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Salem's Maggie Hopple qualifies for states in dramatic fashion, Quakers win first regional title | News, Sports, Jobs

Salem's Maggie Hopple qualifies for states in dramatic fashion, Quakers win first regional title |  News, Sports, Jobs


Staff photo/Preston Byers Salem's Maggie Hopple runs during the 1,600-meter race Saturday in Austintown.

AUSTINTOWN — Before starting the 1,600-meter run Saturday at the Division II regional track meet at Austintown Fitch, Salem junior Maggie Hopple closed her eyes, prayed and then launched into a dramatic run a mile long with another state tournament appearance on the line.

After nearly five minutes and 1,500 yards, Hopple found himself neck and neck with Mila Gresh of Chagrin Falls, Madelyn Begert of Canal Fulton Northwest and Marissa Boone of Woodridge. Seconds behind first and second place, the four girls were all competing for the final two automatic state qualifying spots.

As they sprinted the final 100 yards toward the finish line and a potential state tournament berth, Hopple looked around at the other girls.

"I just thought – I really didn't think so, I'll be honest," Hopple said of the moment. “I was just like, ‘Stay with the girl in front of you,’ and then in the end, whatever I have left, I just have to give.”

Hopple gave it his all. While Boone ultimately edged him out for third place, Hopple, with a personal best time of 5:04.10, managed to hold off Begert and Gresh for the fourth and final automatic state qualifying spot. Moments after crossing the finish line, Hopple lay on the Austintown Fitch turf, exhausted and a little stunned by her accomplishment.

“At first, I almost didn't do the 1600 before my 800 because that's my main event, or what I wanted to get into. But I just said I would try and see how I could do it. I certainly surprised myself. » » Hopple said.

Salem girls track and field coach Bethany Glasser said Hopple was a “great fighter” what his performance over 1600 meters proved.

“At the end of the day, she has such foot speed that she can really outplay so many people,” » Glasser said. “It’s just cool to see her fight throughout the race.”


Almost exactly an hour after regional competition began Saturday, a thunderstorm rolled into Austintown. Just minutes after a midday tornado siren test, rain pelted competitors and spectators as they rushed to their vehicles in the first of two delays due to severe weather.

“It was a bit painful” said Salem thrower Kaylee Carlisle, whose girls discus finals had to wait after the delay.

Competition resumed after a one-hour break and continued for another hour before competition was interrupted again due to weather, forcing everyone to leave Greenwood Chevrolet Austintown Falcon Stadium. The second delay lasted approximately 30 minutes.

Fortunately, the rain held off for the rest of the competition, but at the end of the final event, the boys' 4×400 meter relay, Mother Nature reared its ugly head once again. This time, large droplets of cold rain fell, fittingly drenching those remaining in the stadium.


While the athletes eagerly await their events, their families and friends await them with the same anxiety, sitting on the stands or standing around the fence.

Krista Butcher, a former middle school track and field coach, is one of those parents who chooses to stay close to the fence. Butcher, whose son, South Range senior Logan Butcher, competed Saturday in the 400-meter dash and 4×400-meter relay, tried to explain how she deals with the emotions and anxiety of Logan's races.

"Oh my God, I don't think I'm handling this well," said the butcher. “I’m as nervous as he is. It's almost like I'm in trouble with him.

“I just feel what he feels.” I feel frustrated when he feels frustrated. When he's anxious and nervous, it's me; I feel it too. When he's excited, I'm excited too. They are your children. You feel everything they feel. You never stop.

Logan finished seventh in the 400 with a time of 50.78, while his relay team narrowly missed the United States with a fifth-place time of 3:26.89.


Despite the rain, Salem dominated the day. Whether it was Carlisle in the discus, Rylee Hutton in the long jump or the team's many runners, the Quaker girls proved their prowess Saturday by capturing the first regional title in program history.

The Salem girls finished the day with 73 points, eight more than second-place Gilmour Academy and enough to have already won the championship before Hopple, Hutton, Maggie Hall and Annika Murray qualified for the tournament. State with a third place finish in the 4.×400 meter relay.

“They put their heart and soul into everything this season. » » Glasser said.

Hutton had one of the longest days of any Austintown athlete; the senior athlete started her day with a first place PR of 18-0 in the long jump and finished with a state qualifying performance in the 4×400.

“It means everything” Hutton spoke about the team's title. “All the girls on our team, I know they're going to give 110 percent every time, which is something really special that we have, and it led to great things today.”

Carlisle also did its fair share of earning points for the Quakers, as Kent State commit won the women's discus with a best throw of 136-3, defeating defending regional winner Kennady Grace of Champion.

“It’s so special. It shows how hard we work and how great our program is. It’s really special to be a part of it,” » said Carlisle.

Nearly a dozen members of Salem's girls track and field team will travel to Dayton next week for the OHSAA state meet.

“Honestly, I think this is just the beginning of their success.” » Glasser said. “I think when they get there and they have every single one of them to feed off of, I think they're going to shine really bright in states.”


Seven area athletes qualified for the state competition in individual events Saturday: Hutton (girls long jump and 400 meters), Girard's Mia Malito (girls long jump), Carlisle and Grace (girls discus), Ava Littler of Canfield (100 meter hurdles). , Hopple (girls' 1,600-meter race), South Range's Emmitt Slabach (boys' 1,600-meter race) and Hall (girls' 800-meter race).

Additionally, Salem's 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams, West Branch's 4×200 and Girard's 4×100 meter relay teams qualified for the Dayton meet with top-four finishes Saturday .

The state meet will begin around 3 p.m. Thursday at Welcome Stadium.

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