Mentor boys 4×100 shakes off rerun, field for laudable title at Mentor Cardinal Relays

Apr. 27—Jaden Russell didn't walk into Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium on April 27 for the Mentor Cardinal Relays expecting to compete in the 4×100-meter relay on his home track.

So it stands to reason that the Mentor junior, one of The News-Herald coverage area's brightest young hurdlers, wasn't expecting what came next, either. Not to mention the step after that.

In all respects, however, they were all steps forward.

?? Here are my usual NH area video meet highlights, this time from Mentor Cardinal Relays

Really glad I got that boys 4×4 anchor clip — I have a soft spot in my ❤️ for VASJ T&F — good people over there; cool to see them excited like that, & rightfully so; 3:30.51 is good work ??

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) April 27, 2024

Russell, as a last-minute substitution, laudably anchored the Cardinals to a 4×1 win, but the path that led he and fellow quartet members Kevin March, Etcher Walland and Daniel Ferrato took there was a wild ride to be sure.

The boys 4×1 was contested in its usual spot between open 8 and distance medley at this meet. However, on the second exchange, interference occurred that rendered the outcome of that race moot. Officials conferred and decided the best course of action was a rare rerun.

Russell watched from his anchor perch on the homestretch turn in disbelief.

"I was a little upset (watching the first 4×1)," Russell said. "I saw their leg come up and was like, 'What the ...' and start jogging toward me. It was pretty funny to see honestly, but yeah, I don't know.

"I was not super pleased (about the rerun) because I had the 300 hurdles. So I was going to be dead, and I was. But we did run a really good leg, a really good 4×1 leg. So looking back, I'm kind of glad we reran it."

So the 4x1s got on the track again, this time with Mentor not only finishing, but prevailing with a brilliant anchor punctuation by Russell to bring it home.

The Cardinals turned in a time of 43.48 seconds ahead of Villa Angela-St. Joseph (43.79). It is the second-fastest time in The News-Herald coverage area in boys 4×1 to date this season, an event in which Mentor wasn't even in the top 10 locally coming into the day.

Some surprises are worth the twists and turns — although this one had more than the usual amount.

"I'm pleased with our time," Russell said. "It was pretty good to see us come back and win the 4×1 on the redo.

"Everything felt good. I got the baton well, and the guy next to me tripped up, so I was already ahead of him. It felt good. It definitely was (a pleasant surprise). We ran the race two times pretty much, so yeah, it was a surprise."

It was part of a runaway win for the Cardinals in the boys team title race with 161 points, well ahead of University (126).

The girls also ran away from the field with 149 points, past St. Joseph Academy (114). The Cardinals got individual titles on the track from Ada Sabo (3,200) and Nora Kraska (1,600) and a 16-8 from Kylie Coleman in long jump.

Rain, by and large, spared the meet despite a bleak forecast — although it took some time for breakout performances with a smaller field to materialize.

The Perry girls 4×8 quartet of Holly Vis, Ally Hopkins, Molly Farrell and Audrey Morgan-Ard turned in a sterling 10:13.53, good for the third-fastest 4×8 performance in the coverage area to date this season behind Mentor (9:58.43) and Chardon (10:06.07).

Vis, the lone returnee from last year's Division II state-qualifying 4×8 for the Pirates, will discuss Perry's performance at Mentor and confident work following quartet turnover due to graduation in a separate story in the coming days.

University freshman Thomas Lodowski edged Mentor's Matthew Penkowski for the boys open 8 crown at the line in one of the more exciting finishes of the day, turning in a 2:01.43 to Penkowski's 2:01.46.

?? University's Thomas Lodowski discusses his breakthrough open 8 win with a late lean in 2:01.43 at the Mentor Cardinal Relays

Freshman earned himself an interview — that was beyond-his-years reel-in sense to see that out

(It was about :10 too long, so had to split into 2 parts)

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) April 27, 2024

Penkowski earlier dominated 3,200 with a 9:36.79, the coverage area's fourth-fastest time this spring.

VASJ impressed with wins in boys 4×8 with an 8:32.52 and in 4×4 in 3:30.51. In the latter, Davion Taylor delivered a strong 200 attack on the anchor and rode it to a last-50 gutsy inside kick to grab the win to the delight of the Vikings' contingent watching from the infield.

Perry's Brayden Richards, in the midst of a frenetic weekend coming off a full slate at Harvey's Dick Beeler Booster Invitational the prior night, had the best individual pole vault with a 15-0 and fended off St. Ignatius' Samurai Chung for gold in 300 hurdles with a 39.61.

?? Here are NH area top 3s from SAT invites

Going to add this to NH area leaders, share my MCR story & call it a weekend here shortly

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) April 27, 2024