June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Girls cross country: Blue Devils take sixth place

Jon Huff | The Gazette

HEBRON — The Brunswick girls cross country coaches watched the last runners cross the line at National Trail Raceway. Their faces and words gave away their disappointment. The Division I state meet didn’t end how they expected.

Then they saw the official results and ran out of the grandstand straight for the team campsite. The looks of disappointment were replaced by smiles. Coach Kerry Hunter held up six fingers.

“We didn’t think we ran that well,” Hunter said. “We all thought it was not a good day. Then you see results and you’re pretty excited.

“You start thinking about the Cincinnati region, all those girls are ahead of us. You’ve got 42 individuals, most of them ahead of our big pack. You’re talking 60 kids ahead of our (Nos.) 2, 3, 4, 5 girls. Then you put it into perspective and can see where ended up.”

The sixth-place showing marks Brunswick’s fourth top-10 finish in five years.

Vanessa Pasadyn led the team, settling into a large lead pack soon after the start. Rebecca Craddock, Kristine Camper and Emily LaPolla positioned together 10 seconds behind. Pasadyn moved up and the gap between her and Craddock grew.

Pasadyn crossed the line just behind Solon’s Geneva Sandridge for 19th and All-Ohio honors. Then the Brunswick coaches waited for their second runner. In the 35-second gap between Pasadyn and Craddock, 45 runners scored for other teams.

Craddock (65th), Camper (76th) and LaPolla (84th) kept their pack, with 15 seconds between Craddock and LaPolla. Hannah Meyer placed 101st and wrapped the Blue Devils’ score.

“We came in saying sixth is the best we could do, and we did it,” Hunter said. “I told the girls, ‘If we’re sixth, that’s like a state championship.’ It was huge. I couldn’t wait to run and find them so I could tell them.”

With a team both young and experienced, the future looks bright for Brunswick. Six of the seven runners will return next year.

Youth could be seen throughout the races. Another upcoming Medina County runner toed the line for the boys Division III race. Black River’s Tanner Hawley finished 39th in his first state meet.

“It was awesome,” Hawley said. “You’re out there with the best of the best. (It’s) definitely a good feeling. It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot and your hard work is going somewhere.”

The sophomore showed no intimidation. Hawley ran in the first chase pack at the mile mark. Some runners passed by, but Hawley kept his focus and ran his race. He finished strong, closing on Fort Frye’s Matthew Cheeseman in the last straight, but ran out of room.

“Everybody’s telling me the same thing. It’s just a stepping stone,” Hawley said. “Hopefully next year I can be top 16 or top 25. Definitely a lot lower than this year. My goal was make it to state, so I’m just glad I did that.”

Similar to Hawley was Buckeye’s Colin Theis. Both are from the county’s smallest schools and sophomores at their first state meet.

“It’s crazy,” Theis said. “There are so many teams that come and teammates cheering for them. It’s a great feeling knowing it’s all for you.”

Theis ran 10 seconds behind the leaders at the mile mark alongside Medina’s Dylan Dombi. As the runners disappeared toward the 2-mile mark, Theis and Dombi ran around 50th. Theis picked up his pace and moved up the field.

With a kick in the stretch, Theis gained more spots. He crossed the line in 39th.

“It was fast,” Theis said. “The mile was around 4:50, which is what it was at regional, so I stayed with that again. But this time I felt really good instead of crappy, like I did at regional, and I just continued to pace up with everybody else.

“I know I’ll possibly be returning, so I have a chance at placing top 25 and getting All-Ohioan. It was a fantastic season. I’m really happy with it.”

As two young careers hit new highs, another high school career ended. Dombi placed 57th in his second state meet. With a final kick, Dombi held off Louisville’s Nick Chaplik to finish in 16:31.7.

“I hit a wall about a mile-and-a-half in,” Dombi said. “I felt good through a mile and a half. It wasn’t how I wanted to finish it.

“It was a fun experience, but not the same without having a team competing. It still was a good experience I got to enjoy.”

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

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