All-Stars: Kent Roosevelt girls track team wins fifth title in six years

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By ERIC CLUTTER | CORRESPONDENT

What California Chrome couldn't accomplish, Olivia Chinn did.

The Ravenna junior distance runner completed the Triple Crown of distance running at the 2014 Portage Trail Conference League Meet by winning the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter events. And for icing on the cake, this season's PTC Metro Division Athlete of the Year ran a leg on the Ravens' victorious 4x800-relay squad.

"It was probably one of the best efforts I've seen from a Ravenna girl in a while," said Ravenna head coach Phil Starks. "It was a pretty awesome day; she has been working hard all season."

Chinn went on to qualify in the 1,600 for the state meet, where she finished 11th in a personal-best clocking of 5:07.16.

"She keeps getting better and better and loves the competition in the league, and her hard work is paying off," said Starks. "She has really matured and is a smart runner."

Teammate Chanavier Robinson, a junior who finished seventh in Columbus in the long jump, earned First-Team status in the 100 meters.

It was no surprise that Robinson was victorious at the league meet as she went undefeated in the race during the regular season.

In terms of the long jump, well, that's another story.

Never having competed in the event at any level, Robinson first tried the event one week prior to the league competition. Then once down in Columbus, she fouled twice on her first two efforts before advancing to the finals where she posted a 17-5 1/2 jump, opening the eyes of her coach.

"She felt good and excelled at it. It's a great experience to get somebody on the podium," said Starks.

Ja'Lynn Starks, also a junior, was a two-event First-Team athlete in the 400 and as a member of the 4x800 group. She too went undefeated in the 400 during the regular season and helped the 4x800 turn in a PR of 9:49.

"She's a great athlete from the 800 on down," said Phil Starks.

Behind their trio of First Teamers, the Ravens racked up 144 points at the league meet and pushed champion Kent Roosevelt to the limit, losing by three points to end the season tied with Crestwood for second place overall in the Metro.

The title was the Rough Riders' fifth banner in the past six seasons.

"We continue to strive for success through hard work and dedication," said Roosevelt head coach and Metro Coach of the Year Kate Swango. "We are a well-rounded team, able to score in all events which ultimately keeps us balanced and successful."

Leading the charge this season was three-event First-Team selection and state-qualifier Katie Morsefield. The junior won both hurdle races and the long jump at the league meet and advanced to Columbus in the latter event.

"Katie has such great potential as an athlete," said Swango. "She can do pretty much any event we ask her to do. We hope her success will continue into her senior year. She had a great trip to Columbus. She was very excited and humbled to be there."

Roosevelt sophomore Madison Mercer made First Team in the shot put and junior Maya Davis was an At-Large selection.

"She has been working on getting stronger and changing her form," said Swango of Mercer. "It clicked at the league meet and she PR'd by over a foot. We expect great strides next season."

Davis, meanwhile, lost her first 800 race of the season at the league meet but assisted her team in three other events to help her squad slip past Ravenna.

"I felt based on her tough schedule at the league meet that she was unable to perform her best in the 800, which she didn't lose all season," said Swango. "We needed her to come through in four events, and she did, helping us win the meet. I'm very appreciative and thankful that the coaches in the league were able to recognize that and her efforts."

The Red Devils placed two individuals on the First Team -- seniors Alaina Nuti (discus) and 3,200-meter state-qualifing Abby Soltisz (At-Large) -- and the 4x400 team of Taylor Rector, Marissa Midgley, Lindsay Thut and Hayley Zigman.

Emily Holt and Alyssa Suto joined Chinn and Starks on the Ravens' 4x800 squad. Starks and Robinson teamed up with Sarah Long and Jazmane Preston to earn First-Team honors in the 4x100 sprint relay.

The Springfield foursome of Julia McMullen, Jada Mowery, Felisha Badgett and Jenna Ford formed the Metro's best 4x200 squad.

Mowery, only a freshman, made the First Team in the open 200. Teammate and fellow freshman Desiree Thomas was the Metro's top high jumper.

There was nothing new atop the County Division standings in 2014. Once again Woodridge, behind County Division Coach of the Year Jeff Howard, ruled the day to yet another title -- their ninth in the nine-year history of the PTC.

As usual, the Bulldogs' distance runners shined with senior Allyson Dryer capturing the 1,600 and freshman Clare Willett taking the 3,200.

Standout senior Madison Spreitzer didn't win the 1,600 at the County Meet but did qualify for the state tourney in the event and turned in a sixth-place showing in Division II. And she did earn First-Team status by winning the 400.

Sophomore Aamirah Howard was the County's best 300-meter hurdler and junior Aijah Albert was tabbed one of two At-Large selections.

Finally, the Bulldogs' 4x800 foursome of Dryer, Spreitzer, Erin Kiley and Julia Moore won the league meet and finished ninth in Columbus.

The Athlete of the Year in the County was Streetsboro senior Marra Woods. The Rockets' co-MVP authored two individual first-place finishes at the league meet, winning the high jump and 200 while also being a part of the team's two relay-winning squads -- the 4x100 and 4x200.

"Marra is probably the most versatile athlete on the team," said Streetsboro head coach Tom Fesemyer. "She can run anything from the 100 to the 400 and is a phenomenal high jumper. She holds three school records, including setting a new school record at the league meet of 5-4 1/2. She is an extremely hard worker and was a cornerstone of our program for four years."

Joining Woods on the short sprint relay were Kailyn Williams, Delisha McMiller and Destiny King. Williams, King and Woods partnered with Savannah Nevels on the 4x200.

King was Streetsboro's other MVP, ending a brilliant career winning the County long jump and 100-meter hurdles.

"She battled severe shin pain all year long; at times the pain was so bad it prevented her from participating in meets," said Fesemyer. "She is a four-time champion in the PTC Meet and a three-year runner at the state meet. Her dedication to the sport of track and leadership on the team will be almost impossible to replace next year. She is like having another coach on the team as she is very giving to the young girls on our team. She holds school records in the long jump, 400 relay and 100 hurdles."

Both King and Woods culminated their high school tenures with state appearances. King qualified in the 100 hurdles and long jump, taking 14th at Columbus in the latter. Woods, meanwhile, placed seventh at state in the high jump.

"If I were building a girls track team, these two would be cornerstones of my program," said Fesemyer of King and Woods, who will continue their track careers at Duquesne and Marietta College, respectively.

While King and Woods have now graduated, Garfield's Edie Svonavec has one more year to add to her already sparkling resume.

The standout thrower is the recently-crowned state shot put champion in Division II on the strength of her effort of 45 feet, 6 3/4 inches. A year ago, Svonavec flirted with a state title, falling just short and taking a runner-up spot.

Svonavec took home more honors by placing third in the discus, three places ahead of freshman teammate Lauren Jones.

At the league meet, Svonavec swept the throws and Jones earned a First-Team spot as an At-Large choice.

The remaining two individual slots on the First Team were occupied by Rootstown sophomore Courtney Brown (100 meters) and Southeast senior Lydia Wallbrown (800 meters).

Wallbrown was also a part of the Pirates' 4x400 relay squad that also featured Loren Coontz, Morgan Bellar and Jessica Evans.

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