Dan Scourfield enjoys making the 50-minute trip to Willoughby for the Andrews Osborne Invitational.
Last Saturday is a good indication why the Cuyahoga Falls head girls cross country coach plans to make many more trips to Willoughby in the future.
The Black Tigers placed fourth with 100 points in the seven-team Division I race at the Andrews Osborne Academy Invitational Saturday.
Massillon Jackson easily won the competition with 20 points. Mentor (67) and Geneva (80) finished second and third, respectively.
So how did it go for Falls? Let’s just say it was a pretty decent experience.
"It was our best performance of the year," Scourfield said. "We had a lot of girls run fast times, which is always a good thing. We had 10 personal-best and six season-best times."
"I like the course. It’s one of my favorite ones. It’s a combination of everything. There’s woods and open fields. It’s very spectator-friendly."
Jackson freshman Sofia Istnick and Allie Hartnett took the top two spots with times of 19 minutes, 11.7 seconds and 19:44.36, respectively. A total of 50 runners competed.
Junior Meredith Gallagher led the Black Tigers with an eighth-place clocking of 20:35.83.
"Meredith had her third PR (personal record) in a row," Scourfield said. "Her strategy is to move through the field consistently. She starts relatively in the middle. After she goes through that first mile, she gets after it pretty good."
Rounding out the top five for Falls were junior Chelsea Huffman (20th, season-best 21:37.82), senior Valerie Deighton (21st, season-best 21:42.99), freshman Elsa Lowry (24th, 22:14.65) and junior Nadia Luksza (27th, 22:20.36).
Also running in the varsity race were freshman Ana Crangle (28th, personal-best 22:32.21) and junior Zoe King (31st, 23:24.35).
Senior Melody Lewis led the Black Tigers in the open race with a sixth-place time of 21:53.07, which was a season-best time.
Falls finished fourth with 117 points in the nine-team competition.
Also faring well for Falls were senior Kristica Barnett (32nd, personal-best 23:35.82), sophomore Kara Herman (46th, personal-best 24:20.66), freshman Laila Smith (60th, season-best 25:01.03), junior Kearan Barnett (61st, season-best 25:01.35), freshmen Zoe Kubick (89th, 26:32.32) and Becca Johnston (99th, personal-best 26:49.51), sophomore Sebika Khadka (102nd, 26:57.93), freshman Isabelle Coffman (104th, 26:59.96) and Elise Erhard (107th, 27:15.58) and senior Mikayla Shaffer (114th, 27:43.48).
"Kara has had a really nice year for a first-year runner," Scourfield said. "I’m excited to see how she progresses over the next two years. Zoe is another one who keeps getting better and better.
"What’s kind of interesting is the JV (junior varsity) ran first. Usually, the varsity runs first. It was cool and overcast in the morning and they really benefited from it.
"The varsity race started with rain and about a mile into the race, the rain stopped and the humidity shot up."
The Black Tigers are scheduled to run at the Suburban League Championships Thursday at Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton. Racing is set to begin at 3 p.m.
If Falls performs the same way Thursday as it did Saturday, it could sneak a win or two over its rivals.
"They competed," Scourfield said. "One of the things I’ve always liked about my cross country teams is they do compete.
"Every time I asked them to move up, they moved up. We’re right where we want to be."
The Black Tigers are scheduled to run at a Division I district meet Oct. 20 at GlenOak High School in Canton. Running is set to begin at 3 p.m.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.