Friday, February 23

    Independence girls win home invitational

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    Independence’s girls’ track team held off West Geauga to win the Independence Invitational on Tuesday.

    The Blue Devils finished with 163 points while the Wolverines were close behind with 157 ½. Kirtland placed third with 96 ½ points.

    It was a bittersweet night for the Blue Devils as the boys’ team finished second, just ½ point behind Cuyahoga Heights, who finished with 131 ½ points.

    “We had a lot of positives, for sure,” said Independence coach Jess Crooks. “The athletes came together and were working together as teammates to help each other perform and to push each other in those relays. We had some awesome performances.”

    Skylar Leichliter, Casey Adams, Kaitlyn Grill, and Jessica Harb all won individual events for the Blue Devils.

    Leichliter claimed wins in the 100-meter hurdles (16.66 seconds) and the pole vault (7-feet) while Adams won the long jump with a new school record of 17-feet, 2-inches. Adams also won the triple jump (32-4). Grill won the shot put (34-feet, ½-inch) and Harb won the discus (110-10). Grill also placed second in the discus (98-1) and Harb was sixth in the shot (26-9 ½).

    “I’m really proud of them,” Crooks said. “Watching Kaitlyn Grill and Jess Harb battle each other competitively and push each other to the point where they make each other better, that was awesome.”

    Leichliter also placed fourth in the long jump (15-4) and third in the 300-meter hurdles (53.42). Adams was third in the high jump (4-8) and also ran a leg in the 4×100-meter relay to help the Blue Devils finish third. Alex Adams, Alberta Moreal, and Grace Taliaferro also competed in that event.

    Moreal also placed fifth in the 300 hurdles (55.78) and seventh in the 100 hurdles (19.89).

    Alex Adams took home second place in the 100-meter dash (13.66), Gabby McGreevy was second in the 800 (2:47.45) and third in the 1600 (6:00.36), and Alana Nowak was second in the 1600 (5:55.44) and the 3200 (12:47.62).

    Anna Beacher placed fourth in the triple jump (24-0), Taliaferro was sixth in the 400 (1:10.0), and Sonia Sajovie placed fifth in the 3200 (16:55.15).

    Nowak and McGreevy teamed up with Kate Cojohn and Madelyn Flynn to finish third in the 4×800 (11:28) and Taliaferro, Coljhon, Flynn, and Sara Luciano placed fifth in the 4×400.

    Nina Funk, Emily Richards, Luciano, and Flynn placed sixth in the 4×200 (2:12.05).

    Emmett Stralka and Kyle Zygmunt both won individual events for the boys’ team.

    Stralka claimed the 100-meter dash title with a time of 11.33 seconds. He also placed second in the 200 (23.45) and ran in two relays that finished among the top three.

    He teamed up with Zygmunt, Lucas Martinez, and Jack Taliaferro to place second in the 4×200 (1:33.09). Stralka, Zygmunt, Taliaferro, and Sam Eisenmann finished third in the 4×400 (3:46.26).

    Zygmunt won the high jump (5-8) and placed second in the 400 (51.88).

    The Blue Devils had a number of second-place finishers including Martinez, who cleared 10-feet at the pole vault, Deston Boscarelli, who leaped 19-feet, 9 ½-inches in the long jump, and Landon Jatsek, who recorded a 32-foot, 8-inch triple jump.

    Taliaferro, Martinez, Boscarelli, and Matt Wisniewski finished as the runners-up in the 4×100-meter relay with a time of 46.17 seconds.

    Other top eight finishers included Brian Angyal (8th, 3200, 13:10.15), Nathan Bernstein (8th, 1600, 5:51.18), Boscarelli (8th, high jump, 5-3), Morgan Crist (7th, 110 hurdles, 20.13; 8th, shot put, 36-10 ½; 7th, discus, 98-7), Eisenmann (6th, 110 hurdles, 19.80; 5th, 300 hurdles, 47.15), James Kitagawa (6th, 3200, 12:15.28), Kyle McGovern (7th, 800, 2:29.95; 6th, 1600, 5:28.54), Charlie Meyer (8th, 400, 1:01.18), Sam Pascarella (3rd, 300 hurdles, 46.46; pole vault, 10-0), Austin Si (5th, triple jump, 29-5), and Taliaferro (4th, 200, 24.39).

    McGovern, Kitagawa, Gabe Harb, and Braeden Lisowski placed fourth in the 4×800-meter relay with a time of 10:05.62.

    Despite being edged out by Cuyahoga Heights in the final event of the evening, Crooks was pleased with the performance of her boys’ team.

    “That’s always motivation,” she said of the narrow margin of victory for rival Cuyahoga Heights. “I was really surprised and happy for them. They came in second and were so close to first place. Cuyahoga Heights knows how to put their competitors in to really challenge you and battle for points and that’s a good thing. We had a lot of good individual performances and watching these young men grow and compete, I’m just proud of them. I think if we can get it all to culminate at the right time, it’s going to be a pretty thing.”



    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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