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One thousand points is an obscure figure in track and field.
It isn’t as commonly talked about as 1,000 rushing yards in football or 1,000 points in high school basketball. In fact, Garfield senior Lauren Jones only gained interest in the mark after scoring her 1,000th point in basketball. She wondered if she was close in track as well, and coach John Bennett told her she was just 109 points off entering this year.
Wednesday against Rootstown, she passed 1,000.
“When you talk about an athlete like Lauren, she has a way of spoiling you as a coach,” Bennett said. “You just get so used to her performing above and beyond expectations, it’s strange in a way, you almost get too used to it until you kind of overlook how good she really is.”
Jones does multiple events so the winning points could have come from anywhere, but it was fitting that the two-time state champion in the discus hit 1,000 with her win in the discus. Her first two throws — 148 feet, 11⁄2 inches and 145 feet, 9 inches — were good enough that she didn’t have to worry, even after recording fouls on her final two tries.
“I wanted to throw close to 160 today, but that just didn’t happen,” Jones said.
Jones wasn’t the only one to excel in the discus. Rootstown senior Abby Moore set a school record in the discus to finish second, then beat Jones in the shot with throws of 42-2 and 41-10.
“It’s always nice to have another challenge to push you more,” Moore said. “I’m improving every week. It’s still early in the season. I still have a lot of practice, a lot to do. We’re getting there.”
Like Jones, Moore has higher expectations. Indeed, her first shot was past 45, but she just barely stepped out of the circle. She said she would like to get to 47 or 48 by year’s end.
After Moore was done, Jones stepped into the circle and threatened with an opening 37-10.
“I was watching her,” Moore said. “I was cheering her on. We’re friends.”
Two of Jones’ next three throws went wide right, giving Moore the victory.
“My goal is just to do my best,” Jones said. “Today was a little rough for shot-put. I only got one good throw in.”
With her win in the shot-put and second-place finishes in discus and long jump, Moore accounted for 11 points as the Rovers girls beat the G-Men, 95-33. Rootstown also benefitted from 9-0 sweeps in the 100-meter hurdles, the 800-meter run and the 200-meter dash.
Shortly after Moore won the shot-put, in another clash of Portage Trail Conference titans, Jones went up against Rootstown senior Tawnie Vair in the high jump.
“I love jumping against Lauren,” Vair said. “I love it. Personally, she’s a really sweet girl, and we even talked about we both push each other in long jump and high jump.”
Jones and Vair were the only two remaining at 4-8, but Vair, still recovering from a pulled knee and MCL strain midway through basketball season, fell in that round.
“It’s a lot different from last year from me jumping 5-2, close to 5-3, at the beginning of the season to me barely getting 4-8 and 4-10,” Vair said. “I’m actually happy because my first track meets were not good, my technique just felt off.”
Jones cleared 4-8, her first height of the day, on her first try.
“I like coming in at a higher height because then I’m not as tired going into the next one,” Jones said. “The less jumps I can take, the better. That’s the way I look at it.”
She went on to clear 4-11, with the bar quivering but never falling in her wake.
“I don’t know how I got my butt over that jump,” Jones said. “I guess I just got lucky on that one.”
In another epic clash, Rootstown’s Roger Williams nipped Garfield’s Tyler Klouda in their shared leg of the 4x800 relay, but Klouda struck back, winning the 800-meter run by several seconds. Both emerged with personal records — Klouda for his relay leg and Williams for his 800.
Klouda also won the mile and two mile for the G-Men, accounting for 15 points as the Garfield boys beat Rootstown, 88-40. Normally a long-distance runner, as well as one of the best cross-country runners in Ohio, Klouda said the 800 was a good test.
“It helps a lot because you get pushed. It’s tough on your legs and it makes that pace when you’re running the mile feel easier,” Klouda said. “Going into the season, I built my base mileage, so then I have my aerobic base, breathing-wise, so then when I do the 800, that’s all about speed, my turnover and my legs. It’s a challenge. I’m not used to going that fast.”
Vair wasn’t the only elite athlete rebounding from an injury Wednesday in Brimfield. Garfield senior Seth Morgan, after tweaking his back in the long jump Saturday, visited the chiropractor Monday and won the long jump Wednesday.
“I could walk, but random steps would really hurt,” Morgan said. “I was skeptical about jumping today, but it turned out I was okay. I was going to take one jump to see how it felt, but I felt good from the start.”
For whatever health concerns Morgan might have entered with, those dissipated in a matter of seconds, as he hit 20-8 on his first jump of the afternoon. Morgan was remarkably consistent, sprinting as hard as he could down the runway and leaping from the very tip of the board every single time in what might as well have been a how-to video for the long jump.
“It takes a lot of practice to make sure your steps are always on the board,” Morgan said. “I take pride in having good steps so I don’t foul, and so I can always go 100 percent down the (runway).”
For Morgan, who also missed the end of basketball season with an injury, Wednesday was a sweet experience. After his first successful long jump, Morgan was so happy, he started whistling.
“It feels great,” Morgan said. “Basketball is not my favorite sport, but being out and realizing how much I miss competing in anything, it just made me realize I need to get back out for track.”
Rovers senior C.C. Hluch also made a nice return Wednesday, bouncing back from a strained hamstring to send his final shot attempt, off a double spin, 42-6, good for third place in a heated event.
Teammate Logan Carpenter secured the victory in the shot put with a gorgeous opening throw of 45-1. Unlike Garfield’s Cole Dean and Hluch, who both spun into their throws, Carpenter opted with the shorter glide motion, quickly cocking his elbow and heaving forward. He said he’s tried spinning, but the glide happens to work better for him.
“I just felt more comfortable with the glide,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter also secured victory in the discus. He trailed Hluch, who finished second, entering his final throw, but he sent his final throw 135-8 for the victory.
“I was pretty nervous and tired,” Carpenter said. “I was just kind of hoping that I would throw one and get into the 130s and I did, and after that, I was pretty happy.”