The Stow-Munroe Falls girls cross country team showed again Oct. 22 that it's peaking at precisely the right time.
The Bulldog girls booked their tickets to regionals with a strong second-place finish at the Division I district meet at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds in Cortland.
The top five teams and top 20 individuals from Cortland advanced to the Division I regional meet at Boardman Oct. 29. Results from regionals were not available at press time.
The Bulldog girls finished with 76 points at Cortland, just behind champion Aurora which finished with 70 points. Chardon (88 points), Solon (93) and Walsh Jesuit (105) also advanced to regionals.
On the boys side, however, the Bulldogs had a rough day.
Stow finished 10th in the 14-team boys field at Cortland with 226 points. Only senior Jonathan Holtz advanced as an individual to regionals.
Solon dominated the Division I boys team race with 31 points, while Kenston (79 points), Walsh Jesuit (120), Warren Howland (141) and Boardman (143) also advanced to regionals.
This district race marked the first time in years that Stow had run at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds. Stow coach John Roseman said he remembers the course as being fairly fast, but conditions Oct. 22 were less than ideal.
"The biggest problem with the course was just all the rain," Roseman said. "It was just a slow day. I believe when the course is dry, it's pretty fast. It was nowhere near fast on Saturday. Where we started was just a swamp."
The Stow girls did a great job of running as a pack at Cortland, as Roseman said it was the girls' best team effort."
"The big thing for us was our top five gap was only 50 seconds," Roseman said. "We've got to have our top four running together at districts."
While Stow's top three runners all were in good form, Roseman lauded freshman Jocelyn Shatraw and senior Kayla Valente for excellent days.
"[Shatraw] said she felt like she could have gone out with our top three at the Suburban League meet," Roseman said. "She went out with them this week. Kayla Valente just ran a really great race."
Stow's top finisher was sophomore Mackenzie Cassiday, who finished eighth in 20:05.61.
Junior Tessa Pitcovich was just a few steps behind, taking 10th place in 20:10.32, followed by Shatraw, who took 14th place in 20:29.63.
Junior Sophia Perez was a bit off the pace of Stow's top runners, though Roseman said Perez was not complaining about her ankle during the meet.
Perez still finished 21st in 20:52.97, while Valente was close behind, taking 23th in 20:56.37.
Stow's other varsity runners also had solid runs, as senior Annaleigh Koch finished 25th in 20:58.46 and junior Emily Wisniewski was 33rd in 21:13.89.
Due to an expanded field at Boardman, the top eight teams and top 32 individuals advance to the states.
Heading into regionals, Roseman felt his girls team had a legitimate chance to reach the state meet as a team for the first time since 1999.
"We've got a shot. We can't have any let ups," Roseman said. "We're in that fight for sixth, seventh or eighth."
As for the boys team, Roseman said the effort was there at districts.
"I actually thought the guys did well. That's where we're at right now," Roseman said. "I thought that was their best effort as a team. I wasn't expecting them to get out. I was proud of the way they ran as a team."
Holtz finished 20th at districts -- earning the final place for a regional berth -- in a time of 17:09.86.
"I don't think he had his best day. He didn't look bad," Roseman said. "His hamstring has been acting up. He definitely needs to do better at regionals. He'll have to be on his game to be in the top 32."
The rest of the Bulldog boys saw their season end at districts.
Sophomore Jason Anzaldi finished 31st in 17:31.63.
Sophomore Coley Shawala (55th, 18:08.01), sophomore Patrick Bunnell (58th, 18:11.7) and junior Matthew Rohde (62nd, 18:24.2) rounded out the scoring runs.
Freshman Mathew Duffy (65th, 18:31.47) and freshman Patrick Kline (70th, 18:41.01) also ran at districts.
The Division I state cross country meet will take place Nov. 5 at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.