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Beaver Local defending state sprint champion Caleb White waits for the Columbiana County Track and Field Championships to start on Tuesday at Salem’s Sebo Stadium. The meet never got started as storms affected the area the entire afternoon. The meet will be held starting at 4:30 p.m. today. (Photo by Ron Firth)

SALEM — Coaches and officials are going to try to squeeze in the Columbiana County Track and Field Meet instead of canceling it for the second time in three years.

The 118th county meet was suspended after only a couple of throws Tuesday when lightning appeared over Salem at 4:30 p.m. They will try again today at Sebo Stadium.

The schedule changed after everyone left Tuesday night.

The Timing Crew, which times and scores the meets, said they could run the Columbiana County Meet and the Eastern Buckeye Conference Middle School Meet at the same time.

After many phone calls and text messages, the EBC junior high meet was moved from Salem to Canton South.

“(The Timing Crew) would have done it for the kids,” said Salem athletic director Matt Freeman, who is the meet manager since Salem is hosting the meet. “They would have figured a way out. For both, I think it is better off.”

The Columbiana County Track and Field Meet will begin today with the field events at 4:30 p.m., followed by the running events at 5 p.m. The first race will be the 3200-meter relay finals and the other races will be timed finals. The heats will be run from slowest to fastest seeds. Athletes will have four attempts in the throws and long jump.

“Canton South is able to secure their own officials and have their own timing system,” Freeman said. “We’re a few officials short, but we can make it work.”

The 11 Columbiana County high schools entered in the meet are expected to return today.

Freeman said they tried to get the meet in Tuesday because no other dates appeared to be available due to league meets, proms and other school activities.

“I think everybody knew,” he said.

The schedule was rearranged during the coaches meeting at 4:15 p.m. It didn’t matter as thunder started as the field events did Tuesday.

After 90 minutes of delays and counting due to lightning, track coaches met in the Salem boys locker room.

They didn’t want to cancel the meet again after the 2020 spring season was wiped out due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was the only time the county meet has been canceled since it began in 1904.

The discus and long jump were underwater and not expected to be held Tuesday. Referee Jim Fox said they didn’t know if the meet could be completed before another storm moved in. He didn’t see any reason to prolong the night.

The final decision to suspend the meet came from Freeman, who did so after no coaches voiced opposition. He said Salem has lost three track meets so far this season.

Anybody who attended the county meet Tuesday only needs to show their ticket for today’s action.

“We’re just happy to get everybody back for the meet,” Freeman said.

Meet notes

¯ The last time the county meet was suspended was in 2007 at Salem.

It was suspended on a Tuesday due lightning after the 400-meter relay finals.

It resumed the following Monday with Salem holding off United to sweep the boys and girls team titles. The Salem boys went on to be Division II state runners-up that season.

¯ Southern Local did not compete at the county meet, opting to go to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Meet in St. Clairsville. That meet was suspended, too.

Freeman said Southern was not charged the $150 entry fee per school. The entry fee plus gate receipts help pay for the Timing Crew, trophies and workers.

¯ Out of the 117 county meets, the Salem boys have won 64 times and finished second 26 others.

¯ This is the 43rd time Salem hosted the boys meet.

¯ The EBC junior high meet will start with the field events at 5 p.m. today at Canton South. The running events will begin at 5:30 p.m.

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