points. Chaminade Julienne took the girls overall team championship with 31 points.
The Red Devils' 4x800 team of Tori Chiller, Marissa Midgley, Challis Roberts and Abby Soltisz finished second in a time of 9:58.30, behind only Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's winning relay time of 9:38.05.
Chiller and Midgley returned later -- this time teaming with Taylor Rector and Hayley Zigman -- in the 4x400 relay. The Red Devils' team again finished on the podium, taking sixth place with a time of 4:14.14.
Competing as individuals, Chiller and Soltisz also turned in strong outings against a talented field of competitors. Chiller took seventh in the 400 meters with a time of 1:00.35, while Soltisz placed ninth in the 1,600 meters in 5:48.94.
Garfield's Edie Svonavec was one of two PTC competitors to place in the girls shot put, taking second with a throw of 42 feet, 6 1/2 inches.
Svonavec's throw was second only to McComb's Becca Leppelmeier, who took the top spot with a throw of 45-3.
"Edith was a little bit nervous to be the first competitor, but she's the kind of kid who thrives on competition," said Garfield track head coach John Bennett said.
"When she threw that 42-6 to start the competiton, (Garfeld throwing coach Jim Pfleger) and I just looked at each other with big eyes," Bennett said.
"Her finish today didn't happen by mistake," Bennett said.. "She has been in the weight room since we came back from last year's (outdoor) state meet. She has been on a strict regimen of drill work and lifting. She's a really motivated kid."
Svonavec was the first Garfield female to ever participate at the state indoor track meet, according to Bennett.
Dawn Freeland of Rootstown also took part in the shot put, placing ninth with a throw of 37-3 1/2.
Rootstown's Courtney Brown competed in an event not seen in PTC outdoor action, as the Rovers freshman placed fifth in the triple jump with her best leap of 31-9 1/4.
A pair of Woodridge newcomers took part in the girls meet, as Emily Gillespie placed sixth in the pole vault (9-6), while freshman Amira Howard placed 14th in the 60-meter hurdles preliminaries, but failed to qualify for the final round of competiton.
Gillespie competed for CVCA for two years before being home schooled as a junior. Now a senior, Gillespie is enrolled at Woodridge and competing for the Bulldogs.
"Emily has lived in our district her whole life, but never vaulted for us before," Woodridge head coach Jeff Howard said. "Her best is 9-8, so what she did today was a pretty good number. She would have had to had a pretty good PR to clear 10 feet, which was what was at the top (of the standings)."
In the boys competiton, last year's Metro Division runner-up in the shot put, Crestwood senior Matt Monroe took second in the weight throw with a best throw of 67-9. Monroe finished behind only Dylan Dyke of Waverly, who took first with a throw of 61-1 1/2.
Monroe was joined by a pair of Rootstown athletes in Lane Hluch and David Paliscak, who took sixth and eighth place, respectively.
Paliscak returned in the shot put, taking fourth overall. A second-place finisher in the shot during last year's Division III state meet, Paliscak finished with a best throw of 57-7 1/4.
Monroe also returned to place in the shot, taking seventh (53-5 1/4).
Garfield senior Alex Radwanski is the top returning high jumper in the County Division after placing second last year at the league meet. Radwanski finished tied for 10th at Saturday's meet in the same event in a jump-off.
"Alex's best jump today was 6-4, which is pretty good for this time of year," Bennett said. "He's going to be one of the best athletes in Northeast Ohio during the track season, no doubt, and he was the first boy to compete for Garfield at an indoor state track meet, so he has nothing to complain about."
A pair of Woodridge distance runners competed in the 3,200 meters, as Matt Wojcik took eighth place in 9:49.28, while teammate Alex Fredrick placed 10th in 9:52.36.
Wojcik's time was the best of his career, Howard said, who added that he is not concerned either way by the finishes of his two runners.
"We have an indoor program during the winter, but we're pretty low key," Howard said. "We kind of let the kids do their own thing during the indoor season and we go to some meets, but we don't sweat anything too much."