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    Leichliter, Stepanik pace Blue Devils at Trinity


    Independence’s Skylar Leighliter and Madison Stepanik both set new personal records in placing in multiple events at the Trinity Invitational on Saturday.

    Leichliter won the 100-meter hurdles, finished second in the long jump, and placed fourth in the 300-meter hurdles. She missed out on qualifying in the pole vault.

    “Pole vault did not go as I planned, but overall, I am happy with how myself and the team performed,” Leichliter said. “I went in with a clear mind and knew I could trust my training. I have been putting in a lot of time learning to three-step all my hurdles, so I felt prepared and confident in myself.”

    She won the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 17.60 but set a new PR in the qualifying heat with a time of 17.2.

    Leichliter finished second in the long jump with a leap of 14-feet, 9-inches.

    “I was hoping to jump in the 15s today but fell a little short,” she said. “I am happy with second place, but I still have room to improve.”

    Stepanik recently set a new school record in the shot put and on Saturday, she set her own personal record in the discus with a throw of 109-feet, 2-inches, good for first place.

    “Disc was my best event today,” Stepanik said. “I knew I had some tougher competition and the girls threw farther than what I’m used to competing against so I knew I really had to focus and sling one out there.”

    She finished second in the shot put with a toss of 33-feet, 9 ¼-inches.

    “Overall, I was satisfied with how I did in disc but I felt I could have thrown better when it came to shot,” Stepanik said. “Going into practice, I’m determined to becoming consistent in throwing farther.”

    Stepanik also placed fourth in the high jump when she cleared 4-feet, 10-inches.

    Throwing the shot and discus while also competing in the high jump is an odd combination but Stepanik makes the most of her unique event lineup.

    “At times, it’s overwhelming just because the throws and jumps happen at the same time but I really enjoy doing several field events,” she said. “I don’t know of many who do both but I’m glad I have the opportunity to do them.”

    Emmett Stralka also had a big day for the Blue Devils as he finished second in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes while also placing in the 4×100 and 4×400-meter relays. He ran the 100 in 11.0 seconds flat and the 200 in 22.8.

    Stralka teamed up with Jack Taliaferro, Lucas Martinez, and Josh Belitz to place fourth in the 4×100-meter relay with a time of 46.50. Stralka, Taliaferro, Belitz, and Michael Tommer placed sixth in the 4×4 with a time of 4:28.50.

    Other Blue Devil athletes to score in the meet included Alex Adams (6th, 200), Casey Adams (3rd, long jump; 7th, high jump), Kaitlyn Grill (7th, shot put), Martinez (7th, high jump; 4th, pole vault), Morgan Crist (5th, discus), Maggie Panichi (3rd, pole vault), Taliaferro (7th, 100; 7th, 200), P.J. Oschmann (7th, 1600; 4th, 3200), Jack Korinek (7th, 300 hurdles), and Gabrielle McGreevy (8th, 3200).

    Makenna McGhee, McGreevy, Alana Nowak, and Paige Westerburg teamed up to place fifth in the 4×800-meter relay (11:26.70). Ava Moreal, Rachel Belitz, Alex Adams, and Casey Adams placed fifth in the 4×200-meter relay with a time of 1:58.60.

    Westerburg, Panichi, Aubrey Stepanik, and Belitz placed seventh in the 4×100 (57.20) and Moreal, Westerburg, Belitz, and Kate Coljohn finished seventh in the 4×400 (4:52.40).

    Collin Patton, Kyle McGovern, Anthony Trombetta, and Oschmann earned a fifth-place finish in the 4×800 with a time of 9:27.10, and Belitz, Tommer, Jonathan Perry, and Martinez placed seventh in the 4×200 with a time of 1:43.20.

    Independence’s girls’ team placed fourth overall while the boys were sixth.

    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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