Saturday, May 25

    Independence repeats as CVC Valley Division champs

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    Independence repeated as the Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division champions by sweeping the league championships at Lutheran West on Thursday.

    The girls’ cruised to its second straight conference title with 163 points, well ahead of second-place Lutheran West, who finished with 99 points, and after finishing second to Cuyahoga Heights in two straight regular-season meets, the Blue Devils flipped the script and won the league title with 143 ½ points. Cuyahoga Heights finished second with 127 ½.

    “It was super exciting,” said Independence coach Jess Crooks of beating out rival Cuyahoga Heights for the boys’ title. “The key was our finishes, obviously, our first-place finishes, but all those other finishes helped us rack up the points. They knew they had to go out and compete and give it your all because every place matters.”

    Emmett Stralka led the boys’ team by earning the MVP award for the running events.

    Stralka won the 100 and 200-meter dashes and also led the Blue Devils to wins in the 4×100 and 4×200-meter relays.

    He set a new school record with his 10.94-second time in the 100-meter dash. He finished the 200 in 22.47 seconds.

    Stralka teamed up with Lucas Martinez, Jack Taliaferro, and Deston Boscarelli to set a new meet record by winning the 4×100 in 44.41 seconds. He ran with Taliaferro, Martinez, and Michael Andryszczyk to win the 4×200 in 1:31.73.

    Alana Nowak won the girls’ running MVP award after winning the 1600-meter run in 5:43.71 and the 3200 in 12:51.63.

    She also teamed up with Gabby McGreevy, Kate Coljohn, and Madelyn Flynn to win the 4×800 in 11:16.36.

    “She is really strong and she has come on out of nowhere from last year,” Crooks said of Nowak. “I’m so proud of how she has competed. She has that attack mindset now. She gets out there and attacks. She hasn’t had quite as many opportunities to attack; she’s usually being chased, so I’m excited for her heading into districts and regionals to see how her times come down because of her mentality and how she’s running.”

    Independence’s other conference champions included Kaitlyn Grill (shot put, 35-4), Skylar Leichliter (pole vault, 7-9), Deston Boscarelli (long jump, 20-2 ½), Casey Adams (long jump, 16-10 ½), Jessica Harb (discus, 105-10), and Kyle Zygmunt (400, 50.77).

    The boys’ 4×400-meter relay team of Taliaferro, Martinez, Andryszczyk, and Zygmunt also won the conference title with a time of 3:35.23.

    Other top five finishers included Alex Adams (2nd, 100, 13.01), Casey Adams (2nd, 200, 27.29; 3rd, high jump, 4-8), Andryszczyk (5th, 400, 54.54), Coljohn (5th, 800, 2:56.40), Morgan Crist (2nd, discus, 112-5), Sam Eisenmann (4th, 300 hurdles, 45.07), Grill (4th, discus, 88-4), Harb (5th, shot put, 28-2), James Kitagawa (4th, 3200, 11:55.20), Jack Korinek (2nd, 300 hurdles, 44.25; 3rd, 110 hurdles, 17.43), Leichliter (2nd, 100 hurdles, 16.40; 2nd, 300 hurdles, 49.66), 5th, long jump, 15-8 ½), Martinez (2nd, pole vault, 11-0), Kyle McGovern (5th, 1600, 5:12.95), McGreevy (2nd, 800, 2:43.70; 3rd, 1600, 5:59.59), Maggie Panichi (3rd, pole vault, 7-0), Sam Pascarella (4th, pole vault, 10-0), Emily Richards (5th, 100 hurdles, 20.01), Jack Taliaferro (4th, 200, 23.34), Avery Vilcheck (4th, 400, 1:09.41), and Zygmunt (2nd, 100, 11.18; 5th, high jump, 5-8).

    The Blue Devils also placed among the top five in four relays.

    Grace Taliaferro, Alberta Moreal, Alex Adams, and Coljohn finished fifth in the 4×400 with a time of 4:46.91. Taliaferro, Moreal, Alex Adams, and Casey Adams were fifth in the 4×100 (53.98), and Taliaferro, Moreal, Alex Adams, and Vilcheck placed fourth in the 4×200 (2:03.32).

    McGovern, Gabe Harb, Braeden Lisowski, and Kitagawa placed fourth in the 4×800 (9:28.34).



    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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