The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


June 14, 2014

A Rich Kelly column: Officials right on track

Student-athletes honored at banquet to put a perfect bow on school year

WARREN — Another stellar season has reached its end for area athletes, and Ashtabula County and surrounding areas which local teams compete with have a great deal of efforts by our athletes to be proud of.

Benchmarks which local athletes for years to come were set, and while we did not see any state titles, area athletes came extremely close in several areas which will be targets for younger stars to strive for and talk about for a long, long time.

Thursday night at Enzo’s Restaurant and Lounge’s banquet facilities, senior athletes from Ashtabula and Trumbull counties were honored for their efforts with awards from the Mahoning Valley Track Officials Association.

The MVTOA group has supplied officials for local track and cross country meets for years, and as they honored their own with service awards to close the evening, honoring special performances by athletes from both counties was the highlight of the evening.

Cross country runners were honored first.

Lakeside’s Karen Barrientos was up first, for her superb efforts for the Dragon cross country squad of coach Chris Powers.

“I think the biggest thing for Karen this year in cross country was learning how to run smart, tactical races,” Powers said. “She was dedicated to training right all year, for both cross country and track, and you can’t match her determination.”

While competing in sports takes physical strength, the inner workings of the mind make a huge difference as well, and the diminuitive Dragon senior had no trouble putting it all on the line with each event.

“I just tried to stay motivated to my goals,” she said. “I also used the achievements of Mallory Dragon to motivate myself, too. The mental part of it is important, and motivation and determination work together.”

An athlete not many heard about was honored for boys cross country.

Rory Gallatin of Pymatuning Valley came out of nowhere his last 2 seasons for the Lakers to earn this award.

“When I was in 7th grade, I actually despised the idea of running,” he said. “I’m not exactly the normal athlete, physically, but after I got out of middle school, I decided to give running a try. I found out it was really a lot of fun, so my goal was to be one of the best runners on our team. I at least wanted to be in the top 2 or 3.

“We had some good teams my last 2 seasons, making it back to regionals back to back, and I guess I worked hard enough to be among the top 2 or 3 guys on the team. It was a great lesson in life for me, and it was a lot of fun to succeed.”

The Trumbull County cross country honorees were Jerrilyn Krumpe of Badger and Bobby Johnson of McDonald.

When the track efforts of recent vintage came up, the first honoree was unable to attend. That was Hailey VanHoy of Geneva, who helped lead coach Bobby McQuoid’s girls to some record-breaking local efforts as well as a superb state run.

Two young men who grew up into giants in their efforts for their teams were honored.

Edgewood’s Matt Fitchet made a monstrous run at the state shot-put title in Division II before coming up a fraction of a foot short, good for second place in Columbus. The honors have flowed fast and furious lately as the senior, heading to Mount Union University in the fall to put on the pads for football coach Vince Kerhes, and he’s earned every one of them.

“I knew coming into my last year,” the 6-foot-5 senior said, “that I needed to work on my form, both for myself and what I had set up as goals, and for my school and community. I hit the weight room hard, worked hard with my coaches, and it seems like the last couple months everything has just fallen together just fine.”

It sure has, as covering starting with the Laker Invitational last month and continuing on through the county meet and then the tourney trail on the road to Columbus, Fitchet has extended his efforts each and every time.

Jefferson’s David Chase has also gotten to be a constant target for opponents in his events, and he rose to the occasion, despite not having his best days, to grab fourth place in the high jump and a solid effort in the 400 as well. Constant work had been his mantra, and it showed as he placed his name in local record books to be an example for a long time as well, much as Fitchet did.

“Me and (Jefferson) Coach (T.J. Furman) decided during the regional preliminaries to drop the 200 run from my calendar,” the 6-7 Falcon skywalker said. “Well, I guess it was mostly my decision. I was having a bad day, and I just made the decision. This track season has just been so much fun, anyway, and now I am more or less kicking myself for scratching the 200, but I’m happy with how things went in both the 400 and the high jump.”

Chase had risen to the top of the area efforts in the 200 during late-season meets, so it looked like he might be in a good spot for a run there as well, but it was not to be.

Trumbull County track stars honored were Jai’Lyn Mosley of McDonald, who was at the top of the heap in both the shot put and discus for her school’s state title team, and Carl Fallow of Warren John F. Kennedy, who was a whirlwind in the sprints in Columbus, winning the 100 and placing in the 200 and 400.

Special scholarships were awarded by the MTVOA’s Ernie Grekis on behalf of late association stalwarts Paul Gore , whose award went to Mosley for her efforts, and the Bogan Reed Award, to younger brother of Carl Fallow, Chad.

The night was capped by the service awards to MVTOA members, and fittingly, the final night’s award went to former Pymatuning Valley athletic director and Mr. Does-It-All-When -You-Ask-Him, Ron Weaver, honored for his 45 years of service to the association.

The athletes honored are the benchmark for younger athletes to look up to now, but Weaver’s efforts have carried athletics both at PV and other areas to very high levels that these runners and throwers of today have a long way of catching up to.

With hard work, though, new levels can be reached. These young adults proved it over and over again.

Thanks to the MVTOA for making this a special night for many. These officials definitely got this call on the money.

Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.

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