Fillman pushes through pain to progress

AUSTINTOWN – Even if United junior Riley Fillman is in pain, he just will not give up.

Nursing back pain that just haven’t stopped as the season progressed, Fillman battled his way through the Division II regional meet Thursday at Austintown Fitch High School.

The perseverance paid off and Fillman will move on to the Division II state track meet in Columbus following a second-place finish in the long jump (21-feet-8 1/4).

“I was happy with my performances,” Fillman said. “I’m very excited and looking forward.”

After his second-place finish in the long jump, he moved on the 400-meter relay as he teamed with Alex Phillips, Tyler Powers and Mike Martin to run the third-fastest time (43.47 seconds). The Eagles a spot in Saturday’s regional finals, but it was clear Fillman was in pain.

Fillman explained that his back has given him trouble throughout the season, and as the season winds down, the pain is only getting worse.

“Through the year, it’s been getting worse and worse,” Fillman said. “I’ve been going to therapy. At first we thought it was muscle, but now I don’t know what it is. It hurts to walk, it hurts to run.”

Some could have thrown in the towel and end the day citing injury, but giving up wasn’t on Fillman’s mind, and despite the pain, he raced in the 300 hurdles, which he advanced to state last year and placed ninth in the state meet.

After placing 15th (47.55) Thursday, though, it was clear he needed a rest for the night.

“It was really hard,” Fillman said. “I thought I was going to do fine, then I hit the first hurdle, and I knew I was in trouble. I’ve been going through a lot of training and coaching in the hurdles. I just wished I had gone through a little more season without my back hurting.”

Fillman will get the opportunity this Saturday to earn another return trip to state in the 400 relay, and he’ll be ready regardless of his pain.

“I’m just hoping to go through,” Fillman said. “Hopefully the rest will be good.”

Meanwhile, the Salem boys track team advanced to Saturday’s finals in .

As the top eight teams from Thursday’s prelims qualified for Saturday’s finals, the Quakers picked up a win in the 1600 relay (3:25.50) with Dan Rumsey, Marcus Crittenden, Ethan Bailey and Cameron Turney, and earned fifth in the 800 (1:30.60), and seventh in the 400 (43.93). Caleb Quinn also looks for a state spot as he placed fifth in the 110 hurdles (15.64).

Salem senior Haedan Panezott, who ran in the 400 and 800 relays for the Quakers, feels confident the team can pick up more victories.

“I’m definitely looking forward to this season,” Panezott said. “We’ve got some good runners on the team, and I feel we can get a couple more spots at state.”

Despite qualifying last week, Rumsey did not run in the 400 dash.

Josiah Ross of West Branch will also move on to Saturday’s finals in the 300 hurdles after finishing fourth (41.22)

Meanwhile, Nick Monteleone of East Palestine missed his last chances at state as he placed seventh (20-8 1/4) in the long jump, 11th in the 400 relay (44.50) along with Josh Pickett, Ryan Henderson and Ronnie Knight, and 15th in the 100 dash (11.71).

Day two of the Division II regional track meet starts with field events at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by track events at 12:30 p.m. at Austintown Fitch High School.