It was all about the Jones on Saturday afternoon at Portage Community Bank Stadium in Ravenna for this year's 41st Frank Rossi Valkyrie Invitational.
Garfield star Lauren Jones won 3-of-4 field events to take away the MVP award for field events, while Mogadore standout Raquel Jones earned herself MVP honors for the track competition.
Lauren Jones, the reigning two-time state discus champion, won that event with a meet-record effort of 150-9.50, breaking her own record which she set two years ago as a sophomore. In addition, Jones also won the shot put with a toss of 40-1.00 and took individual honors in the long jump with a leap of 16-8.50. Jones nearly completed the sweep in the field events but lost out to United Local's Camryn Jarrett in the high jump, losing a jump-off to the junior. Jones finished with 38 of her team's 43 eighth-place points.
"Lauren is known for representing us with dignity and grace and she is a godsend," said G-Men coach John Bennett. "She's almost worth 40 points before you get off the bus. I said the other day that kind of spoils us in a way, but it is nice to know that you will at least end up in the middle of the pack at any invitational just because she is on the team. She has been hitting the weights hard, and it is starting to show in her performances."
Raquel Jones, meanwhile, won the 300 hurdles in a time of 49.46 and placed runner-up in both the 100 hurdles and the 100-meter dash. The senior also ran a leg on the Wildcats' 4x400 squad.
"Outstanding job today," said first-year Mogadore coach Kim Kreiner on the showing by Jones. "We were a little shorthanded today, numbers-wise, but she was able to put together a great performance. She pushed through some shin-splint issues, but who doesn't have them? She gutted it out, gave us all she could in all the individual events and the 4x4 relay. I am very proud of the way she competed today."
Kreiner, a former standout track athlete at both Mogadore and Kent State University and a two-time Olympian in the javelin, went on to say that the goal is to get Jones down to state, be it in one event or multiple ones. Last season, Jones made it to the regionals in both hurdle events but fell shy of a state berth.
"We are going to evaluate throughout the season what her better avenue to go to state is," she said. "Right now we are leaning toward the 300 hurdles, but the 100 meters and the 100 hurdles are not out of question."
The Garfield boys team finished runner-up to Marlington, the best team finish among the four area schools for either boys or girls. Not surprisingly, sophomore distance sensation Tyler Klouda paved the way with victories in the 1,600 and 3,200 to put himself in serious contention for MVP honors. That award went to the Dukes' Lane Knoch, who swept the hurdle events.
"I think the boys team is starting to come around; there is some talent," said Bennett. "We are at a decided disadvantage early in the season because we don't have a track, but as the season progresses and we get more and more time on the track, our timing in the relays are starting to come around.
"I thought the 4x4 looked real good today. We finally got in the 3:30s, and the nice thing about the 3:30s is that it is one step closer to the 3:20s, which is where you need to be... And Tyler had another solid day for us."
The G-Men also received good production from the likes of Seth Morgan, who won the long jump, and Cole Dean, who was victorious in the discus and placed third in the shot put.
"Cole is one of those kids that went out for wrestling and lost some weight," said Bennett. "He is starting to put that muscle back on and it is beginning to show in his performances. He's a hard-working kid and should be a kid that advances in the postseason."
Other area winners included Andrew Johnson of Field, who won the 800 in a clocking of 2:06.83. The Falcons' Brett Lowden finished runner-up to Klouda in the 3,200, one spot ahead of Mogadore's Reilly Schrock.
Waterloo, the host school of the event, is leaving the Portage Trail Conference at the end of the school year, but coach Greg Drugan, who has assisted former longtime Waterloo coach Frank Rossi with the invitational the last 20 years, is very optimistic that the even will continue next season.
"We are looking forward to doing 42 next season," said Drugan.
Chagrin Falls won the girls team competition and Marlington took second.
United Local's Isaiah Chestnut claimed the boys' field-event MVP. He won the shot put and took runner-up to Dean in the discus.