Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
May 30, 2019
Since getting bumped up to Division I in 2002, the Kenston girls track and field team hasn’t made much of name for itself in regional competition.
Kenston 2007 graduate Taryn Surtees clocked a program record in the 1,600-meter run in 5:05.46 her senior year and went on to finish ninth at the big dance.
And 2011 graduate Kim Gallavan marked 130 feet, 9 inches, before going on to finish her high school career by bettering her own program mark with a toss of 132 feet, 4 inches, to finish sixth on the state podium.
Through 17 years of competing in Division I, Surtees and Gallavan were the only Lady Bombers to post top-four finishes in regional competition, but neither of them won a region title.
That all changed on Friday, when Kenston’s four-by-100 relay of seniors Megan Randall, Rhianna Patrick and Izzy Gabram and junior Elyse Myles smashed their own program record by circling the track in 48.43 seconds to edge runner-up Twinsburg by 0.05 second.
The crazy thing is, that Lady Bomber quartet finished district runner-up in 49.83 seconds the previous week. On top of that, their best time in the regular season was 50.83 seconds.
During the regional prelims, Randall, Patrick, Gabram and Myles found their rhythm and clocked 49.06 seconds to best their program mark of 49.35 seconds from last year’s region meet, when they missed out on an at-large state bid by 0.67 second.
And although they clocked the fastest prelim time at 49.06 seconds this year, it took 49.00 seconds to get out of the Austintown Region when push came to shove in the finals.
Crowned the champions among 57 Division I programs in the Austintown Region, Randall, Patrick, Gabram and Myles are seeded seventh heading to the big dance this Friday and Saturday at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus.
They will be the first Lady Bomber four-by-100 quartet represented at states since 1985, when the Kenston team of Sharp, Anzolut, Behm and Martin competed in Class AA, or the equivalent of Division II, with a best time of 50.6 seconds that year.
In boys competition, meanwhile, Kenston senior Jakob McConnell finished sixth in the 3,200-meter run in 9:21.78, which was a lifetime best by 11.38 seconds from his previous week’s district performance.
Although McConnell would have been a regional champion out of Huber Heights and a regional runner-up out of Pickerington, the Bomber standout missed out on an at-large bid by 0.67 second to the fifth-place finisher out of the Amherst Region, which was just as stacked as Austintown.
That said, there will be seven guys out of southwest and central Ohio with slower regional times than McConnell who will be running the 3,200 meters in the Division I state meet this Saturday.
Nonetheless, McConnell ended his senior year as the second-fastest 3,200 runner in Bomber history, only behind Dan Franek, who won the 1984 Class AA state title in 9:06.20.
In the last race of McConnell’s high school career, the Stetson University signee passed up 1982 graduate Tom Franek, 9:26.07, 2004 graduate Justin Baum, 9:30.54, and 1982 graduate Eric Welter, 9:31.42, on Kenston’s all-time list.
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