Lightning wreaks havoc, but so do locals during Division II Austintown-Fitch Regional track and field Day 2

May 25—YOUNGSTOWN — As spectators and teams entered the stadium May 25 during Day 2 of the Division II Austintown-Fitch Regional, it was someone's bright idea to play one of Bruce Springsteen's most timeless classics over the public-address system.

After two lightning delays, forget "Glory Days."

It very easily could have been gory days for anyone who didn't have a certain level of mental fortitude to shake that off and find their path to state.

Case in point: Perry's Armani Chiappone, who didn't even know until after the fact the extent of gymnastics he had navigated amid the delays.

For Chiappone, and for plenty of other News-Herald coverage area student-athletes on Day 2 at Fitch, it was a glory day that did not pass them by.

There are nine regional champions on Day 2 — and they will get their due shortly. But no one had a tale quite like Chiappone.

The Pirates' junior took second in high jump with a personal best of 6 feet, 4 inches.

"It felt really good just to get 6-4 and being able to make it out there and have one more meet," Chiappone said.

In securing the first Perry boys high jump state berth since 2018, how Chiappone got there was something.

As Chiappone attempted 6-2, the announcement of the first lightning delay of the day was made. By typical protocol, if Chiappone had not been in the midst of his approach, he likely would have been stopped and been forced to try 6-2 after the delay.

"I was the last person to jump before there was the suspension," Chiappone said. "I cleared 6-2, and there were four of us that made it. Four of them still had one more attempt. I was just thinking in my head, 'If they don't get it, I automatically make it.' One kid made it, so I knew I had to jump again to beat him and be guaranteed it.

"I thought the thunder or whatever they said it was was they have a cart that sounds like thunder, and I thought it was that. I didn't know that if I didn't start when I did, I didn't know I was not going to have a chance."

Not only did he get 6-2 in timely fashion, but he eventually rode it to 6-4, a testament to mental fortitude.

"It was super humid and hot, so I felt like I was already warm," Chiappone said. "And it just helped having competition, having people to jump with at the higher heights. That pushed me to jump higher."

?? Here are my usual NH area video meet highlights, this time from D2 Fitch Regional Day 2

Eh ... did my best with the delays & rolling schedule

Could've been better, but not bad

(will share my meet story in a moment)

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 26, 2024

The cavalcade of coverage area state qualifiers, especially with the meet deviating away from time schedule after the two lightning delays, never waned.

The Gilmour girls were second as a team with 65 points, getting strong meets from Mariyah Moore, Amy Weybrecht and their always formidable relays.

?? Here are some podiums from D2 Fitch Regional Day 2

I got almost all our NH area regional champs & sprinkled in a couple more

Would've liked to have gotten more, but so be it

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 26, 2024

Moore captured the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.95 seconds and was second in 100 with a 12.19 in two more rounds with fellow coverage area stalwart Dakota Houston of Beachwood and ran legs on the Lancers' runner-up 4×2 (1:41.15) and victorious 4×1 (48.63) that each logged outstanding times en route to Dayton.

"That sets you up really well going against someone who is a very good runner as Dakota is," Moore said. "We're able to run against other good runners. It prepares us for state knowing those girls will be very fast. So going against someone who is already really fast sets us up very well.

"We've been going through a lot with our relays, switching up the orders. But I think we have now, finally, found our set order for who will do the relay. I think it was really great. We work well together."

Weybrecht set the table nicely for state with a pair of confident runners-up in 800 and 1,600 to longtime Woodridge standout Reese Reaman. She went 4:54.61 in mile and 2:10.09 in a tight open 8 final and was encouraged by a 3:57.94 to prevail in 4×4.

With her fourth 1,600 state berth, Weybrecht joins Chardon's Juanita Vetter and South's Katie McGregor as the only girls milers in News-Herald coverage area history to be four-time state qualifiers. She is also the second open 8 four-time state qualifier in Lancers' lore, along with Melanie Frank.

"I think it's really exciting, especially since (Reaman) is such an amazing runner," Weybrecht said. "It's fun to compete with her all the time. I'm lucky she's in the same region as me, because it gives me preparation for state."

Houston, for her part, had every right to be pleased with a long but fruitful afternoon, especially after a rough go of it a year ago at Fitch. The versatile Bison senior took open 1 with a 12.15, was second to Moore in open 2 with a 25.10, third in long jump with a 17-4 in prelims and anchored the third-place 4×1 (49.35).

"I think I did very well for us having two delays and being out a 4 o'clock when we were supposed to be out at like 2:50," Houston said. "My 100, I had a really bad block start. But I carried through and got first in that.

"(That 100 time) is a PR, and I'm really excited. I've been running 12.2 or 12.3 consistently. So I'm really glad that I could get it down a little bit and push through that. I hope with a good block start at state that I can get in the 11s."

If nothing else, Chagrin Falls' Jack Kittle and open 4s haven't been boring the last two weekends. The Perry District champion continued his sterling homestretch form to prevail in open 4 for a regional crown at Fitch in 48.62.

"I saw Glenville pull ahead of me, and I'm like, 'If I don't pass him, I don't know what I'm going to do to myself honestly,'" Kittle said. "I was surprised with my performance through 200, so I just had to keep it up to push me through that final stretch."

Hawken's Leila Metres did what she usually does in open 4 — reign and look smooth while doing so. Metres earned her third state berth in the event with a regional title in 57.19 that featured an outstanding 250-to-300 attack to take control of the race.

"It was really hard coming out of warming up and going back to the bus and coming back," said Metres, who also got out later in open 2 in fourth. "The race started, and I was kind of like, 'All right, now I've got to snap into it.' It was later than I would have liked. But I'll take it. At state, the conditions will be better, so I know I can definitely improve."

Metres joins Hawks' program greats Brook Turner and Rasheda Malcolm as three-time open 4 state qualifiers in school history.

Perry's Addy Trefzger is now 3-for-3 as far as being state-bound in her signature pole vault. She cleared 10-0 to take gold, for the 16th state berth all-time by a Perry girls pole vaulter. She also joins Kelly Chandler and Kristen Olds as three-time state qualifiers from the program and will have company this time to state. Marlee Freeman had a breakout performance, taking second at 9-8.

"It means so much, especially since we had so many delays," said Trefzger, alluding to pole vault being the last field event to conclude. "It just means so much to be able to be out here and perform.

"(The delays) definitely affects you mentally. You have to keep your mindset in the right place."

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

Other News-Herald coverage area state qualifiers on Day 2 at Fitch were Perry's Brayden Richards (110 hurdles and 300 hurdles) and boys 4x1, West Geauga's Kara Deister (100 hurdles), Chagrin Falls' Bella Radomsky (400) and girls 4x4, Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin's Rob Bonchak (400) and boys 4x4, Lake Catholic's Claire Duricky (300 hurdles), Villa Angela-St. Joseph's Asu Pelima (800), Benedictine's Chris Maloney (200), Beachwood's Alexandra Kheyfets (3,200), Hawken's Brielle Collins (3,200) and Gilmour's boys 4x4.

?? Better late than never, here are NH area top 8s from D2 Day 2

Out at Lexington ... I won't go on my rant for the billionth time about that, but it's tempting lol ... great work out of Geneva's Caramia Boland to get out in LJ with a high-17

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 26, 2024

?? NDCL's Rob Bonchak discusses the Lions' 2nd in 4x4 with a 3:24.30 & his wide anchor homestretch kick to close it out, along with a 3rd in open 4 with a 49.01 during D2 Fitch Regional Day 2

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 26, 2024

?? Perry's Marlee Freeman discusses her 2nd in PV with a massive PR of 9-8 during D2 Fitch Regional Day 2

It was so cool & endearing how proud Addy was off frame here, like a proud parent ??

Another example of a gymnast finding success in PV — I'll never get why more don't try it

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 26, 2024

?? Benedictine's Chris Maloney discusses his 3rd in open 2 with a 22.39 during D2 Fitch Regional Day 2

As noted earlier, 1st Bene open 2 state berth since Marquee Montgomery in 2014

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 26, 2024

?? VASJ's Asu Pelima discusses his 3rd in open 8 with a 1:57.74 for Joes' 1st boys open 8 state berth since Barry Pajcic in 1974

Proud of this young man — didn't break NH area leaders to close the season, was seeded 13th coming in & cut *4* seconds from district

❤️ to see it

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 26, 2024

Coming soon

For more from this meet, as Kheyfets discusses her regional title and the legacy of Leah Roter for her and the program in 3,200, check back in the coming days on and in our print edition.

PHOTOS: Division II Austintown-Fitch Regional track and field, May 25, 2024