Quaker girls run away with win

EAST PALESTINE – The Salem girls were surprised when they pulled away from the field at the 111th Columbiana County Track and Field Meet on Tuesday.

“I didn’t think it would be this way,” Salem girls coach Amie Cochran said. “I thought it could come down to the last race.”

“We were thinking three to five points, win or lose, against United,” Salem junior Marissa Swindell said. “I don’t know what happened.”

What happened is the Quakers won eight events, including three relays for 155 points – the third-highest total in county history.

“It’s a big deal for us and a huge accomplishment,” Salem senior Megan Lehwald said.

“I feel like a proud mother of 32,” Cochran said. “It took every single one of them. We knew it would. It was a whole team effort.”

Swindell, Lehwald and junior Julia Dundon were three-time winners as the Quakers pulled away.

“I did not keep score this entire meet like usually do,” Cochran said. “:I wanted to focus on encouraging my girls and not on the score.”

“We knew it was going to be close with United,” Lehwald said. “We tried not to psych ourselves out. We knew if we stayed 100 focused, we would reach our goal.”

United was second with 130 points and Columbiana matched its highest county finish by placing third with 86 points.

“United’s coach was our coach’s coach,” Swindell said. “That’s a nice little friendly rivalry.”

Swindell won the 200-meter dash (26.69 seconds) and 400 dash (60.28) and was second in the 100 dash.

Other Salem winners were Lehwald who repeated in the long jump (16-1 1/2), junior Alyssa Wright in the discus (120-3) and senior Haley Martin in the shot put (33-6 3/4).

“I felt really confident,” Lehwald said. “My goal is to get first.”

The Quakers showed their team strength by ruling the relays. Swindell joined Lehwald, Dundon and Anna Wyss on the wining 1600 relay team (4:24.51).

Hannah Texter, Elizabeth Aukerman, Dundon and Lehwald also teamed to win the 400 relay (53.01) and 800 relay (1:51.95).

“I’m really happy how everything turned out,” Swindell said. “I was hoping the times would be lower, but I’ve got to be happy with first.”

Even happier that the Quakers won repeated as the team champion.

“We all put in 100 percent and we’re pleased with the results,” Swindell said. “It was a great meet for all of us.”

Meet record

United senior Allison Parks set the lone meet record, breaking the oldest girls mark at the county meet.

Her winning time of 2:17.99 broke the meet record of 2:22.60 set by Salem’s Janet Bettis and the school record of 2:20.7 set by Evelyn Snow. Both of those records were set in 1977.

It was her fourth straight title in the 800 run. Parks won three events as she finished with 13 county track titles.

“She’s a great kid,” Cochran said. “I’m so impressed with her character on and off the track.”

Parks captured high-point honors in the running events for the third straight year with 32 points.

Besides the 800, she also won the 1600 run (5:34.89) and 3200 run (12:45.41). She also ran on the second-place 1600 relay team.

Cochran was still rooting for Parks even though she thought Parks may beat her team.

“My (children) love her,” Cochran said. “They want to be like her.”

Meet notes

Columbiana has some athletes to keep track of.

Junior Shayla Ray repeated in the 110 hurdles (16.56) and (high jump (5-0), while junior Skye Kramer won the 300 hurdles (50.90).

Senior Addie Dunlap won the high-point award in the field events with 16 points. She was second in the discus and shot put.

East Palestine’s 3200 relay team of Haley Hall, Korynn Crawford, Justina Stanislaw and Hannah Hall won the meet’s first race (10:43.16).

Lehwald was a last-second replacement in the 1600 relay, finding out 5 minutes before the race.

“I said all right, put me in coach,” Lehwald said. “I’ll do anything they want.”

In the 38 years of the girls meet, the Salem girls have won 16 times and finished second 16 other times.

With the Salem boys expecting to win year, the girls are doing the same.

“We have our competition going on the bus,” Swindell said.

“They want to win like the boys,” Cochran said. “They are a close-knit unit. It’s grown the last couple of years so the girls believe they can win.”