AUSTINTOWN - All season long, the West Branch, South Range and United girls track teams have seen their share of success and top placements. Thursday, however, just wasn't one of those days.
All three schools faced stiff competition in the Division II regional meet at Austintown Fitch's Falcon Stadium, and fell short of state berths in the 3200-meter relay despite running season-best times Thursday. They will have to wait until Saturday for more chances.
"The competition was very tough," West Branch senior Erin Carver said. "Division II is a very strong division."
The Warriors, perhaps, had the most heartbreaking of scenarios. Holding third throughout the race, the Warriors seemed primed for state in the 3200 relay with seniors Erin and Rachel Carver, sophomore Haley Davis and freshman Calista Waters, but got passed on the final lap and settled for fifth (9:50.52).
"That last lap, we just lost a lot of steam," Davis said. "It was very close. It was nobody's fault, anyone could have caught up to us."
Rachel, was excited, however, to finally achieve this season's goal to finish the 3200 relay in under 10 minutes.
"It felt really good," Rachel said. "We worked all year to get it under 10 minutes, and we were just glad to finally get that done."
Erin and Rachel's main focus for Saturday will be in the 1600 relay as the Carvers, Davis and Waters finished eighth (4:10.02) in the preliminaries.
Also in the 3200 relay, South Range placed eighth (10:00.69) with the team of senior Matti Dunham and sophomores Kameron Hobbs, Madelyn Kimpel and Mollie Pierson, and United finished 11th (10:15.99) with junior Maggie Briceland, freshman Brynn Hofmeister, sophomore Hunter Urmson and senior Allison Parks.
Despite the disappointment in the 3200, South Range will have an opportunity at state as Raianne Mason finished third in the 300 hurdles prelims (46.21) and will advance to Saturday's finals.
Also with golden opportunity on Saturday is the Salem girls team. Marissa Swindell will advance to Saturday's finals in the 400 dash (60.43), and hopes to beat the school record of 59.30, a feat she almost accomplished last week.
"I'm hoping I can make it to state," Swindell said. "This would me a lot to me."
"She has done great this year," Salem girls coach Amie Cochran said. "We hope she can do well next week and maybe even beat the record."
The Quakers, meanwhile, came up short of Saturday's finals as they placed 12th in the 1600 relay (4:16.39) and 14th in the 400 relay (52.48). Swindell did not race in the 200 dash.
West Branch also came up short of qualifying for state as Lea Bock placed fifth in shot put (37-4.75), and Brianna Long was tied for 13th in the high jump (4-8). The Warriors also fell in the prelims as Karlie Williamson placed 12th in the 100 dash (13.55). Erin did not race in the 200 and 400 dashes despite qualifying last week, and Rachel did not race in the 300 hurdles.
South Range also missed the state in shot put as Catherine Schuler places sixth (36-10 3/4) as well as in the high jump with Andrea Oliver's fifth-place showing (5-0).
In addition, the team of Gina Belotta, Emily Moretti, Kameron Hobbs and Raianne Mason missed Saturday's finals as they placed 14th in the 800 relay (1:51.20). Mason will return Saturday as had the third-fastest time in the 300 hurdles (46.21).