By Ryan Kaczmarski
The North Olmsted girls cross country team finished in third-place at the Southwestern Conference championships held Saturday at Lorain County Community College behind first-place Brecksville and second-place Amherst.
The Eagles were led by sophomore Emily Johr, who finished fifth-overall, with her time of 20:24.7.
“I think, as a team, they did pretty well,” North Olmsted head coach Aubrey Alexander said. “They all moved up a lot throughout the race, which was good. We had Emily in the top five, so that really helped.”
“I love running,” Johr said. “It’s a really good team sport, and we’re all close.”
“We’ve been working all year and thinking about what we could do to get our best race here, so every week just has been a big improvement,” Alexander said. “We got through this one, then we go to districts.”
The other Eagles who scored in the race were Hailey Reines (13th, 20:58.7), Becky Szabo (19th, 21:17.4), Rebecca Shroka (23rd, 21:34.9), Sabreen Alameddin (25th, 21:46.7) and Grace Cleary (30th, 22:15.0).
The Westlake girls team finished in fifth place, behind fourth-place Avon Lake, and had two runners finish in the top 20.
Leading the way for the Demons was Grace Jenkins (12th, 20:56.4), followed by Robyn Hageman (20th, 21:17.7), Morgan Hansen (24th, 21:39.3), Madeline Lee (29th, 22:14.7), Rachel Collins (33rd, 22:31.2) and Michele Appel (43rd, 23:36.9).
“Senior captain Nora Lee ran the race of her career and crushed her previous personal records, not only for this course, but also for her career,” Demons girls head coach Travis Haselswerdt said. “I can’t say enough about this young lady and how well she represents our school and our sport. It was fantastic to see her put in such a great performance as her tenure with us winds down.”
Olmsted Falls had two girls finish in the top 10, but the Bulldogs finished sixth overall behind performances by Jaime Fossen (eighth, 20:41.0), Brittany Carson (ninth, 20:43.2), Kate Ferster (28th, 22:09.3), Reilly Gomez (37th, 22:51.4), Megan Hoadley (40th, 23:27.4) and Madeline Matia (42nd, 23:30.4).
“We get this feeling that you push yourself so hard,” Fossen said of the race. “The more you push, the farther you go.”
Westshore high schools did not fare as well on the boys side, with North Olmsted finishing sixth, behind Avon Lake, Brecksville, Amherst, Midpark and Berea.
Eagles senior Zack Kozik took fourth overall, with his time of 17:06.2. He was followed by Brad Tomcho (13th, 17:41.4), Alex Jarufe (20th, 18:03.0), Cullum Andrews (29th, 18:24.6), Brett Purgason (46th, 19:02.6), Nick Adipietro (49th, 19:09.0) and Noel Cordero (50th, 19:19.5).
Neither Westlake nor Olmsted Falls had runners finish in the top 30 on Saturday.
Leading the way for the Demons was Jacob Kraft (32nd, 18:33.8), followed by Rami Kalash (38th, 18:48.4), Nick Irwin (40th, 18:55.0), Jon Simon (44th, 19:01.1) and Evan Milovich (54th, 19:45.7).
“We have a really tight pack,” Demons boys head coach Kyle Romansky said. “They usually finish pretty close to each other.
“Our times have dropped all season long,” he added. “They all seem to be running well.”
Bringing up the rear was Olmsted Falls, led by Ed Gorski (33rd, 18:34.8), followed by Erik Pfisterer (36th, 18:45.7), Dominic Dulin (37th, 18:46.7), Josh Musial (41st, 18:57.7), Nick Buchta (42nd, 18:58.7), Caleb Budic (55th, 20:09.1) and T.J. May (56th, 20:29.1).
“(Cross country) is more challenging that people think, and I sort of like that challenge,” Gorski said. “This course is always interesting. The cold and weather is always an issue no matter where you go, but the cold definitely played a role in today’s race.”