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By Sara Welch | Staff Writer
fFour Portage Trail Conference athletes made history at the high school track and field state championships on June 7 at Ohio State University's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
In Division II, Streetsboro's Dakari Carter sprinted to the 100-meter state title, while Garfield's Edith Svonavec bested the field in the shot put.
In the Wheelchair Division, Southeast's Jenna Fesemyer won four state crowns (100, 400, 800 meters and shot put), while Kent Roosevelt's Randy McMullen placed first in the shot put.
For Carter and Svonavec, they authored school history.
Svonavec's winning throw landed at 45 feet, 634 inches, and she became Garfield's first-ever state champion in a field event.
After finishing as the runner-up a year ago in shot, Svonavec, a junior, set her sights on the state title early in the season.
"I could just tell my coach was really excited about it," Svonavec said of her state title and the reactions she received from head coach John Bennett and throwing coach Jim Pfleger. "It's just great for them and my school. It's great that I get to represent my school in that way and actually excel in a sport for them."
Svonavec's trip to Columbus also featured a third-place spot on the podium in the discus after she threw 126 feet.
With her senior season remaining, Svonavec holds the shot put and discus school records at Garfield.
Still caught up in the whirlwind of the season and the state meet, Svonavec said her accomplishment didn't fully sink in until she attended the Record-Courier's Athlete of the Year banquet last week and featured guest speaker Kim Kreiner, a Mogadore High School graduate and two-time javelin Olympian, who now is a volunteer coach for the Wildcats' track team, referenced her during her speech.
"It was really cool for me," Svonavec said. "It's really awesome that she recognized me. I've seen her at track meets a few times and at PTCs. I thought it was just cool she recognized what I did. She's an Olympian and it's just a huge compliment."
Earlier in the season, at the Frank Rossi Valkyrie Invitational, Svonavec broke Kreiner's invitational records in both the shot put and discus with throws of 45 feet, 812 inches and 132 feet, respectively.
"I thought it was just some random person that held the record," Svonavec said. "I didn't expect it was an Olympian when my coach told me. I was really shocked and it was pretty awesome to break those records after she had set them."
Moving forward, Svonavec's goal remains the same as it has been since the start of the 2014 season.
"My goal is to just PR and get a better record for myself," she said. "I've been feeling really good. My form has really come together. It's a bummer that it didn't come together at the state meet at the time. The shot is just rolling off my hand and everything is feeling really good so hopefully it will pay off."
In Streetsboro, Carter has spent little time dwelling on his success from the track season, which featured a third-place finish at the state meet in the 200 meters and seventh-place spot as a leg in the school's 4x200 relay.
The three-sport athlete (track, basketball and football) practically immediately switched gears to focusing on off-season football workouts.
Carter focuses year-round on building a foundation created by one coach and building onto it with the insight from his next coach.
"Going into the (track) season, it was about maintaining what other coaches have put in place for him, then it turned into building on that for the things we plan on doing with him in track," Streetsboro veteran head coach Tom Fesemyer said. "Outside of the fact that we're in the weight room and lifting three times a week, we also do a lot of things with rubber bands for explosion."
When the spring workouts began, Carter was prepared to put in the work and absorb everything he could to excel. As a freshman, and in his first year at a new school, he learned from the veterans on the team and found a role model in junior Prince Franklin that actually began to forge during the football season.
Franklin had a lot of the same qualities as Carter when he came in as a freshman: He had a lot of talent and a lot of learning to do. Now, Franklin is a team leader.
"I couldn't pick a better person for Dakari to mimic or be like as he gets older, because Prince is just a great kid and put Dakari under his wing and continues to work with him," Fesemyer said. "I think, as a freshman, (Dakari) came in and opened some eyes and exposed an awful lot of things throughout the season and he's handled it very well. He doesn't walk around like he's a state champion. He walks around like he's part of a team, and he's just one of the guys and I admire him for that."
At Streetsboro, throughout the season, it was always clear its sprinters functioned as a unit. Carter may have won the championship, but it was a reflection of the hard work of everyone.
"(Dakari) came out the champion and that's awesome. I don't think our guys could have been any happier for him," Fesemyer said. "It was fun to be up in the stands and listen to people talk about the freshman. He was the only freshman -- Division I, II or III -- in the state running the 100 and 200.
"Track people pick up on that real quick in a program," Fesemyer said. "When he came out on Friday and ran a 10.71 (in the preliminaries), that kind of validated who he was and there was a little bit of buzz in the crowd. People were excited to see this young kid run. That's fun."
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