With an eye toward an expanded field at this year's Division I Boardman regional meet, the Spartan Invitational at Boardman welcomed a larger field Sept. 16.
How much larger? This year's Division I boys field included 46 teams and 525 varsity runners.
Keep in mind the course at Boardman is not the fastest.
Thus, the Stow-Munroe Falls cross country teams were up to their elbows in competition.
"I had two girls that did not finish the race because girls fell on them and messed up their ankles," said Stow coach John Roseman. "It was pretty much a madhouse.
"The reason for all the extra teams was the reorganization for the districts and regionals. I think we're in the fight at regionals. Part of the problem was they were taking 13 runners [from each team in the varsity race]."
In this madhouse, the Stow girls team did a decent job, finishing 16th in the 41-team girls field with 464 points. Twinsburg won the Division I girls team title with 123 points.
The Bulldog boys had to settle for 27th place in the 46-team boys race with 733 points. Solon dominated the boys field, winning with 70 points.
In the girls race, one of the two Stow runners unable to finish due to the pileup was No. 1 runner Sophia Perez
"I'm not sure where in the race it actually happened," Roseman said. "Sophie is OK now, but it messed up her ankle enough that she didn't finish the race."
Abby Kuhns also was unable to finish for Stow.
"You drop out one of your top runners in a race like that and you're going to drop in the standings," Roseman said. "I feel, if we do what we can do we're going to be in the hunt at regionals."
With Perez out, sophomore Mackenzie Cassiday was Stow's top finisher, taking 29th place in 20:42.8.
"She's come along," Roseman said.
Freshman Jocelyn Statraw took 67th place in 21:17.9, while junior Tessa Pitcovich finished 103rd in 21:46.5.
"If we get Tessa, McKenzie and Sophie running together, we'll got far in the postseason," Roseman said.
Senior Kayla Valente (125th, 22:06.8) and junior Shelby Gluth (141st, 22:31.3) rounded out the scoring runs for Stow.
Junior Emily Wisniewski (156th, 22:31), freshman Megan Shelley (248th, 23:29.4) junior Kamryn Drach (298th, 24:17.3), junior Andrea Perez (310th, 24:27.1), sophomore Lelia Darwiche (318th, 24:31.2) and freshman Julianna Statraw (335th, 24:48.6) also ran the varsity race for Stow.
"We're basically a really young team on the guys side," Roseman said. "We had a few guys that hadn't been performing step up. It goes back to getting healthy. Connor Jenkins, who is one of our top runners, didn't even run because he was sick."
A week after winning the varsity 'B' race at the Tiffin Carnival, senior Jonathan Holtz came home in 55th place in a time of 17:30.9.
Holtz was the lone Bulldog to finish in the top 100 runners.
"I'm working with Jonathan on a couple things," Roseman said. "I don't think that was his best race."
Junior Cole Shawala just missed the 18-minute barrier, as he finished 111th in a time of 18:01.9. Sophomore Jason Anzaldi took 160th place in 18:27.7.
"Jason is basically back where he should be," Roseman said.
Freshman Patrick Bunnell (208th, 18:49.7) and junior Ben Johnson-Bowers (306th, 19:37.5) rounded out the scoring runs for Stow.
The Bulldogs also had freshman Patrick Kline (313th, 19:40.2), junior Drew Decker (328th, 19:48.8), junior Matthew Rohde (408th, 20:30.2) junior Brandon Moore (423rd, 20:42.4), Ethan Rooser (430th, 20:47.1), junior Aiden Sisil (433rd, 20:47.7) and freshman Ryan Gabele (480th, 21:31) run at Boardman.
Stow was set to run at the Todd Clark Invitational at Cloverleaf Sept. 24, but results were not available at press time.
This week, Stow will make a trip to Rochester, N.Y. to participate in the McQuaid Jesuit Invitational Oct. 1.