By ERIC CLUTTER | CORRESPONDENT
William Morgan loves to run. He would have to, considering the Rootstown senior logged over 1,200 miles over the course of the last two winters.
"When he runs, he always runs hard," said veteran Rootstown head coach Larry Bailey of the 2014 Portage Trail Conference County Division Athlete of the Year.
"What makes him really good, is he really hates losing," Bailey said.
That didn't happen very much during Morgan's three-year career for Bailey, who has seen his share of quality runners in his three decades of coaching.
"I'd say one of the top 10 in school history," said Bailey.
Morgan won both the 1,600 and 3,200 at this year's league meet to cap off his career. That helped him set the school record for points tallied in a single season. Morgan also established a new benchmark for total points accumulated for a career.
Impressive by itself, it is even more eye-opening considering Morgan did not run his freshman season, opting instead to give baseball a shot.
He found his niche on the track. The only achievement that eluded Morgan was his failure to qualify for the Division III state tournament.
Bailey, a very astute observer of running, who considers Morgan a state-caliber talent, notes that over the past four or five years, some of the best runners have come out of the pool of Division III athletes.
Had Morgan run in the other two divisions, he likely would have made at least one visit to Columbus.
"Not making states doesn't diminish his career," said Bailey. "He's been our best distance runner in the past three years. He's not only a good runner, but a really good runner. He's just a quality person, always dependable."
Dependable is what the Woodridge boys have been in winning the County Division for a seventh consecutive time.
County Coach of the Year Lester Carney's crew placed three individuals on the First Team and had the winning 4x400 and 4x800 relay squads.
Junior Anthony Thurman swept the hurdles at the league meet, while senior Alex Jenkins garnered the long jump and fellow senior Tim Faiken won the 800 meters.
Jenkins and Faiken teamed with Trevor Garner and John Harry on the 4x400. Dan Kiley and Noah Bullock joined Harry and Faiken on the 4x800 that advanced to state and finished 12th.
Streetsboro put forth an impressive season in finishing runner-up to the Bulldogs.
Similar to the Bulldogs, the Rockets also had three First-Team selections and the victorious 4x100 and 4x200 relay squads.
Division II 100-meter state champion Dakari Carter led the way with two individual titles in the 100 and 400 and a pair of relay titles.
Carter's state title was the first-ever in Streetsboro history. He also took third in the 200 in Columbus and collaborated with Prince Franklin, Myron Jones and Daniel Sapp to claim seventh spot in the 4x200 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
It was quite an introduction onto the big stage for the freshman.
"He has an incredible athleticism and that permits our coaching staff to put him in just about any event on the track," said Streetsboro head coach Tom Fesemyer. "He is a very hard-working athlete whose work in the weight room paid dividends as the season progressed."
In his only season at Streetsboro, Sapp won the 200 at the County competition and was part of that night's victorious 4x200 squad.
"I haven't seen Daniel run since eighth grade," said Fesemyer of Sapp, who went to grade school in Streetsboro but attended Notre Dame Cathedral Latin his first three years of high school. "He showed up on day one with a smile on his face and that smile continued through the state meet. He is a natural leader and a very gifted athlete. He will succeed in life due in part to his great attitude."
Streetsboro senior Parris Burton made the First Team as an At-Large selection. Jenkins, Franklin, Carter and Victor Glass formed the Rockets' 4x100 group.
Seniors Anthony Workman (high jump) and Seth Duvall (At-Large) earned First-Team status for Garfield.
Mogadore junior Kyle Louk (shot put) and Southeast junior Abe Wheaton (discus) punctuated the First-Team choices.
In the Metro Division, a well-balanced roster keyed a perfect regular season, a PTC Meet title and an overall championship for 2014.
"I am very proud of this year's team," said Field head coach and Metro Division Coach of the Year Ed Conroy. "They worked hard and supported each other throughout the entire season. We were excited for the chance to bring a PTC championship back to Field.
"We knew our strength was that we were a well-rounded team, having strong athletes in almost every event."
As for his own award, Conroy distributed the credit among his squad and assistant coaches.
"Without them (coaches George Wetzel and Tina Kruse) and the great kids we had the opportunity to work with, this award would not be possible. We are all responsible for, and thankful for, this season."
The Falcons' dominated the field events at the league meet, piling up 53 points to send them on their way to the title.
Senior Andy Eckhart swept the throws and junior Preston Semler won the long jump.
"He made a huge impact in the field events," said Conroy. "He's a hard-working young man who was very consistent throughout the regular season."
Semler also took the 300 hurdles; senior teammate Michael Cobham did likewise in the 100 meters for the second year in a row.
The distance crew of Adam Salberg, Jimmy Kubitza, Harrsion Lewis and Nate Conroy rounded out the Falcons' First-Team selections by winning the 4x800 in a meet-record time (8:10.24)
Junior Zack Lake of Coventry was named Metro Athlete of the Year for his two individual wins and two relay wins. His effort helped the Comets to a second-place overall finish, which they shared with Kent Roosevelt.
Lake won the 200 and 400 and ran a leg on his squad's victorious 4x200 and 4x400 units. With him on the 4x200 were Devon Jones, Kelan Siner and Jaret Skaggs. Jones, Skaggs and Zack Smith ran with Lake on the 4x400.
Coventry senior Luke Bogdanovich was victorious in the high jump; senior Tyler Davis was an At-Large choice.
The Rough Riders' Terry Spurney, a sophomore, was the Metro's other At-Large pick. Roosevelt's 4x100 group of Desmond Scott, Eriqk Smiley, Malik Moore and Robert Moore also received First-Team accolades.
Crestwood junior standout Jeremiah Fitzgerald gained victories in the 800 and 1,600; sophomore teammate Jacob Ondash won the 3,200 as the Red Devils swept the distance events.
Norton senior Justin Tokes put his name on the First Team by winning the 110 hurdles.