EUCLID, Oh - Wishing to waste no time between successive invitational victories, the Track and Field Cats showed up ready to run through the wind and rain at the Euclid Relays on Friday. The team strung together incredible individual and relay performances to pull nearly dead-even with GlenOak before the night's last event. Glenoak's Tommy Rice, winning the 3200m, 1600m, and leading his team to second in the 4x800m, had added 28 points to GlenOak's pre-4x400m total of 82. The Wildcats had 81, just one point back. Ten points go to the winner of every event and eight points to second place.
The 4x400m would be a winner-take-all. The victory rested on the shoulders of Damon Frabotta, Ben Showman, Samurai Chung and Max Muresan. But first in this story, the rest of the meet…
First on the track was Sean Uhran in the 3200m run. Sean went out with Rice through three laps and came through 1600m in a blazing 4:38. When a chase pack caught Sean with three laps to go, Sean and Glenoak's Tesfaye Young traded the lead until Sean made a move with 500m to go. Tesfaye pursued and sprinted with Sean side-by-side over the last 100m, beating Sean by .35 seconds. Sean ran narrowly off of his lifetime best in 9:33.19, earning six points.
The Sprint Medley Relay, starting with two 100m legs, then a 200m, then an anchor 400m, featured Edwin Abiakl (in his outdoor season premiere after injury), Christian Cupp, Peter McGreal and Max Muresan. The boys dominated this race from the gun, beating the field to every handoff, running a 1:34.51 time to win ten points, nearly two seconds ahead of the next team.
Damon Frabotta ran an excellent 14.45 to win the 110m hurdles, setting a new PR and placing himself sixth in the state rankings and first in the region and district. This year, Damon has run five times under 15.00 in the 110m hurdles after having a season-best of 15.56 last year.
In the 100m dash, Shane Morrison ran 11.33 for an official PR of over half a second, earning sixth place and scoring three points. With fourth place running 11.29 and eighth place running 11.35 in this race, the race was absolutely thrilling, with Morrison in the middle of a five-man photo finish. Shane edging past two runners at the line, unbeknownst at the time, was huge in the Wildcats winning the meet.
Tragedy struck in the Wildcats' 4x200m relay as the third and final baton exchange fell apart, and the baton was never passed. The Wildcats were in fourth place heading into that exchange and had a fierce anchor leg coming but will have to wait to run again until they enter the District Meet with a team season best of 1:31.85.
Two Wildcats broke 2:00 in the 4x800m relay. The two men also added 2:03s to win a much-needed ten points toward the team total. John Corrigan smashed his lifetime best, with a time of 1:58, followed by freshman Ronan Donnelly with a 2:03 and Alex Paliga with an outdoor season-best of 1:59. Ben Showman, the 400m specialist, finished the kill for the Cats with his outdoor season debut in the 800m, running an excellent time of 2:03 and holding off GlenOak's Matthew Tschantz for the win.
8:04.50 was the time for the Cats, a season-best by over ten seconds, putting them 12th in the state and around the same clocking at this point in the season as last year's fourth-place in the State Meet 4x800m team.
Edwin Abiakl, Peter McGreal, Shane Morrison and Christian Cupp all returned to the track for the 4x100m, running an average of 11.11 seconds per man to earn a seventh-place and two points. The Wildcats' season best is 43.67, but this relay has significant upside potential to improve in the postseason.
The Distance Medley Relay is every distance coach's dream and spectator's nightmare. For 4000m, athletes run seemingly random distances and handoff the baton; teams get lapped, 800m and 1600m athletes have to figure out how to run a 1200m, and when it's raining, the girls and boys relays add another 30 minutes to an already long-enough meet.
The Wildcats made this DMR a great one, with nearly every leg ending with a sprint to the handoff between the Cats and Boardman, Glenoak, or Huron. Matt Kelly led off with an 800m PR of 2:03 to hand off in second place, followed by Aidan Zielinski, who clocked 53 seconds for 400m.
With a Huron runner in his wake, Uhran ran the 1200m leg in 3:20 and handed the lead over to Danny Becker to grind through the rain and wind for 1600m. Elijah Routh made a pass at 250m and took the win for the Tigers. Danny split 4:40 and the Cats ran a season's best 10:59.47, for a final standing of 33rd in the state. What these Wildcats may have done with an all-fresh and stacked lineup will never be known, as the DMR will not be contested in the postseason championships.
Three running events remained and Aiden Walter ran possibly the day's race in the 1600m run. Aiden, who has patiently clicked one second off of his PR on five separate occasions this season, exploded with a six-second improvement to drop a 4:33 1600m time as a freshman. This season, Aiden has improved as a runner and as a racer, and he's not done yet. Aiden ran sixth place against all upperclassmen to earn three points.
Bobby Starck finished just out of scoring position in the 400m dash, running a 54.13 through powerful winds to earn 10th place.
The Cats' high jump relay took fourth place and five points in the field, with Jordan Rodmon and Cupp reaching 6-0 and 5-06.25, respectively. The team of Frank Pike and Cupp won their second long jump relay in back-to-back meets, jumping 20-7.5 and 19-5, respectively! Chris Kondas and Andre Jakubowicz set new PRs to earn third place and six points in the pole vault! Chris reached 13-0 to improve from 12-6, and Andre got to 11-0, up from 10-6.
In the shot put relay, Will Robinson hit a 44-9 and Will Witalis reached 40-10.5. The two combined for fourth place and five points. And lastly, in the discus throw relay, Witalis and Greg Hanson added four points to the Wildcats' team total, throwing 129-10 and 104-5, respectively, for fifth.
So far, the distance side had added 10, 8, 6 and 3 for 27. The sprint side had 10, 10, 2 and 2 for 24. Field events gave 10, 6, 5, 5 and 4 for 30. The total was 81 from an incredibly balanced attack.
One event lingered. The most remarkable event in track and field. It has the speed, the length to let a race develop, and the team aspect. It's under the lights, the last event of every meet. The team title usually hangs in the balance. You couldn't ask for a better end to a track meet. It's the 4x400m relay. Running for the Wildcats were Damon Frabotta, Ben Showman, Samurai Chung, and Max Muresan.
Damon led off, the typical hurdler coming out of the blocks steadier than his debut 400m last Friday and went around the second turn near the front. As he continued down the home stretch toward the handoff, Showman and a roaring crowd awaited him. Frabotta handed off to Showman at 50 seconds. Showman ran into the break at 500m and cut toward the inside, evident in the lead. The 2021 District 400m champion, Showman, maintained the lead with a solid last 100m and gave Chung the baton at 1:21. Chung exploded into the first 150m but felt Beachwood's presence on his shoulder. He held off a move from Beachwood's Caleb Berns and handed off with the slightest of margins to Muresan at 2:31. Max "All I do is win" Muresan was far clear of sixth-in-the-race GlenOak and only needed to make sure the baton got around safely to get the win.
But Max wanted the win, and he dropped the hammer, keeping Beachwood's David Steckner, a 50-second runner, at bay over the final lap, with Max winning by one second. Both anchor legs ran sub-50, with Max clocking 49.7, a PR and team season-best. The 4x400m ran the number one time in the state this year to win the race, the meet, and the number one spot in Ohio going into the postseason, 3:21.49.
"Some good things are happening," says Head Track and Field Coach Chuck Kyle '69. The Cats have a rest week this upcoming weekend before postseason racing begins. Wednesday and Friday, May 18th and 20th, will be the District Championships from Amherst Steele High School. After that, on May 25th and 27th at Findlay University will be the Regional Championships. Finally, on June 2nd and 3rd from Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, the State Championship.