Here are five takeaways from Friday’s Division III Perry Regional:
1. Mogadore wins the regional title
Going into the Division III Perry Regional final event, the Wildcats had their eye on a title.
A 4×400 championship, that is.
Down 10 in the tag team standings entering the 17th and final event on the girls’ side, Mogadore had no idea she was in contention for a tag team championship.
“I had no idea,” Wildcats coach Kim Kreiner said. “I wasn’t paying attention to the team’s score.”
Neither did senior Amber Morris, who ran the title anchor without fully realizing what it meant.
“I wasn’t aware,” Morris said. “I had no idea so I was super excited after the 4×400 when they said that because I was super surprised.”
That 4×400 title gave Mogadore the 10 points he needed to catch Mapleton, who had no stint in the final event, and hold off Dalton, who came third to finish a point behind the Mounties and Wildcats. , who shared the title.
“I think it’s pretty huge for the school,” Kreiner said. “That’s pretty huge for the program. It shows you that hard work is paying off and this program is starting to build and we have a pretty solid core of girls here who obviously don’t like to lose.”
In that stint, freshman Julie Tompkins provided a “really strong” first leg, according to Kreiner, and second Brooklyn McIntyre “kept in touch with the frontrunners.” Sophomore Katie Lane took the lead and senior Amber Morris only widened the lead.
“Amber being a senior, being the most experienced at the regional meet, having been here a few times before, knew exactly what she needed to do to bring this race home and has only excelled,” said Kreiner. “It was a really great race to watch.”
Mogadore’s tag team title was particularly notable given that he brought only six girls in five events to the regional meet. The Wildcats were first after day one, thanks to their 4×800 title and sixth-place finish by Brooklyn Beckford in the shot put, but fell back midway through day two. Mogadore began to surge again amid Friday’s action as Lane’s title in the 800 meters and 4×400 provided 10 points each while Tompkins added five more with his fourth-place finish in the 400.
Given the margin, Mogadore needed each of those points.
“If you eliminate one of those six girls, this championship will never happen,” Kreiner said. “So it just goes to show that every one of those girls is very important to the performance of this team.”
2. Rootstown finishes third
For the second consecutive year, Rovers took third place in the region.
And for the third season in a row, Rootstown is sending a 4×200 to the state.
Rovers’ quartet of seniors Marinna Atanmo and Jenna Kurtz, second-year Melanie Plecko and rookie Sasha Nichols earned another state berth with a third-place finish in 4:17.12.
“Marinna started off really well,” Rootstown coach Kyle Rodstrom said. “Jenna was really super strong on the home stretch, put us fifth and then Sasha Nichols really picked up some ground and gave Melanie enough room and she can really run a good leg and finish strong.”
3. Marinna Atanmo excels once again
Atanmo made the most of her last trip to Perry, qualifying for the state in three of the four events she entered on Friday.
Along with running a blistering opening round in the 4×200, Atanmo won a regional championship in the 300 hurdles (45.38) and finished second in the 100 (15.42).
The 300 was particularly exciting as Atanmo found herself challenged to enter the home stretch, which hasn’t happened much throughout the season as Steubenville Central Catholic senior Clara Symington had reason with Atanmo in the last curve.
For a moment, the larger Symington threatened to get ahead.
Instead, Atanmo’s blistering speed paid off.
“That’s the thing with her is that she’s a legitimately fast 100-yard kid and she’s a legitimately quick 400-yard kid,” Rodstrom said. “So those two together really gave him an edge over a lot of other kids.”
4. Katie Lane executes a late pass to the 800
Like Marinna Atanmo, Katie Lane found herself in a bit of an unusual position as she entered the home stretch of the 800m race on Friday.
The second Mogadore was behind.
But not for long.
Behind Rittman rookie Merrick Gibson for most of Friday’s race, Lane caught her and eventually prevailed by just over a second, crossing the line in 2:17.39.
“I didn’t expect the girl in front of me to be in front of me,” Lane said. “I thought I would be there with her, but like the last 200m I started to get my kick that I have with most runs, so that last 100m I gave it my all.”
Maybe Gibson helped Lane reach what was ultimately a school record when she had just passed Hope Murphy’s mark in the 800.
“Katie looked up to Hope and Hope mentored Katie through college,” Kreiner said. “So I guess Hope knew her records weren’t going to last very long with Katie in high school.”
5. Julie Tompkins impresses with her fourth place finish in the 400m
Wildcats rookie Julie Tompkins was right on the bubble coming out of the first day of regional competition on Wednesday, after finishing fourth in the 400 preliminary race. On Friday, the impressive rookie earned another fourth place finish, in 1:00.57, to take the fourth and final automatic qualifying spot.
“I was very excited when I made the statement,” Tompkins said. “Especially for two events because I didn’t think about it, it wasn’t even a goal for me at the start of the year.”