Chardon's Dietz, local contingent have night for the ages during Division I Austintown-Fitch Regional track and field Day 2

May 24—YOUNGSTOWN — Upon conclusion of the boys 4×400-meter relay May 24 during Day 2 of the Division I Austintown-Fitch Regional, Matthew Sopchak turned to Karl Dietz.

Both ever the perfectionists of their craft, Sopchak reminded Dietz it might be an ample opportunity to go cool down.

Dietz needed just a moment, though — and for good reason.

The Chardon senior — and The News-Herald coverage area on this memorable evening, for that matter — may not be cooling down from the emotional high that Day 2 yielded across the facility.

In all, six regional champions were crowned and 23 state berths were secured.

Then there was also the matter of the regional runner-up trophy the Hilltoppers had acquired with 43 points. Dietz helped lead the charge with a 400 title and anchoring Chardon's victorious 4×4.

"It is really cool to be a part of," Dietz said. "Huge, huge benchmark as a program. Great young talent. I don't know — it's all very electric. To come out here and be able to butt heads with schools like GlenOak and Mentor and look great while doing it, I think that's huge. That's something the program has never seen before, at least off the top of my head.

"I'm proud, just being surrounded by a great group of guys. That's what it boils down to. It's a great, great group of guys."

?? Here are my usual NH area video meet highlights, this time from D1 Fitch Regional Day 2

(meet story will be shared with everything embedded in a moment)

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024

Dietz's open 4 was regional-record and nearly all-time News-Herald coverage area record-breaking. He hit the line with a time of 46.62 seconds, .21 off Robert Smith's all-time area standard. It is also his fourth state berth in open 4, joining Smith as the only boys student-athletes in coverage area lore to be a four-time state qualifier in the event.

?? Here are podiums from D1 Fitch Regional Day 2 in which we had NH area regional champions (except 4×4 ... that was a claustrophobic mess lol, so no dice on that)

Was glad to get Andris' announcement on Karl's open 4 record in its entirety

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024

"I felt pretty great," the reigning D-I open 4 state champion said with a smile. "My main focus was just hammering that back 200. I mentioned last week not really being happy with the back half, so I wanted to bring it out and really hammer it home.

"Usually, I can tell I ran a good race. With 30 meters left, I'm wiggling and falling all over the place. That's how it felt today. I figured it was something good, and I'm really glad to see that. Honestly with how I felt, the time exceeded my expectations for how I was feeling. I'm really happy."

The 4×4 work from Sopchak, Caleb Hewitt, Jacob Nieset and Dietz was outstanding, with Dietz powering home on the anchor as the Hilltoppers recorded a strong pre-state time of 3:19.34 for their fifth boys 4×4 state berth all-time.

Also a key component of Chardon's night to remember was a masterclass of a 3,200 from Taman Chokshi. Locked in a pacey pack of four for much of the race, Chokshi pulled away at the gun for the Fitch Regional crown in 9:03.90.

"I am extremely thrilled," Chokshi said. "Coming into the race, you've got amazing competition from all over Northeast Ohio. ... But I was hungry. I look up to Karl Dietz a lot. I was talking to him, and he said, 'It doesn't matter. You've just got to take it and do what you want with it.' I was extremely hungry. I woke up feeling dangerous, and I ran my race."

Mayfield's Ty Jackson captured 110 hurdles with a 13.68, .05 off his coverage area record-setting performance last week at the D-I Mentor District. Jackson is the first Wildcats' boys hurdler to advance to state in 110 hurdles or its predecessor 120 hurdles since 1961.

"I was just really proud after I looked at the wind," Jackson said. "It was a headwind. Because I feel like if it wasn't a headwind, the record would have been gone. But it's all about consistency. So when I get to the state meet, we're supposed to be running on a fast track, I'm trying to keep going.

"(Being the first since 1961) feels great. Knowing that I came this far and all the things that I've been through, I've just got to thank God. Without Him, none of this would have happened."

The respectful but red-hot competition between Jackson and his fellow coverage area standard bearer Tyrell Cloud of Brush lived up to billing once again.

Cloud was third in 110 hurdles with a 14.19 and delivered a 36.95 in 300 hurdles to take home gold there. The standout senior is now a three-time state qualifier in 1s and a two-time qualifier in 3s.

"Yeah, that was amazing," Cloud said. "That was the goal, a 36 early, then dominate at state."

Cloud was also elated to be part of the Arcs' 4×4 advancing in third with a 3:21.14 for their first state berth in the event since 2004.

"That's amazing," Cloud said. "The great thing, never in my four years of running track, I'd never think we would have a 4×4 that would get down to state. So that is really amazing.

"We really push ourselves at practice. We look at the time. We look at our competition. And we just decided that we wanted it this year."

Euclid's Lamonte Hamelin became the first sprinter in the program's rich lineage since Smith in 1990 to qualify for state in open 1 and open 2 in the same season. Hamelin hit for a 10.88 to prevail in open 1 and was second in open 2 in 21.94.

"It feels great," Hamelin said. "Because last year, I came short in the 200 at district. But now, I'm going to state for the 200. It feels great.

"(That open 1) was just practice. Practicing my starts. Arms. Drive arms. And keep straight, my back straight and everything. And finish."

Kenston's Sadie Poudevigne continued her impactful week at Fitch. Two days removed from a title in high jump, clearing 5-6, Poudevigne took third in long jump with a best effort of 17-7.

"It's definitely really special," Poudevigne said. "I want to redeem myself from last year, because last year I went into the state meet completely flustered. It was my first time, so I was stressing. So I think this year will be better.

"(Winning high jump on Day 1) I think was helpful because I had, like, a buffer. I'm already in. If I don't make it here, I will still be proud of myself depending on what I jump. Obviously, I didn't get my PR today, but I'm still really proud of the way I performed."

2024 state track and field qualifiers from News-Herald coverage area schools list

Other News-Herald coverage area state qualifiers out of Day 2 at Fitch were Brush's Antonio Heath (shot put), Madison's Bryce Brock (shot put), Chardon's Caleb Hewitt (100) and Rae Kawalec (3,200), Riverside's Nathan Gaspersic (400), John Young (800) and boys 4x2 and 4x1, Kenston's Kyle McMahan (1,600), Mentor's Jaden Russell (300 hurdles), Euclid's Eve Clark (200) and South's boys 4x4.

?? Here are NH area top-8s from D1 & D3 Day 2s

In D3, glad to see Cardinal get some podiums, including Anna Layman of course & a nice 8th/time drop from Lily Ayer in open 8 with a 2:22.89, as well as Fairport's Michael Hess with a 42.29 in 3s

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024

Coming soon

For more from this meet, as Gaspersic discusses one of the most successful nights the Riverside boys have ever had at the D-I Fitch Regional, check back in the coming days on and in our print edition.

?? South's boys 4x4 discusses their 2nd with a 3:20.55 during D1 Fitch Regional Day 2

Again, that's the Rebels' 1st state berth in any boys relay in school history

(BTW, apologies for the initial confusion on it being a video interview, but we got there ??)

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024

?? Riverside's boys 4x1 (Connor Hackle, Kyndall McCaleb, Jake Lagerstedt & Colin Borris) discuss their 4th with a 42.30 during D1 Fitch Regional Day 2

As noted earlier, that & 4x2 1st Beavers boys relay state berths since 1995

(for clarity sake BTW, I talked to Nathan separately)

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024

?? Chardon's Rae Kawalec discusses her 2nd in 32 with an 11:01.46 during D1 Fitch Regional Day 2 for her 3rd state berth in the event

We both wanted to watch boys 32, so kept it quick

But pleased to see her around 11 en route to Dayton

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024

?? Kenston's Kyle McMahan discusses his 3rd in 16 with a 4:18.75 during D1 Fitch Regional Day 2

Smart race execution, going super wide early & hanging on with all he had last 250 for 1st Bombers boys mile state berth since 2013

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024

?? Riverside's John Young discusses his gutsy 4th in open 8 with a 1:53.08 during D1 Fitch Regional Day 2

As noted earlier, 1st Beavers boys open 8 state berth since 1985

Needed 1 heck of a last-40 kick to grab 4th & got it (cheap plug: got that for NH area video meet highlights)

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024

?? Mentor's Jaden Russell discusses his 4th in 3s with a 38.54 during D1 Fitch Regional Day 2

1st Mentor boys 3s state qualifier since 2003, & good on him to really put that together in a strong 3s year & advance to state for the 1st time

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024

?? Euclid's Eve Clark discusses her 4th in open 2 with a 25.41 for her 4th career open 2 state berth during D1 Fitch Regional Day 2

Like I said, she's meant way too much to our sport as an NH area standard bearer to not get 1 more shot at state, so elated she gutted that deal out

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024

?? Madison's Bryce Brock discusses his 4th in shot with a 53-5 during D1 Fitch Regional Day 2

Blue Streaks boys throwers all-time to make it to state in the same year with shot & discus:

Nolan Landis ✔️

Bryce Brock ✔️

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024

?? Brush's Antonio Heath discusses his 2nd in shot put with a 55-6 1/4 during D1 Fitch Regional Day 2

As noted earlier, 1st Arcs boys shot putter to state since 2008

And no interaction with retention ponds this week ????

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 25, 2024