Relay Success for Hilltoppers Track at Fitch Regional
June 3, 2021 by Jason Baxter

Chardon boys and girls track will have four relay teams competing in the OHSAA state track meet starting the afternoon of June 4 at Hilliard Darby High School.

Chardon boys and girls track will have four relay teams competing in the OHSAA state track meet starting the afternoon of June 4 at Hilliard Darby High School.

The regional meet at Austintown Fitch was capped off by 4×400 relay qualifications by both boys and girls teams. The girls were up first, and they finished steps behind area juggernaut Mentor in a time of 4:01.57 with a team of Andrea Mann, Brianna Nieset, Cantrelle William and Jenna Oriani.

The boys finished second with a time of 3:25.86 and a team of Caden Dawson, Karl Dietz, Anthony Zampino and Jack Sweet. The Hilltoppers were just behind Aurora (3:25.67), but outstretched Nordonia (3:25.98).

“We’re excited,” said Zampino, a senior. “We have been thinking about this for a while no. Finally came out here and got this opportunity. I think we did exactly what we thought we would.”

Of his team’s strong third leg, he added, “Little bumping at the finish line, which is normal, championship racing. When I got the baton, I just didn’t want to let my teammates down.”

One of the staples in the Chardon Track arsenal has been strong 4×800 relay teams, and this

year has been no different. Both boys and girls teams qualified. The boys team of Zampino, Sweet, Dietz and Dawson finished in a time of 7:58.03.

Dietz, a freshman, qualified in the 400, finishing in third place with a time of 49.50.

After the race, he said he was “super excited.”

“I have been thinking about this since the beginning of the year, visualizing it,” he said. “Didn’t think it would happen freshman year. I’m super happy I did. I’m really excited to compete.”

The girls 4×800 relay team will make a third straight appearance at the state meet. The 2021 version of freshmen Rae Kawalec and Catherine Dawson, along with Williams and Mann, finished in third place at regionals with a time of 9:21.28 to clinch a trip to Hilliard.

The Hilltoppers had individual success, too, as Oriani would qualify in the 100 (third place of 12.44), 200 (third place of 26.03) and 400 (third place of 57.86), meaning she qualified in all four events she competed in — not an easy task by any means.

Oriani qualified for the 4×800 relay and 400. She finished third in the 400 back in 2019.

When asked about the tough competition she saw at regionals from the likes of Paige Floriea of Mentor and Kiara Granger of Bedford, Oriani said: “I love racing against people who are a little bit faster than me because it helps me get better.”

Nieset finished second in the 800 final behind Hathaway Brown junior Morgan Monesmith. Nieset, like Oriani, will not be a stranger to the state meet; during her sophomore season, she qualified as part of the 4×800 team and in the 800.

“I’m excited,” Nieset said about returning to Columbus. “Coming in, I knew the other girl from my district (Monesmith) was here. I knew there was going to be good competition again. I was confident in myself (and) I was super stoked to have come out and done, especially in this weather today.”

Chardon would go on to finish as regional runner-up to Mentor with 52 points. This was the sixth time since 2012 the Hilltoppers have finished in the top 10; their second place finish and 52 points were best during that stretch.

West Geauga junior Shannon Swinerton was the lone state qualifier for the Wolverines, winning the 300 Hurdles. Swinerton won a tightly contested race, winning at the finish line over Morgan Blackford of Solon in a time of 46.34, nearly a second faster than her preliminary time from qualifying.

“I feel good,” Swinerton said. “With the weather, I had to mentally prepare for the rain, and it’s colder than it was Wednesday. I’m just glad I can get sweatpants back on and warm up.”

On making the state meet, she added, “I’m excited. It’s the first time making finals at regionals and first going down to the state meet. I’m thrilled.”

Kenston saw standout sophomore Lucas Simmons qualify for the state meet with a third place finish (21-1). He will be joined by senior Jack Turk, who finished just outside of original qualification, but his time of 1:56.91 earned him one of two at-large qualification spots for the state meet.

The Bombers girls 4×800 relay team qualified for the state meet with a fourth-place finish (9:23.32) and a team of Paige Masson, Jocelyn Van Skyhock, Cece Paglia and Emerson Greene.

The 2021 OHSAA State Track Meet will take place June 4-5 at Hilliard Darby (Division I), Pickerington North (Division II) and Westerville North (Division III).