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For the second straight week, the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy boys track and field team finished just behind backyard rival Woodridge.
All things considered, that's not a bad place to be.
After they finished behind the Bulldogs by one point at districts, the Royals took second with 56 points at the Division II regional meet, which took place May 25 and 27 at Austintown Fitch. Woodridge won the Division II regional title with 66 points.
"I'm so thrilled," said CVCA boys coach Craig Rupe. "Going into districts, I thought we had a chance to place in the top two. Going into regionals, I didn't really think about it. It really speaks to our depth this year."
As Rupe noted, the Royals' backbone was the relays as all four CVCA relays advanced to the Division II state meet. CVCA also advanced two runners in the 1,600-meter run and one in the long jump.
The top four individuals in each event at Austintown advanced to the state meet, which was set for June 2 and 3 in Columbus (results were not available at press time).
Elsewhere at Austintown, while the CVCA girls had several podium finishes, no Royals were able to advance to states.
The CVCA girls finished with 14 team points, tying with Girard and Salem for 19th place. Beachwood won the girls team race at Austintown with 51 points.
The Royal boys got off to a great start on May 25, as CVCA scored two regional championships on day one of regionals.
Sophomore Tre Tucker won the regional title in the long jump for the second straight year, as he finished with a season-best jump of 22-feet-5.25 inches, which he accomplished on his second jump of the competition.
Tucker ended up winning the regional title by more than a foot, as Ravenna Southeast's Jack Rohal was second with a leap of 21-feet-1.
"He actually jumped a couple inches shorter than what he did last year when he won the regional title," Rupe said. "He's such a diligent track athlete. He doesn't cut corners. For a sophomore to be jumping that distance is awesome."
Rupe noted Tucker was determined to compete for the state title, after an off-day at states last year left him settling for seventh place.
In the meet's opening track event, CVCA boys also took gold.
In the boys 3,200-meter relay, CVCA was involved in a dogfight with Woodridge, but junior Sam Bush was able to hold off Woodridge's Max Starvaggi by .21 seconds at the line.
Junior Colin Gaines, senior Matthew D'Abreau, sophomore Jake Malovasic and Bush combined for a winning time of 8:07.45.
"It was an incredible race," Rupe said. "We really respect [Woodridge]. I knew we had a chance to get there if we ran our race plan. They've got a great finisher in Starvaggi. I told Sam Bush, 'He's fast, but if you've got a lead, you can hold him off.' Our other three runners did a great job getting him a lead."
Meanwhile in the girls 3,200-meter relay, CVCA just missed a trip to states as it finished in fifth place. The team of senior Sarah Holzman, senior Lydia Carroscia, junior Rachel Lyda and senior Jaya Wilson finished in a time of 9:41.62.
On May 27, the Royal relays had their mojo working.
The highlight of the day came in the 400-meter meter run, as Tucker, sophomore Jay Patsch, senior Trey Carlisle and senior Christian Smith-King combined to set a new school record of 43.24 seconds. That was good for second place, as Warrensville Heights won the 400 relay in a blazing time of 42.21 seconds.
"Warrensville is on a whole another level this year," Rupe said. "I'm just so thrilled with how our teams came together this season. I was planning on focusing in the 4x200 and 4x400 this year. All their handoffs this season have been great."
Tucker, Carlisle, senior Austin Eck and junior Jonathan Solomon joined forces for the 800-meter relay. The Royals were able to score another second-place finish in a time of 1:29.85. St. Vincent-St. Mary won the relay in 1:27.56.
Tucker qualified for states in three events, but had hoped to make it four as he reached the finals of the 100-meter dash. Tucker finished seventh in 11.21 seconds.
Having reached states in the other three relays, Gaines, Eck, Bush and Carlise hoped to make it 4-for-4 by advancing in the 1,600-meter relay. The quartet did just that, finishing third in a time of 3:25.02.
"I'm extremely proud that we were able to get all four relays of the team," Rupe said. "I'm just really proud. I kind of had a goal to get all four relays down to state in the back of my mind, but I didn't expect to be winning regional championships and breaking school records."
In addition to their relay success, Gaines and Bush also insured they would run in Columbus in the open 1,600-meter race. The two juniors came in together in the 1,600 at Austintown, with Gaines taking third in 4:26.4 and Bush finishing fourth in 4:26.7.
Prior to advancing in the two relays, Eck also competed in the high jump. Eck was able to clear 6 feet, which was good for eighth place.
As for the girls, junior hurdler Amanda Milo reached the podium in both of her events, but was unable to get to states.
Milo finished sixth in the 300-meter hurdles in a time of 45.77 seconds, while taking eighth place in the 100-meter hurdles in 11.21 seconds.
Wilson finished in sixth place in the open 800, finishing in 2:20.44.
Finally, CVCA's girls 800-meter relay team also finished in sixth place. The team of Amber Robinson, Tovia Cox, Imani Long and Jada Wright finished in 1:46.43.