Eastwood girls track trio voted captains for a reason

J. Patrick Eaken

Not only was the Eastwood girls track team denied its chance to win a 20th straight league championship; one of their top athletes was denied an opportunity to participate in a national showcase.
Senior Ashley Hodulik, who is getting recruited for the indoor weight throw and hammer by college programs, was supposed to compete at the New Balance Nationals, an indoor meet in New York City held in March, but it was canceled two days before the event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hodulik, who placed second in the weight throw during the indoor state meet earlier in March, is now considering her college options.
It might help that Hodulik’s private throwing coach, Justin Carvalho, is an assistant track coach at the University of Findlay, which is where she trains. She also has improvised, finding a way to train at home.
“I got my hands on some different implements, got some implements off of Amazon so I could throw at home, and I got into weightlifting,” Hodulik said. “Eventually my junior year I started working with a private coach outside of Eastwood during the offseason.”
Whether she ends up throwing at NCAA Division II Findlay remains to be seen, but she says she will definitely continue her career collegiately. Her classmate, sprinter and hurdler Shelby Getz, is also considering participating in college. Getz, who will attend Bowling Green State University, says running for the Falcons’ track team isn’t off the table yet.
“I think they both have looked at some schools and went on some recruiting visits,” Eastwood coach Nikki Sabo said. “Shelby as of right now is planning on going to Bowling Green and pursue nursing and at this point in time is not going to be running track for them. She has looked into their club team that they have. She wants to see where she is academically and that type of thing. She really hasn’t reached out to the coaches about walking on or that type of thing.”
Getz, who was a regional finalist in the 100 and 300 hurdles last year, set the Northern Buckeye Conference record in the 300. She competed at the indoor state meet this year in the 60-meter hurdles. There was another record that she wanted badly but couldn’t get.
“My biggest goal was to beat the 300-hurdle (school) record because I’m about a second off of that and it hasn’t been broken in something like 20 years. I was really looking forward to that,” Getz said.
        Another athlete who lost her senior season is sprinter Jamie Schmeltz, but Sabo says she would not have been able to compete anyways because of an injury. Schmeltz has committed to play basketball at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio.
        Schmeltz, a second team All-Ohioan, was this year’s unanimous choice for Alan Miller Jewelers Player for the Year. Schmeltz finished her career with 1,572 career points, an Eastwood girls basketball scoring record, and a school-record 131 three-point field goals.
        “She was our top returning sprinter, however, had an ACL surgery and wasn't going to be able to compete this season,” Sabo said. “She was a regional finalist in the 100 and placed fifth, just missing a trip to the state meet last year.”
Hodulik, Getz and Schmeltz were voted the team captains this year. For Hodulik and Getz, participating for the league perennial champion Eastwood track team was an honor.
“It was definitely a game-changer for me, going into the Eastwood track and field program,” Hodulik said. “I joined the team when I was a sophomore. I was looking for something different and they showed me a positive environment and somewhere where you can grow and just be a part of something bigger than yourself.
“They just really showed me how to be a good person on and off the field, so to speak. They really showed me how to celebrate personal successes and, also, team successes and stuff like that. I learned a lot of valuable lessons from them and just to be able to compete under Eastwood’s name, it meant a lot to me.”
Getz added, “It’s a really great program, the best around, so to just be a part of that team and follow in the footsteps of all the other really good athletes that came before me. It was an honor.”
Her sophomore and junior year, Hodulik was mentored by Eastwood throwing coach Lucas Friess. This year Jim Kieper, the Eastwood High School principal, and Whitney Hartman, who holds Eastwood’s discus and shot put records, were to be her throwing coaches.
Hodulik and Getz both say they wouldn’t have gotten to where they are at if it weren’t for Nikki Sabo.
“She’s been amazing. She’s a really good coach and nice person,” Getz said. “I do soccer as well and she always came to watch us then. It’s nice that she cares about us during the season and then all our other accomplishments, too.”
Hodulik added, “I’m sorry the seniors did not get a season. I know we were all hoping for a big one. I know Eastwood track and field is going to be a big thing for years to come, so I’m excited to see that happen.”
Sabo admits that winning that 20th straight league title, dating back to Eastwood’s days in the Suburban Lakes League, might not have been easy. The boys team would also have been going for it’s 20th consecutive title.
“I will say, this year was going to be a dog fight. The Otsego boys, the Woodmore girls, it was probably going to come down to the 4x400,” Sabo said.
“It definitely got you excited for this season because they were gelling together so well. The freshmen coming in had a lot of positive energy. The seniors, juniors and sophomores that were there were so welcoming to them. You could just tell it was going to be a good season and then it just kind of abruptly ended. It’s fun to have the indoor season for that. That kind of gave them some competition that they didn’t get this spring, so at least got a little taste of what high school track is like.”

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