AUSTINTOWN — Jennifer Foster has had a terrific track career at Cloverleaf, but she had some unfinished business at the Austintown Fitch Division I Regional.
Consider the matter now closed.
On Wednesday afternoon, Foster broke the school records in the girls high jump (5 feet, 9 inches) and 100-meter hurdles (14.82), vanquishing the ghosts that have haunted her since the 2010 meet at the same site.
The senior qualified for next week’s state meet in the high jump with a second-place finish, and will compete in the Friday event finals in the 100 hurdles and pole vault.
“I try and take things one meet at a time, but this whole day couldn’t have gone any better for me,” a smiling Foster said. “I’m really grateful for all of the help I’ve gotten from my coaches, and I’m really excited to be going to state in the high jump. I can’t wait to come back here Friday.”
One year ago on the first day of the Austintown Regional, she suffered the cruelest fate possible, losing a four-girl tiebreaker for three berths to the state meet.
Though Foster cleared 5-6 to match Aurora’s Jessica Baker, Twinsburg’s Brittani Reid and Canfield’s Leanna Hartsough for second place, the Ashland University-bound athlete didn’t move on because she had more total misses.
She left nothing to chance this time, locking up a state spot when she made 5-5, then continuing on to clear 5-9 on her third and final try. Defending state runner-up Maddie Morrow of North Canton Hoover went 5-10 to finish first.
“Last year was pretty much the worst thing that could happen to me, finishing fifth and not making it to state,” Foster admitted. “Because of that, this feels even better.”
She added with a chuckle, “I was so focused on the high jump today, I didn’t even realize I set the record in the hurdles. That’s the icing on the cake.”
Wadsworth senior Hannah Gospodinsky also punched her ticket to state by finishing first in the girls shot put (43-5¼). The University of South Florida signee’s winning throw came on her last attempt of the 81-degree day, surpassing Brecksville’s Beckie Famurewa (42-3½) and Fitch’s Ali Tolich (42-0½).
“I put a lot of pressure on myself today because I definitely wanted to win and make it back to state in the shot,” said Gospodinsky, who finished third at the 2010 state meet behind champion Tolich and Famurewa.
“We’ve been waiting all year for nice weather like this, so it was a lot of fun throwing, even though it was a little warm. I feel like I’m in a really good spot going down to Columbus next week.”
It was also a great day for Cloverleaf junior Kelani Nuckols, who accounted for the Colts’ third school-record performance. She finished second in her heat of the 300 hurdles in 46.10 (surpassing Jenny Rupp’s previous mark of 46.6) to earn the fourth seed in the Friday finals.
“A couple of days ago, I never thought this would have been possible, but today I did,” Nuckols said. “I felt so good out there and am so happy to get this far.”
Also advancing to the finals was Cloverleaf’s 4×200 of Nuckols, Janelle Shaffer, Jenna Elswick and Taylor Detwiler, who snared the sixth seed with a time of 1:45.77.
“I’ve been coaching at Cloverleaf for nine years, six as the head coach, and this was by far the best day we’ve had at regionals,” Colts coach Frank Peters said. “I’m so happy for the kids and proud of them.”
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.