September 2, 2014

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Cross country: Deep Blue Devils runners-up at Strongsville Invite

Jon Huff | The Gazette

STRONGSVILLE — Water fell down and mud splashed up around the campus of Strongsville High. Beneath the gray skies, the ground thundered under the feet of runners at the Strongsville Invitational.

A steady rain made for a sloppy course, but the soggy day could not dampen the Brunswick girls.

Brunswick sophomore Vanessa Pasadyn finished sixth at the Strongsville Invitational. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY BRIAN SMITH)

The Blue Devils finished second for the third time this year. Through five races, the team has finished no lower than sixth. Nordonia took the top spot.

“It’s kind of where we expected,” Brunswick coach Kerry Hunter said. “We were hoping to be top three. We knew there were four very good teams. We’re happy.”

Louiza Wise of Solon and Maddie Britton of Bay set the pace early and Brunswick’s Vanessa Pasadyn followed in the chase pack. Behind Pasadyn, Brunswick blue singlets flashed past, one after another, fighting for places.

When the leaders made the loop again, Wise had space between Britton. All alone, Wise coasted into the home stretch inside Pat Catan Stadium. A long strip of muddied ground sat like a red carpet welcoming her to the first-place finish in 19:06.3. Britton came in 14 seconds later, followed by Nordonia’s Leah Vasarhelyi. Pasadyn finished sixth.

“It was really muddy. I wasn’t expecting it because we were the first race, so I didn’t think it would be torn up,” Pasadyn said. “I enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun, actually. We haven’t had a muddy race all year. I was pretty happy with my time for the conditions. You had to keep a lookout on the hills, make sure you didn’t trip or lose your shoe. But it didn’t really bother me.”

Success for Brunswick came how it has all year — in bunches. Pasadyn, Kristine Camper (14th), Rebecca Craddock (15th), Emily LaPolla (17th) and Katie Pavlick (25th) finished with only 43 seconds separating them.

“We stress it all the time — being packed, being close,” Hunter said. “Vanessa’s obviously our No. 1, but she’s not going to win races for us, so we’ve got to pack. We’ve got to put everyone in there. It was nice having Emily back and Hannah (Meyer) back helping us with that top group.”

The Medina girls finished 13th behind the leadership of Sarah Pack (32nd). Sydney VanLeeuwen (71st) and Tarynn Cullings (72nd) also scored. Wadsworth placed 16th.

In the boys race, something was missing. With runners taking ACTs or making college visits, Medina ran without its usual seven. Only Matt Stump (42nd) had been in varsity races this year, and coach Milt Place used the weekend to give other runners some top-level experience.

“Our goal was to beat at least 10 schools in this meet, and we beat 12,” Place said. “It’s a good learning experience for these guys. It motivates them, and then they do the right things the rest of their career like the offseason training. And they feel like, ‘I’m important.’”

Tim Bizon (20th) held off Strongsville’s Grant O’Bryon going to the line as the Blue Devils took eighth.

Jon Bach (23rd) came in close behind Bizon as Wadsworth finished ninth.

In another race:

Todd Clark Cloverleaf Invite

WESTFIELD TWP. — Front-runners Ashley Murray (6th) and Riley Freeland (9th) gave Cloverleaf a strong presence in the top 10 as the Colts finished eighth. Walsh Jesuit took first powered by the one-two finishes of Melinda Renuart and Molly Onders. Andrew Jarrett (51st) led the Cloverleaf boys to 13th place. Powerhouse Mentor won the meet.

Contact Jon Huff at sports@medina-gazette.com.