False start for county meeting | News, Sports, Jobs


Morning Newspaper/Ron Firth In the calm before Tuesday’s storm, long jumpers receive instructions during the Columbiana County meet at Sebo Stadium. Long jumpers include (left to right) Mikaylynn Murphy and Clara Double of Salem, Kodi Kinsey of Beaver Local, Mary Boston of United and Isabella Poppelriter of Wellsville.

SALEM — Coaches and officials will try to sneak into the Columbiana County track meet instead of calling it off for the second time in three years.

The 118th county meeting was suspended after just a few pitches Tuesday when lightning struck over Salem at 4:30 p.m. They will try again today at the Sebo stadium.

The schedule changed after everyone left Tuesday night.

The timing team, which times and scores the meets, said it could schedule the Columbiana County meet and the Eastern Buckeye Conference middle school meet at the same time.

After numerous phone calls and text messages, the EBC junior high school meet was moved from Salem to Canton South.

“(The Timing Crew) would have done it for the kids,” said Salem athletic director Matt Freeman, who has served as the meet’s director since Salem hosted the meet. “They would have found a way out. For both, I think it’s better.

The Columbiana County track and field meet begins today with the field events at 4:30 p.m., followed by the running events at 5 p.m. The first race will be the 3200 meter relay final and the remaining races will be timed finals. Heats will run from the slowest seeds to the fastest seeds. Athletes will have four attempts at the throws and the long jump.

“Canton Sud is able to secure its own officials and have its own timing system,” Freeman said. “We are missing a few officials, but we can make it work.”

All 11 Columbiana County high schools entered in the competition are scheduled to return today.

Freeman said they tried to get the meeting on Tuesday because no other date seemed to be available due to league fixtures, proms and other school activities.

“I think everyone knew” he said.

The schedule was rearranged at the coaches’ meeting at 4:15 p.m. It didn’t matter since the thunder started as the field trials Tuesday.

After 90 minutes of delay and countout due to lightning, the track coaches found themselves in the Salem boys’ locker room.

They didn’t want to cancel the meet again after the 2020 spring season ended due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was the only time the county meet had been canceled since its inception in 1904.

The discus and long jump were underwater and are not scheduled for Tuesday. Referee Jim Fox said they don’t know if the encounter could be over before another storm hits. He saw no reason to prolong the night.

The final decision to suspend the competition came from Freeman, who did so after no coach expressed any objection. He said Salem had lost three track competitions so far this season.

Anyone who attended Tuesday’s county meeting need only show their ticket for today’s action.

“We’re just happy to have everyone back for the competition,” Freeman said.

Dating Notes

¯ The last time county competition was suspended was in 2007 in Salem.

He was suspended on a Tuesday due to lightning after the 400-meter relay finals.

It resumed the following Monday with Salem holding United to sweep the boys’ and girls’ tag team titles. The Salem Boys went on to be Division II runners-up that season.

¯ Southern Local did not attend the county meet, opting to go to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference meet in St. Clairsville. This meeting has also been suspended.

Freeman said Southern did not have to pay the $150 per school registration fee. Entry fees and entry receipts help pay for the timing team, trophies and workers.

¯ Of the 117 county meets, the Salem boys have won 64 times and finished second 26 others.

¯ This is the 43rd time Salem has hosted the boys’ meet.

¯ The EBC junior high school meet will kick off with the field trials at 5 p.m. today in Canton South. Race events will begin at 5:30 p.m.




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