River's Brittany Towner may be just a freshman, but she runs
like a veteran. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)
girls take home relay title
By Matt Pawlikowski
Published April 4, 2007
the Pirate girls laced up their spikes at the Avon Lake Invitational
last year, Rocky River coach Julie Achladis didn’t expect her team
to perform as well as they did. As a matter of a fact, it was so
surprising, considering she didn’t have a regular lineup, by the
last race of the day, when she found out they were in second place,
she was rounding up kids just to compete in the relay.
“Last year we came in and really didn’t expect that,”
said Achladis. “I put together a lineup and was just looking for
great performances. When the mile relay came around, I had to go
in the stands to find kids to run, and even had to get one who just
finished eating a hot dog. So this year, when I saw what we had
as a team I said we’re going to try to win this.”
Not only did the Pirates win the 11th annual running
of the meet with 113 points to Hoban’s 95, they also won six events.
Leading the way for Rocky River was Ellie Brandt,
who won both the 100 and 300 hurdles, but also was on the winning
mile relay (Jade Braden, Ellie Brandt, Maureen Kessler, Olivia Vitou)
and was part of the fourth place 4x200 relay.
“Her times have been better than they were last year,
so she’s at where we want her to be,” said Achladis. “She had a
great week too, and it’s the first time we had three meets in one
week, so I was proud of how she did.”
If there was a surprise of the meet, not that it was
to her coach or teammates, it came in the performance of Olivia
Vitou. Just a freshman, she won the long jump with a leap of 16-feet-7,
but also was third in both the 100 meter (13.0) and the 200 meter
(27.2) as well as the anchor leg of the winning 4x400 relay (Braden,
Brandt, Kessler, Vitou).
“She hit 16-11 in the first meet against Avon, and
she is the first girl to run a 13 in the 100 since I’ve been here,”
said Achladis. “She hit 16-7 to win today, and I wasn’t going to
let her take her final jump since she had already won it. She was
cold, and didn’t look that loose early on, but after running the
200 she said she felt good, and did great.”
Also having a good day for the Pirates was another
freshman, Brittany Towner. She was the leadoff leg of the winning
3200-meter relay (Towner, Braden, Berg and Kessler) and also took
third in the 800 meters (2:37) along with the 1600-meter run (5:39).
“I wasn’t really expecting to do that,” said Towner.
“I was tired, especially after the 800, but you have to give it
your all. It’s definitely different than middle school track, but
it was a lot of fun. We had a lot of girls that did pretty well
Towner was right. Another Pirate who had a nice day
at Avon Lake Memorial Stadium was Maureen Kessler. The basketball
standout just missed taking first in the 400 (2nd-1:04.2) but also
was part of two winning relays.
Megan Grey also had a nice day for the Pirates, leading
the field crew with her win in the pole vault. A state qualifier
last year, Grey battled winds that went from cross to head, and
took home first in the pole vault with her 8-6.