by Steve Batko | Correspondent
It's safe to say that everyone at the Austintown-Fitch Division II regional meet took notice of Dakari Carter.
The Streetsboro freshman walked into Falcon Stadium in his first-ever regional track meet with a state bid on the line and went toe to toe with some of Ohio's most decorated sprinters this season.
Carter came away 2-0 as he has now won the 100-meter and 200-meter championships at both regionals and districts.
Carter's showing helped the Rockets finish fourth with 40 points at the 39-team Fitch regional May 29 and 31.
Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy easily won the Region 5 title with 99 points and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (59) and Mentor Lake Catholic (46) placed second and third, respectively.
Carter advanced to the Division II state meet after running a time of 10.96 seconds in the 100 and 21.97 in the 200.
For Carter, it was a meet that had some stars and he refused to back down.
There was SVSM star Parris Campbell, an Ohio State football recruit, plus Cleveland Benedictine 200 record-holder Marquee Montgomery as well as Jarel Woolridge (SVSM) and CVCA's Brandon Harris.
The top four individuals in each event and the top four relay teams qualified for the Division II state meet, which is scheduled for June 6 and 7 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
"We ran very well and Dakari did a great job against some talented runners," Streetsboro head coach Tom Fesemyer said. "He came in as a virtual unknown. Dakari ran right through the finish in the 200 at the end."
Carter also joined freshman Myron Jones, junior Prince Franklin and senior Daniel Sapp on the second-place 800 relay team (1:29.41), plus ran with junior Victor Glass, senior Parris Burton and Franklin on the fourth-place 400 relay team (43.32).
On the strength of a school record time (1:29.41), the Rockets' 800 relay was edged by SVSM (1:28.55).
"I was very comfortable with our performance in the 800 relay, which had a strong race," Fesemyer said.
Campbell won the preliminary heat over Carter with a time of 10.96 seconds. Carter and Montgomery were right there.
In the finals of the 100, Carter's time easily beat Campbell (11.05), Montgomery (11.12) and Harris (11.188).
In the 200, Campbell was a scratch due to a lingering knee injury. Montgomery was the main threat anyway. Campbell came back and ran the Irish to victory in the 800 relay.
Carter held off Montgomery, who ran a time of 21.99 seconds, in the 200.
The fourth-place in the 400 relay was an event that Fesemyer knew would be a battle.
"We figured it would be tight in the 400 relay with three or more teams and we had to perform to get it," he said.
Burton almost went down in the 400 relay, but gathered himself and got the baton to Franklin, who finished the race.
Franklin was in a photo finish with Mentor Lake Catholic and its anchor runner, Bruce O'Toole. Streetsboro got the nod by .04 over Lake Catholic (43.36).
"Prince ran his heart out and used absolute determination and desire to win that," Fesemyer said.
"Parris Burton did a great job to get his composure back and did what he needed to do," Fesemyer said.
Sapp added a fifth in the 400 (49.5) and Franklin finished sixth in the 200 (22.96). Jefferson's David Chase secured the state berth in the 400 with a time of 49.35, just edging Sapp.
Franklin had a 22.93 in the preliminaries of the 200 and placed 13th in the 100 (11.56).
"I figured Sapp's time was good enough and it was his season best," Fesemyer said. "What is incredible is that only five runners in Ohio have run faster than Sapp (at 49.5). Four of them are in our region."
Senior Nick Fazio reached the finals and just missed scoring as he finished ninth in the shot put with a throw of 46 feet, 6.25 inches.
"Nick had a phenomenal senior season," Fesemyer said.
Glass raced to a 10th place in the 300 hurdles with a time of 42.3 seconds. Sophomore Jonte Florence placed 14th in the 110 hurdles with a time of 17.26.
The 1,600 relay captured 10th (3:34.49) with Glass, Sapp, junior Malik Todd and Jones.