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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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Devin Snowden has become Mr. Everything for Eastwood track.

The Eastwood junior, who’s starred on the team for the past two seasons, is taking his game to new heights this year.

In a season that is less than a month old, Snowden has placed at or near the top in the long jump, the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

Snowden finished first at the Napoleon Invitational in the 110 hurdles (14.92), first in the long jump (22 feet, 1.25 inches), second in the 300 hurdles (39.62), and was part of the 4x400 relay team that was victorious. In the Lexington Invite, Snowden came in first in the long jump (21-8½), second in the 110 hurdles (14.77), fourth in the 300 hurdles (40.28) and was part of the 4x110 hurdle-shuttle relay that finished first.

DevinWarmUp 
Eastwood junior track and field athlete Devin Snowden stretches before a meet at Woodmore. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean)

Eastwood coach Brian Sabo is impressed with Snowden’s versatility. It’s a shame he cannot compete in more than four events per meet because of state association rules.

“I’ve told a lot of people he could do probably 10 of the 13 open events,” Sabo said. “He’s that versatile. He’s jumping extremely well. He’s running the 300 hurdles well, too. His time in the 110 hurdles in the third or fourth fastest time in Ohio, and obviously he’s a good guy on the 4x100 and the 4x400 relays. We have to decide which four events we want to put him in.”

Sabo speaks highly of Snowden’s character.

“If you ever watch Devin compete, he’s very humble and very encouraging of his teammates,” Sabo said. “He walks down and shakes the hand of every opponent before the race. He never complains, works hard, is encouraging of his teammates and always gets along with the other athletes from other schools.”

Snowden, who was part of the 4x100 team that finished sixth in the Division II state meet last year, also placed seventh in the 300 hurdles. In both events, he was a regional champion, too. Plus, he qualified for state in the long jump as a freshman.

Sabo believes that Snowden, known also for his talents on the football field, could compete collegiately as a running back or possibly in track and field in the decathlon.

Sabo, now in his third year at the program’s helm, has been with the staff 17 years and has seen the team win 13 consecutive conference titles. The high point came when the Eagles won back-to-back D-II state titles in 2009 and 2010 under former coach Gary White and was state runner-up in 2008.

“I think we’re fortunate that many of the kids enjoy the sport,” Sabo said. “We try to make it fun. We really dive into the kids as people and the coach-athlete relationship. I’m curious about how they’re doing in the classroom and how their family is doing. We’re taking an interest in the kids.

“I think the kids believe in their coaching staff. I think they believe that, No. 1, we want them to get better whether they’re the first of the 65th person on the team. They believe in the knowledge of the staff — the coaches go far to further their knowledge on the sport. And there’s the discipline from Gary White — he’s going to love you and he’s going to discipline you.”

This year, the Eagles have not missed a beat, winning every dual and tri-meet while dominating at weekend invitationals. Eastwood finished first out of eight teams at the Liberty-Benton Relays, came in second at the Lexington Invite and was first at the Napoleon Invite, an eight-team event that featured Northern Lakes League schools Perrysburg, Napoleon and Bowling Green.

The team has depth, as evidenced by their competitiveness in nearly every event. In addition to their relay teams, athletes like Brennan Seifert, Gabe Fredericks, Tim Hoodlebrink, Jake Hoodlebrink, Joey Salinas, Steven Bradley and Andrew Caris, among others, have helped lead the Eagles to another event winning campaign.

The success, according to Sabo, started with the hard work the team invests once practice begins.

“One thing I appreciate out of our guys is that when you ask them to work and give a great effort, they do that and go slightly above and beyond,” he said. “We only stayed inside once during the early part of the season with the cold weather. They never complained about that. When you ask people to do that, you have a lot of respect for that. The amount of effort they give, the respect they give the coaching staff, I really appreciate that. And there’s a great respect between the kids and the coaching staff. There’s a tradition that comes from the seniors. It’s nice to see the juniors and seniors doing well because we counted on them as freshman and sophomores.”

One thing the coaches at Eastwood have embraced is the benefit that comes from athletes competing in multiple sports and how that helps them to stay in shape. Track and field is considered Exhibit A for that important connection that exists between the sports.

“We have a great relationship for a lot of other coaches,” Sabo said. “We want anybody who runs track to do another sport. A lot of the kids do two to three sports. The football coaches appreciate that because we try to make (the athletes) faster and we do weight training with them. That work ethic is still there. That’s part of the culture.”

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