Jeremy Huth realizes that Highland is "untouchable with their top two runners," as he put it, but the Tallmadge head girls cross country coach believes his team can get to second place in the Suburban League American Conference by the end of the season.
"If we can get some improvement from our three through five runners, which I think we can, I think the gap can be closer with Aurora," he said. "I think we can overtake Aurora if we have five girls who put together a great race."
The Blue Devils performed just as Huth thought they would – a 4-2 record in the conference – Saturday in the Suburban League Super Duals at Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton.
They defeated Copley (22-35), Revere (18-43), Kent Roosevelt (18-43) and Barberton (forfeit) and lost to Highland (21-39) and Aurora (25-36).
Overall individually, Highland’s Kaylie Kenne won the race with a time of 19 minutes, 8 seconds. A total of 129 runners competed.
Tallmadge juniors Ravyn Edge and Kenna Loveless finished sixth and eighth, respectively. Edge had a clocking of 20:25 and Loveless finished in 20:33.
"There were phenomenal runners in front of Ravyn and they were from Division I schools," Huth said. "I think Ravyn can be around third in the conference. She tends to get wrapped up where Kenna is and I think she’s comfortable running near her instead of competing for a higher spot. Sometimes, it seems like the two of them are almost racing against each other instead of running together.
"If Kenna wasn’t in that race Saturday, I’d like to see how Ravyn would’ve done running by herself," continued Huth. "Overall, Ravyn improved from last year by seven spots. I’m definitely proud of her in a very, very tough race. Kenna had a great first two miles in which she definitely tried to make some moves. She tried everything she could to put together an all-around race. She just ran out of steam at the end. She didn’t blow up, but she definitely didn’t have the finish that she needed to be in the top five."
Three first-year runners finished third through fifth — freshman Kelsey Barker (52nd, 22:38), junior Mabinty Kromah (70th, 23:18) and freshman Katrina Hunt (80th, 23:37).
"Kelsey came in late during the summer, so she’s a little behind in her training," Huth said. "But she’s running phenomenally as our No. 3 girl. Mabinty has a lot of natural athletic ability. She’s trying to learn how to run three miles. She’s a true sprinter in track on the 400 and 800 relay teams. We tried to tell her to just go out there and run with Kelsey and each meet, she goes a little farther sticking with her. So hopefully, by the end of the season, she’ll be able to put together a great race and impact our overall team score. Katrina started even later than Kelsey. She’s definitely got power. For her to be in our top five already shows just how good she is."