Eastwood’s boys’ team has only had one outdoor meet so far this spring, but second-year coach Brian Sabo sounds like he’s died and gone to track and field heaven.
The Eagles, who defeated Clay and Tiffin Columbian in a tri-meet on Tuesday, got a huge momentum boost on March 16 when they won the team title at the 2013 Ohio ATCCC Indoor State Track & Field Championships at the University of Akron.
“I thought we performed very well,” Sabo said. “More than any performance, I thoroughly enjoyed our attitude and how we competed. That was far above the performances. We stressed we were using our indoor meets as a vehicle for our outdoor meets. It was a blessing to do that well indoors, to propel us for outdoor.”
The team title came down to the final event, the 4x400-meter relay. Eastwood trailed Warren JFK by one point, and the two schools squared off in that event. The Eagles’ foursome of seniors Isaiah Conkle and Blake Kohring and sophomores Brennan Seifert and Devin Snowden took third in the event.
“We had to beat Warren JFK to at least tie for the indoor title,” Sabo said. “We beat them by quite a bit more than we needed to. We knew the time we had to run and our kids just really went after it and competed. We were elated, just because of the effort they put in. I wanted to win that for them. We felt we could be at least in the top two. We were very happy and surprised.”
While Eastwood did not win any events at the indoor championships, it did get a second-place finish from Devin Snowden in the triple jump. Senior Derek Snowden was fourth in the same event.
Devin Snowden also placed third in the long jump, and junior Jake Hoodlebrink took fifth. The Eagles’ 4x200 relay team of Devin Snowden, senior John Rogers, junior Brent Schlumbohm and Conkle took fourth. Kohring also placed seventh in the 60-meter hurdles.
The Eagles’ 4x800 relay team of seniors Gabe Fredericks and Randy Caris and sophomores Tim Hoodlebrink and Noah Smith also qualified to the state meet.
Eastwood’s girls’ team had four state indoor championship qualifiers in senior Hannah Firsdon, who placed third in the triple jump, Elise Wolff, Maddie Jackson and Aricka LaVoy.
Sabo’s boys’ squad has 57 competitors on this year’s team, and the coach said the entire squad appears to be ahead of schedule for the outdoor season.
“I just look at what we did last year, our attitude and how we competed,” Sabo said. “The performances and times are all a little bit better. Our attitude and how we’re competing are better. Blake ran faster than he did a year ago (indoors), when he was fourth. He ran significantly faster than he did a year ago. Nobody knows about him yet, but he’s going to have a good year as well.”
Sabo said he isn’t ready to proclaim that this year’s squad is better than last year’s team, which won its 12th straight league title.
“We had some phenomenal senior leaders last year,” he said. “This year there is so much team unity and support for one another and team effort. We have a lot of good leaders. The young guys and old guys just mesh. That’s the part I think I’m enjoying the most.”
Sabo added that the Eagles are pretty balanced in every area on the track and in the field events.
“Our hurdles are very good and our sprints are very good,” he said. “We have a lot of good returners in the long jump and high jump. We’re younger in the throws and pole vault, but we’re showing signficant improvement from those who are returning. We’re just still very young in those areas.
“The coaching staff is just dramatically focused on improving daily and giving uncommon effort. We feel everything in the end will take care of itself. We definitely want to win the league again and get as many guys as we can to the state meet. We’ll let everything play out and see where we’re at.”
Eastwood celebrates an indoor state track championship.