by Brent Hovey
Aurora -- Last year, the Greenmen boys track team broke Orange's streak of eight consecutive league championships. This year, the Greenmen started a streak of their own.
For the second straight year, Aurora won the Chagrin Valley Conference title, one of many highlights in a very successful season.
Others included winning nine of the 12 running events at the CVC meet, advancing two individuals and one relay team to the state meet and setting or tying five school records.
On the year, Aurora went 7-1 in regular meets while winning two mutiple-team meets -- Aurora and the CVC. It finished second out of 11 teams at the Chardon Invitational and third at the Orange Relays.
Aurora finished in fourth place at its Division II district meet.
Senior Chris Dennison placed sixth in the 3,200, capping a very accomplished career that saw him compete in six state meets between cross country and track.
Tommy Heraghty finished 12th in Ohio in the 1,600, while the 4x800 relay team of Dennison, Heraghty and Chris and Rick Buoncore took ninth.
All year long, it was seniors and the relay teams who carried the Greenmen. That was not more obvious than at the CVC meet, when Aurora won all four relay events and three seniors -- Dennison, Matt Perry and Joe Cech -- combined to earn 10 first-place finishes, a second and two meet records.
"THIS GROUP of seniors has done things never before done in Aurora," said coach Mark Dingman. "We lost a good group last year, but they came back and totally rewrote the record books."
It seemed like every meet someone was setting a personal best or a school record. School records were set in the 4x200 and 4x800 relays. In the 4x100 and 4x400, school records were tied. Cech also set a record in the 200.
Coming into the year, Dingman knew his sprinters and distance guys would be good. It was the field events which concerned him.
Strong distance runners have been a trademark of Aurora for the past few years and 2007 was no different. Along with Dennison, Heraghty and both Buoncores, junior Eric Davis impressed Dingman.
"You have to start with Chris when you talk about outstanding performances," said Dingman. "He made it seem so effortless.
"Sometimes he overshadowed other runners like Tommy since he was so good. But Tommy had a fantastic year, too. Rick and Chris did a fantastic job -- whatever it took to win."
As for sprinters, Cech and Perry led the way. "Those two set the foundation for sprints and relays," Dingman said.
Combine their efforts with fellow senior Youcef Lamouri and sophomores Davey Moore, Dee Brizzolara, Dylan Ekstrand and Andrew Krieger and the sprinters lived up to their billing.
Dingman said it was a great luxury to have such depth at the sprint relays.
FRANTZEN, Brizzolara and Jamal Simmons an-chored a hurdler group which surprised a lot of people. Frantzen even made it to the regional meet as a sophomore.
"They worked really hard and came around as the year went on," Dingman said.
Field events were a question mark coming into the year, but like the hurdlers, improvement was shown as the year progressed.
Badalamenti and Lamouri led the way in the long jump and high jump. In his first year of track, Kevin Twarek did a decent job in the discus and shot put, as did Marc Guerini.
In the pole vault, it was Pierre Daube and Nick Dunlavy earning points.
"The field events came along as the year progressed as we hoped they would," Dingman said. "They exceeded my expectations.
"By the end of the year, we had five quality field events. That's a tribute to our coaching staff."
That staff included girls head coach John Kudley and assistants Ken Brown, Laura Bell, Annie Walker and Karl Norton.
By winning their second straight CVC title, the bar has been raised for Greenmen track. Going for the three-peat next year will be a tough task as Aurora loses a deep and talented group of seniors.
Seeing the direction of the program, however, three in a row is not out of the question.
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