Wednesday, May 22

    Independence athletes shine at Fisher Invitational

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    Independence’s track teams turned in a strong showing at Cardinal’s Bill Fisher Invitational on Saturday.

    The Blue Devils placed fourth in the girls’ competition while the boys’ team finished fifth.

    Two athletes—Casey Adams and Skylar Leichliter—scored in four events while six others earned points in three different events.

    Adams placed fourth in both the long jump (15-feet) and high jump (4-10), and also took seventh place in the 200-meter dash (29.57). Adams teamed up with Leichliter, Ava Moreal, and Grace Taliaferro to finish second in the 4×100-meter relay with a time of 54.45 seconds.

    In addition to her second-place finish in the 4×100 relay, Leichliter also placed second in the pole vault (7-6), fourth in the 100-meter hurdles (18.45), and sixth in the 300 hurdles (54.95).

    “The first invitational of the season is always pretty nerve-racking,” Leichliter said. “I knew what I had to do and how I had to perform to place in my events. I am happy with how I placed, but definitely want to see some faster times out of myself. The girls’ team also placed, which is a huge accomplishment and I am so proud of them.”

    Leichliter was satisfied with her overall performance but felt her best in the 100-meter hurdles.

    “I have been really focused on form and block starts this season,” she said. “I had a good competition and it was a lot of fun.”

    Kate Coljohn placed eighth in the 400 (1:11.25) and also ran legs in two relays that scored. She teamed up with Madelyn Flynn, Taliaferro, and Avery Vilcheck to finish eighth in the 4×400 with a time of 5:02.92, and joined Gabby McGreevy, Alana Nowak, and Sonia Sajovie in the 4×800, which placed seventh in a time of 11:54.99.

    Nowak also placed in the 1600 (5:54.74) and the 3200 (12:53.52). Moreal earned a seventh-place finish in the pole vault (6-0) and also placed in two relays, and Taliaferro placed in three relays.

    Emmett Stralka helped lead the Blue Devils’ 4×200-meter relay team to a first-place finish in 1:34.41. Michael Andryszczyk, Jack Taliaferro, and Lucas Martinez also competed in that relay. He also ran with the same group in the 4×100 relay, which placed third in 45.21.

    “The 4×200 relay will be strong all year and has state-winning potential,” Stralka said. “We are not going to change what has worked for us in the past, especially with three runners coming back. Kyle (Zygmunt) was out, and Mike Andryszczyk filled in nicely. Keeping the relays low mileage allows the strong runners to score in more events and advance feeling confident and healthy. With the same state-runners, I am eager to see what the 4×100 has in store later in the season.”

    Stralka also claimed second place in the 200-meter dash with a time of 11.44.

    “It’s good to ease into the season, especially coming off of a tri-meet on Thursday,” Stralka said. “Placing at the big invites is always a good confidence-booster. Placing amongst the Division I and Division II teams put Independence as a contender and on the map.”

    Martinez also placed in three events. In addition to the two relays, he placed second in the pole vault (11-0).

    Independence’s other scorers included Vilcheck (4×2, 4×4), Maggie Panichi (4×2), Alex Adams (long jump), Kaitlyn Grill (shot put, discus), Sam Pascarella (300 hurdles, pole vault), Sam Eisenmann (300 hurdles), Deston Boscarelli (long jump), and Morgan Crist (discus).

    Steve Hare
    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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