With three weeks until the Suburban League meet and the postseason around the corner, Highland’s cross country teams are coming off their best showings.
The boys and girls swept the team titles as well as top places individually Saturday at the J.B. Firestone Invitational at Back River.
The victories come at a great time, and Hornets boys coach Josh Victor said his runners competed with purpose at the meet.
“The kids really get pumped about having a chance at a win, so they ran very well,” Victor said after senior Cole Vandenberg’s first-place showing led Highland.
Nicole Hadler, also a senior, took the top slot in the girls race.
Victor said many of his runners are consistently getting their times lower and lower each week and have been improving on personal bests. According to Victor, 14 Highland boys ran personal-record times at the J.B. Firestone.
As for Vandenberg’s winning effort, Victor was satisfied.
“Cole worked hard over the summer to do well this season,” Victor said. “He has been determined to push himself in races, and it’s really paying off. He just ran the second-best time (at Highland) since 1995.”
Victor said Vandenberg is maturing as a runner and it’s helping him on the course.
Others contributing to Highland’s victory were: Stuart Arbuckle (5th, 17:16), Jason Hadchiti (10th, 18:09), Ryan Wilber (27th, 19:02), Ian Alred (34th, 19:27), Alex Knoer (37th, 19:30) and Maison Dewalt (43rd, 19:38).
Brunswick’s girls had another strong outing last weekend. Ninth-grader Vanessa Pasadyn was again the top finisher, placing second at the Strongsville Mustang Invitational.
Tara Horton joined Pasadyn in the top 20, finishing 19th in 19:57 and leading a trio of Blue Devils that finished between 20th and 30th place. Those runners were Jenna Scott, Hannah Meyer and Katie Pavlick.
Tyler Menear was Brunswick’s fastest boys runner with an 18th-place finish in 16:50. The boys team finished seventh at Strongsville.
While Black River’s boys placed in the bottom half of the team standings at the J.B. Firestone Invitational, Gus Kazek had another strong performance.
The senior was second in 16:59 at the meet. It was his fourth top-10 finish in six meets this season.
Here’s a look at how Kazek has done in 2012: Patriot Athletic Conference Icebreaker (4th place in 17:40), Dan Olien Invitational (10th ,17:12) Avon Lake Early Bird Invitational (2nd, 17:23), Tiffin Carnival (15th, 16:58), Galion Invitational (14th, 16:27), J.B. (2nd, 16:59).
A solid Bee
Competition was fierce at Strongsville, but Medina’s boys placed three runners among the top 30 to finish third as a team.
Pacing the Bees was Ian McKee (21st in 16:53), followed by Dan Schwendler (23rd, 16:54) and Dylan Dombi (26th, 16:57).
For the girls, Maria Scacuzzo was the top Medina runner with a 25th-place finish. Medina’s girls were seventh as a team.
Brunswick’s girls remain the lone boys or girls team ranked among the top 25 in the state, according to the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches.
The latest poll (Sept. 20) has the Blue Devils ranked ninth in Division I. Mason, Centerville and Hilliard Davidson are the top three.
St. Xavier, Hilliard Davidson and St. Ignatius top the boys D-I poll.
The Buckeye boys team received votes in the Division II poll and are tied for 26th with Lakeview.
Springfield Shawnee, CVCA and Granville lead the D-II boys, while St. Vincent-St. Mary, Archbishop Alter and Poland Seminary rank 1-3 in D-II girls.
Division III boys are led by Maplewood, McDonald and Seneca East. Minster, Liberty Center and Coldwater are the top girls teams in Division III.
The next poll will be released Thursday.
Contact Eric Barnes at email@example.com.