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Steve Kerst said it best — the Red Devils got the monkey off their back.
With a stacked senior class running on its home track at Jack Lambert Stadium, Crestwood pulled off its first outright PTC track & field title since 2007.
"It's amazing," Kerst said. "I wanted it for the seniors more than anything else."
Michael Picone shone bright on a cloudy and chilly day in hilly Mantua. The Crestwood senior, and Kenyon commit, won the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes. He also anchored the Red Devils' victorious 4x200 relay. In doing so, he displayed intelligence as well as speed, conserving his energy with a big lead in the relay for another winning effort in the 400. It was a heck of an effort for Picone in his final race at Jack Lambert Stadium, the sentimentality of which he said will likely hit him at a later time.
"I didn't think about that," Picone said. "It's surreal, it's bittersweet, I don't really think it will hit me until probably (Saturday) when I wake up. I've spent more hours and days on this track the past four years than probably anywhere else. It feels really good to end on top."
While the Crestwood boys relied on seniors and a number of outstanding outright victories, the young Southeast girls seemed to pick up points on every single event. The Pirates girls didn't win a single individual event Friday but continually placed near the top, which coupled with wins in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relays was enough for a 159-111 margin over second-place Crestwood.
"Our goal was to get two people to score in every event," Pirates coach Cindy Fesemyer said. "That was our goal from the very beginning. We pretty much did that."
Woodridge swept the Metro side, with a 15-point victory from the boys and a three-point victory over the Cloverleaf girls. The Bulldogs boys won despite Streetsboro victories in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes. Senior Dakari Carter accounted for the 100 victory with his time of 10.89, while KeShun Jones took home wins in the 200 and 400.
Friday's PTC Track & Field Championships featured many familiar faces and many of the great races that have defined Portage County for months, if not years.
Ravenna's Azsah Bradley won the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes, the 200 in particularly thrilling fashion. The Ravens sophomore built a slight lead over Streetsboro senior Savannah Nevels on the curve and held it through the finish line. She set personal records in every race she ran.
"Overall, she just really had a great day," Ravens coach Ashley Bault said. "She just had an awesome day overall. There's not really much to say."
No less intense was the County 800, where Garfield's Tyler Klouda avenged recent regular-season losses with a win over Rootstown's Roger Williams. Two of the best young runners in the entire county, Williams burst out to an early lead but Klouda surged around the final curve for the victory.
Raquel Jones, after a dominant performance in Wednesday's preliminaries, picked up right where she left off. The Mogadore sprinter took the 100-meter County dash with her time of 12.77 seconds, taking it by a .52-second margin, and the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.29 seconds. She won the 300-meter hurdles as well — by nearly two seconds. Teammate Hope Murphy tacked on victories in the 400-meter dash and the 800-meter run.
One could also say Carter picked up right where he left off. The Rockets' spectacular sprinter not only ran the 100 dash in 10.89 seconds, winning the race with relative ease, but teamed with Malik Johnson, Myron Jones and KeShun Jones to win the 4x200 Metro relay title. He also contributed to Streetsboro's Metro champion 4x100 relay.
While the Rockets are best known for their sprinters, they got a significant boost from their throws, with Milton Wilson winning the Metro discus title for the first time. With his final flight throw of 147-6, Wilson put himself in great position entering the finals, and captured the championship with the help of a number of fouls from his leading competitors.
"It was a very spiritual uplift for me," Wilson said of his final flight attempt. "I went in knowing I would do well today. I've never been in this position before. It's a great feeling."
Wilson said he was thrilled with his championship, yet still has bigger goals to chase — including the school record of 162-1. Earlier this season, Wilson had a foul that was roughly that distance.
"It's very huge to me. I've been working for the past three years to earn up to this and it's finally here, so I'm going to enjoy this," Wilson said. "It's amazing because everybody is always talking about Dakari Carter, Myron Jones, KeShun Jones. Now, I finally have my name out there, and hopefully I get the recognition that I've been working to get."
Rootstown's Abby Moore was another first-time PTC champion with her dominance in the County girls shot put Friday. After fouling on her first two flight attempts, she notched a 42-6 1/2 to make the finals, then got better and better with every single attempt.
"I was just going all out, just trying to throw like I normally do in practice, and I was fouling and going out the front, so I chilled and relaxed a little bit during finals and got those throws in," Moore said.
She landed a 44-6 on her first finals attempt, 45-6 1/4 with a second toss to dead center and capped her afternoon with a personal-record 45-10 1/4 with a line drive along the left line.
"If I can get it up a little more, it goes a few more feet," Moore said. "I'm really working on that."
Fellow Rovers star Logan Carpenter added a discus title Friday to Wednesday's shot title.