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G-Men boys, girls race toward another track and field title

G-Men boys, girls race toward another track and field title


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Entering the 2023 track and field season, there were plenty of questions for the Garfield G-Men.

“After losing so many great athletes last year, you never truly know how your team will respond the following season,” coach Jim Pfleger said.

That was the thought in February.

By the time the season had ended, the uncertainty had vanished.

The question marks became exclamation points.

The G-Men boys won their second consecutive Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference e championship and ninth league title in school history.

The G-Men girls won just their second league championship in school history.

“Our upperclassmen were able to put in a lot of work this year and came up big for us,” Pfleger said. “Combine their hard work with their leadership, and we had a winning combination.”

Additionally, the G-Men benefitted from a talented freshmen class, along with some first-time recruits that made instant contributions.

“To have both teams win back-to-back MVAC championships is a great accomplishment, and we are hoping to build upon their success in the coming years,” said Jim Pfleger, who has been a coach for every conference championship in school history either as an athlete or coach.

Like any good championship group, though, the work began long before the competition season arrived.

The G-Men flourished throughout the indoor season and it was that commitment that set the foundation for what would become a title-celebrating effort.

“All indoor season, we had at least 40 athletes Monday through Friday,” Pfleger said. “The amount of effort that our athletes gave this year was truly awe inspiring. They ran, threw, jumped and lifted weights all year to make sure they were prepared for the season.”

The strength-in-numbers approach that worked so well throughout the off-season also became the strength of the team throughout the outdoor season.

“The MVAC wins were truly a team effort,” Pfleger said. “It came down to every single point on the girls side and all of our ladies came out to compete.”

Clutch performances were turned in by Hannah Kernig (4th in 100 meters, 2nd in high jump, 1st in long jump), Mandy Cardinal (1st in 400 meters, 3rd in 200 meters), Megan Schaefer (1st in 800 meters) and Rylie Turner (8th in 100 meters, 2nd in 400 meters, 6th in 200 meters). Pfleger, though, was also very quick to point out that there were a multitude of performances that should be spotlighted such as freshman Riley Grace winning the MVAC shot-put title and Kat McMayon placing second in the 1,600 meters.

“Every point mattered and our girls knew what they had to do to bring home the title,” Pfleger said.

The final team standings proved that to be true, with the G-Men edging runner-up Crestview, 159-148.

For the boys, whose team score was a bit more comfortable at 153-85 over second-place Brookfield, league MVP Jesse Grace led the way with championship throws in both the shot put and discus. Derek Blank (1st in 1,600 meters, 2nd in 3,200 meters), Ben Garlich (1st in 3,200 meters; 2nd in 1,600 meters), Deacon Sommer (2nd in long jump, 4th in 100 meters), Keegan Sell (7th in 200 meters, 1st in 100 meters), Christian Gallagher (2nd in 200 meters, 2nd in 300 hurdles) and Aaron Rodhe (5th in 400 meters) all also were key performers for the G-Men.

Remember, the preseason question was: How would they respond?

The answer?

Like champions.

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