Reserve boys do it for their coach

NAVARRE – The Western Reserve boys felt a little push on the way to qualifying for the state track meet Friday.

“We just wanted to do it for Coach Hice,” Western Reserve junior Joe Falasca said.

Western Reserve assistant coach Rod Hice died Monday of an apparent heart attack.

“He’s been my hurdle coach and has been helping out on the relays,” Falasca said. “He’s been there since my freshman year after coming from Mineral Ridge.”

Seniors Josh Vuletich and Marc Harper and juniors Brian Sunderman and Falasca ran on the second-place 400-meter relay team, while Falasca finished third in the 110-meter hurdles at the Navarre Division III regional Friday.

The top four in each event advance to the state meet in Columbus next Friday and Saturday.

It was only fitting that Mineral Ridge and Western Reserve placed one-two in the relay. Hice was the head coach when he led the Mineral Ridge girls to their only Inter-Tri County upper tier track title in 2008.

Mineral Ridge and Western Reserve both broke their own school records with times of 44.03 and 44.09 seconds, respectively.

“We’ve beat them a couple of times,” Falasca said.

South Range was third in 44.36 seconds, giving the ITCL three teams in the same event at state.

“I like the 4×100 because it’s a team,” Falasca said.

His time of 15.30 seconds in the 110 hurdles was third. Defending state champion Chad Zallow of Warren JFK won in 14.37. The field will get another chance to try to catch Zallow.

“That’s the goal,” Falasca smiled. “He’s one of the best in the state, if not the best. We’re going to try to make it to the finals.”

The Blue Devils were close in the relay last year, just missing a state berth by finishing sixth at regionals. They have been dropping their time this season.

“Honestly, I don’t know why,” Falasca said. “Coach Hice had an impact on us. We wanted to come out and do it for him. He’s looking down on us.”