Twinsburg’s distance and middle distance crew had a good meet, but head coach Anthony Byrd’s boys team scored points all over the place against some potent competition at the Suburban League National Conference Championships.
Individual league championship performances were turned in by Twinsburg standouts Tyson Jacobs and Logan Doyle at Tiger Stadium, but possibly the most impressive result came in a relay event.
The Tigers’ unheralded 3,200-meter relay crew took home a spirited title by having their best race of the year in the league. They won and were seeded fifth.
Crossing with a time of 7-minutes and 59.10 seconds, the relay included Aiden Bennage, Evan Schneeman, Ryan Mulenga, and Aiden Cain.
“The 3,200 relay won an outstanding race that saw the top five teams under 8:10,” commented Twinsburg cross country coach Sarah Kmet, who also coaches the distance runners in track and is the head coach for the Tiger’s powerful girls’ squad.
“To dip under 8-minutes is big and this group has a great chance of making it to state,” added Kmet.
To the delight of Byrd, who coaches the throwers in the Tiger program, Jacobs excelled in the shot put finals for the Tigers.
With a throw of 51-feet and 4.0 inches, Jacobs had his best throw and won the shot put championship. Jacobs is a Lake Erie College commit.
Jacobs beat Hudson’s Blake Toth, who bested him in the discus throw. Toth won the discus with a toss of 143-4 feet while Jacobs had one of his better tosses to gain second with a heave of 133-3 feet.
“Tyson continues to amaze me this season as he had a bit of a lingering injury that he has fought through this season,” expressed Byrd. “He works extremely hard in practice, perfecting his technique and has worked to relax more this season.”
“It was great energy between Tyson and Blake Toth battling in the finals for the top stop all the way to the final throw of each in finals,” emphasized Byrd. “Tyson would throw a season-best to claim the conference title in the shot pot. The competition between the both of them will continue this week at districts.”
The gifted Doyle won in 49.38 seconds in an impressive field of runners in the 400-meter competition at Tiger Stadium.
Doyle is a post season threat in the 400 and possibly other events as he ran as fast as 48.76 seconds in the league’s 400 races.
“It was great to see Logan continue to push himself this season and rise to the challenge as he is one of our leaders on this team,” said Byrd.
“Logan will compete in the 800 relay, 200, 400, and the 1,600 relay as we begin prep for the district meet,” added Byrd. “Sprint coaches Derek McKinley and new addition Nick Crevda have done an excellent job this year with our sprinters this season and getting them prepared for the postseason.”
Another huge performance for the Tigers was turned in by Josh Schiopota.
Schiopota was the runner-up in the pole vault. He cleared a bar that was set up at 12-0 feet to finish behind Stow-Munroe Falls champ Luke Cimera, who cleared 12-4 feet.
“Josh is the most resilient athlete on this team this season,” remarked Byrd. “His pole vault coach, Roger Buell, has done amazing work with the pole vault athletes this season and it has allowing Josh to flourish.”
“You have to kick this group out of the stadium once practice has finished because they refuse to go and would jump all night if allowed to stay,” mused Byrd.
“Josh has become so technical with his approach to his vaults and spends countless hours analyzing film of his jumps in order to attain perfection,” added Byrd. “His work ethic has been infectious with the other vaulters and he does a great job of helping out his teammates with their vaults.”
Veteran Tigers Josh Mikulka and Cain had strong meets, but had to finish second in their respective events to some outstanding athletes.
Cain was the runner-up in the 800-meter race. He had a strong time of 1:56.59 and was edged by Hudson standout Titan Casey, who crossed in 1:54.86.
Mikulka ran into Nordonia’s Matt Hayes, who had two of his three individual titles in the hurdle races. He beat Mikulka each time and Hayes had 36 points in the meet.
In the 110-meter highs, Mikulka crossed in 15.81 seconds while Hayes sped to victory in 15.19 ticks.
Mikulka was timed at 41.17 seconds in the 300 race, behind Hayes, who was at a blazing fast 39.38 ticks.
Twinsburg’s sprint relays did well in some loaded events – the Tigers raced to thirds in the 400-meter relay (43.87 seconds) and in the 800-meter relay (1:30.60).
Comprising the 400-relay was Marcell Spencer Jr., Quincy Newsom, Michael Cline Jr., and J.D. Roberson.
The 800-relay cast included Roberson, Mikulka, Cline Jr., and Doyle, as the anchor.
In the team race, Stow edged Hudson for the team crown 146.5-146 while Twinsburg placed third with 115 team points to finish above Nordonia (104).
“It was a great two days of competition and finally the weather cooperated, giving us clear skies and warm temps,” said Byrd. “It was good to see our athletes compete at a high level and in the best weather of the season.”
The 1,600-meter relay crew ran well to collect fourth with a strong time of 3:24.09. This quartet had Mulenga, Mikulka, Cain, and Doyle.
Kmet loved the performances of the 3,200 and 1,600-meter relays teams and while the competition will get more difficult for districts and regionals, she is excited to see where these crews place.
“The 1,600-relay was also an incredible race,” she stressed. “The top three teams broke the previous meet record. Our 3:24 was good enough for only fourth, a testament to how loaded the field was.”
“We are really looking forward to these rematches at the district meet next week,” said Kmet.
Twinsburg will compete at the division I District Championships May 18 and May 20 at Nordonia, where the top four finishers in each event will advance to the Austintown Fitch Regionals Championships May 25 and May 27.
Donald Mold secured fourth-place in the discus throw as he hurled it 123-5 feet.
Zion Dixon had a big fifth-place race to score high in the 110-meter high hurdles. He crossed in 16.75 seconds.
In the 1,600-meter open race, Bennage ran well to a fifth-place in 4:38.88. Also running well in the event was Schneeman, who snagged seventh-place with a fast time of 4:42.99.
Christian Spires also continues to improve for the Tigers as he scored in the high jump, placing fifth at 5-6 feet.
In the 100-meters, Cline Jr. ran sixth in 11.52 seconds while Roberson was next at 11.63 ticks. Roberson also raced sixth to score in the 200-meters in 23.18 seconds.
More points came in the pole vault as Michael Noga grabbed eighth at 10-0 feet. Koren Goss scored in the 3,200 with an eight-place run of 10:33.62.
An improving Travis Smith nearly scored with a strong 300-meter hurdles races of 44.82 seconds, which garnered ninth place overall. Spires also came close to scoring in the long jump as he was ninth at 17-6.5 feet.