June 27, 2016

Partly sunny

Black River, Buckeye win PAC

LaGRANGE — Victory was especially sweet for the Black River’s boys cross country team as it won its first conference title in 20 years at Saturday’s third annual Patriot Athletic Conference meet at the Lorain County Equestrian Center.

Black River placed five runners in the top 10 as it defeated two-time defending champ Buckeye, 23-40.

The Bucks defeated the Pirates in a highly controversial meet last year. In 2006, Buckeye beat Black River via the sixth-runner tiebreaker after the two teams tied at 33.

The controversy involved the Pirates’ No. 7 man, Taehyung Kim. The South Korea exchange student became slightly disoriented at the finish line and was allegedly passed by several more runners in the finish chute. As a result, Buckeye won the tiebreaker 15 to 16.

This time around, Black River left nothing to chance.

Seniors Robert Altenburger (17:45) and Brian Bush (17:52) finished 1-2 overall. Senior Dave Kindall (fourth, 18:20), senior Jim Randolph (sixth, 18:34) and freshman Matt Ross (10th, 18:47) also finished in the top 10.

“We had a score to settle,” Altenburger said. “It made us want to win it more. It gave us a little more motivation because we knew we could do it.

“Today was special. I guess this proves we’re a force to be reckoned with.”

Black River last won a league title at the 1987 Firelands Conference meet.

“It would have been nice for our two seniors from last year (Chris Hudak and Scott Krieder) if they could have been around for this,” Black River coach Eric Yetter said. “They were a big part in terms of planting the seed for whole thing. It carried through into this year. We finished what that group started.”

The significance didn’t slip past Yetter.

“We talked about all week how we hadn’t done this as a school since 1987,” said Yetter. “I didn’t have to say much to get them motivated for this. The task primarily was to stay focused, don’t take anything for granted. They saw the writing on the wall.”

Behind junior Mandy Culley of Westlake, the Lutheran West girls finished second to defending champ Buckeye. The Bucks won their third straight title over the Longhorns, 25-65.

Culley was fourth overall in 21:30 as she finished behind Buckeye’s Deven Karr (20:24), Jessie Yagel (21:15) and Leighann Giriunas (21:17). Last year, Culley was only 15th at conference in 22:39.

The Buckeye girls finished the day on top of the world as freshman Karr and Yagel, sophomore Giriunas and senior Julie Kotesovec earned First Team All-Conference honors.

Bucks coach Shirley Van Epp was elated with how her team performed.

“It was awesome; I was so pleased. I said in the beginning of the year that my freshman would play a huge role in our team’s performance this year,” Van Epp said. “It was a strong win. It really was a good finish.”