Sunday, December 3

    Injury dashes Independence’s title hopes

    - Advertisment -

    After running the fastest time in the 4×200-meter relay preliminary heats at the 2022 OHSAA Division III state track & field championships on Friday, Independence had its sights set on winning the state title on Saturday.

    That promise faded when senior Emmett Stralka scratched the event after injuring his hamstring during the finals of the 100-meter dash.

    With sophomore Matt Wisniewski stepping in for Stralka just moments prior to the starting gun, the Blue Devils settled for fourth place in the event with a time of 1:30.992.

    Seniors Lucas Martinez, Jack Taliaferro, and Kyle Zygmunt closed out their careers as two-time All-Ohioans in the event. That group of three, along with Stralka, placed third in the 4×200 last season.

    “Me, Jack, and Lucas really had to step up after Emmett went down,” Zygmunt said. “Matt did a good job filling in. He literally didn’t know he was running until probably like 40 seconds before the race. I’m just happy he was ready to go and he gave it his all.”

    Zygmunt added a seventh-place finish in the 400-meter dash in 50.08 seconds.

    “It’s probably one of the hardest events in track,” Zygmunt said of the 400. “It’s a sprint, well, people call it a sprint but you can’t sprint that far so you just have to give it your all the last 100 meters.”

    In his two seasons on the track, Zygmunt earned four All-Ohio honors, two last season and two this spring.

    “I’m beyond happy I picked up track last year,” he said. “Coach (Jess) Crooks came up to me after basketball and she was like, ‘I want you to run track. I’ll help you and I can see you’ll be good at it,” so thanks to her for telling me to come out. Without her, I probably wouldn’t be here.”

    Prior to his injury, Stralka was projected to finish among the top three in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes. The injury resulted in a ninth-place finish in the 100 and scratches in the 200 and the 4×200.



    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.

    Most Read

    Independence adds three to Hall of Fame

    Independence on Friday will announce the three most recent additions to its Athletics Hall of Fame.