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Tai Roberts puts NEO Cross Country on Notice

Ben Hercik
With district meets three weeks away, runners took to the line for the Madison Invitational on Oct. 2 with a chance to take on the course they will see then.

Five boys teams from The News-Herald coverage area finished in the top six of the team race, paced by Kenston in second place. At the front for the Bombers was senior Braden Hunt, who finished sixth at 16:45.71.

After an up-and-down season for the boys team, Hunt was thrilled to be
up with the lead pack.

“It really adds to the competitiveness of the races,” said Hunt. “Running with guys that are at the top of the sport pushes me to run my best and work up the ranks. Knowing this course helps a lot, especially with the sharp turns in the woods and the loose rocks.”

NDCL had a strong showing as Anthony Ciecierski led the Lions with his 16:53.90, which helped the Lions place third as a team. Ciecierski had teammates around him during the race, and says that is reflective of what the Lions have been working on this season.

“We’ve been putting in a lot of training. So it’s nice to see it pay off in the meets as well,” said Ciecierski. “There’s the motivation after last season for us to run well and it’s good to see everyone have that motivation.”

It was a tight race for the 10th place spot between Alex Kolhoff of Geneva and Isaac Balistreri of Perry. The Eagles freshman edged the Pirate senior by less than a second, but knows it wasn’t his best race of the season.

“I need to be able to stretch my legs more since they get real tight,” said Kolhoff. “I know I need to lift more as well. I also need to work on that mentality with that push at the end of a race. It wasn’t good at this race, but will be better in the next one.”

In the girls race, Savannah Dennison continued her dominance of the Madison course. In her fourth race at the course, the junior crossed the line first again in 18:02.05, her fastest time of the season.

The performance by Dennison along with three of her teammates that finished in the top 20 saw Mentor finish second in the team race with 65 points, only 10 points behind team champion Stow.

“I think I have a very good advantage on this course,” said Dennison. “I’ve always run fast here, running in the low 18s. Running an 18:02 today is really going to help me at districts and knowing that I could run even better gives me a bit of an advantage over the other runners.”

Hot on the Cardinals’ tail was Kenston as the Bombers took third in the team race, their best result as a team on the season. The charge was led by Emerson Greene, as the sophomore finished third with a 19:03.66, which was her fastest time of the season.

“We knew coming in that the weather was going to be good,” said Greene. “The course is one of our favorites as well, so we came out with the mentality that we were going to have a good day.”

Tai Roberts of Andrews Osborne had put together a solid season, and continued at Madison, as she posted a 19:27.45 and crossed the line in fifth. She was in the top 10 at the first and second miles, she found another gear for the final mile. “I heard my coach telling me to kick it in as I passed the second mile,” said Roberts. “I listened to him and went into my turnover and took the instructions well. I started working out with our coaches in the summer and tried to produce. I don’t pay too much attention to last year since I didn’t run, and not thinking about the past has really been a help.”

Other runners that finished in the top 10 were Mai Ly Marella of Mayfield (eighth), and Paige Masson (ninth) and Cece Paglia (10th) for Kenston.

Andrews Osborne Academy

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Located In Willoughby, OH, Andrews Osborne Academy is a Private Co-ed Day & Boarding College Preparatory School For Grades PK - 12, PG. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.