By Ken Silva
Late September and early October are known as the “dog days” of the cross country season.
It is the time of year when the weather gets cold and legs get tired. The meets are not as important as the beginning of the season, when lineups are determined, nor the end of season, when championships are won.
However, it can also be the most crucial point of the year. For teams like Black River, Buckeye, Cloverleaf and Medina’s girls, it is the time to put in the extra work to shave every second possible of their times.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Bucks coach Shirley Van Epp said. “We’ll be training hard until the week leading up to districts.”
For teams like Brunswick, Highland, Medina’s boys, and Wadsworth, it is the time to rest nagging injuries and fatigue in order to enter the postseason at full health.
“We’ve been trying to rest the legs a little,” Grizzles girls coach Jennifer Echols said. “We’ve had some 60-minute leisure runs and are trying to keep loose.”
There are two more races before the season heats up again with conference championships on Oct. 16.
The top of the boys lineup has solidified, as Jared McFadden, Augustine Kazek and Tom Ziebro have ran in the 17s in their last three meets. Coach Adam Laskos was especially pleased with their performance Saturday at the J.B. Firestone Invitational.
“Our first three guys were really pushing the front of the pack,” he said. “It was good to see how aggressive they were.”
• Jenna Periandri had her second consecutive solid race Saturday after returning from a foot injury. The junior ran a 22:53, which is the best time of the season for any Pirate. Periandri was ranked among the top 20 girls in the county last season, and could be a contender to win the Patriot Athletic Conference Meet if she returns to her previous form.
Saturday’s Strongsville Invitational was the Blue Devils’ first experience on the course they will run on for the Northeast Ohio Championship. Austin Olshavsky finished first for the boys and had good things to say about the course.
“I like it a little better than Tiffin,” he said. “The pack was smaller and it seemed to be much faster.”
• Look for an exciting race from the girls Saturday at the Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Darby. They raced there last year and season-best times were ran by Loren McDaniel (19:09), Jenny Timoteo (19:41), Alexis Uber (19:50) and Mary Stankiewicz (21:05).
The Bucks will race at the Vermillion Invitational this Saturday. Van Epp did not put much importance on the meet, but wanted her teams to have a good workout and preview some of the competition they will face at their district meet.
• Top-five boy Brad Shook has recovered from mononucleosis.
• Trisha Widenmeyer ran a personal-record 22:10 at the J.B. Firestone Invitational.
The girls team had its Nos. 2 through 5 runners within 20 seconds of each other at Galion, but the pack fell apart at the Colt Invitational. No. 2 runner Ashley Murray (22:55) finished 1:41 in front of No. 5 Bridget Read (24:36).
• Paul Hissong continues to be the top runner for the boys. The junior ran a 19:10 at the Colt Invitational.
The Hornets had their best week of the season Saturday, winning the boys and girls meet at the J.B. Firestone. The girls performed especially well, receiving PRs from Natalie Zidd (19:50), Riley Stewart (22:24), Meredith Taylor (22:26), Gabrielle Perkins (22:40), McKenna Stewart (22:48) and Paige Jogan (23:43).
• Boys leaders Stewart Arbuckle and Zach Davis have new company at the top of the pack. Saturday was a breakout race for No. 3 runner Cole Vandenberg, who tied his season-best time of 17:48 and was only 10 seconds behind Arbuckle.
The boys are excited for the Midwest Meet of Champions.
The course has a reputation for being one of the fastest in the state, and the competition will be very intense.
“Some of the best teams will be there,” coach Milt Place said. “It’s basically a mini state meet.”
• The girls will travel to Wadsworth for the Grizzles Invitational.
Coaches Echols and Michelle Farr will have a lighter workload in administrating this year’s Grizzly Invitational, as the Grizzles will have an outside company score the races for the first time in the meet’s history.
• Nathan McDevitt’s injured calf is getting healthier by the day, but the junior will sit out Saturday for precautionary reasons. The girls are not as lucky, as Rachel Rummer is out for the season with a broken foot.
Contact Ken Silva at firstname.lastname@example.org.