Amid soggy conditions Saturday, the Nordonia cross country teams finished in the middle of the pack at Massillon Jackson’s David Ziesmer Invitational.
The Knights’ effort, however, didn’t leave coach Mike Martin feeling all wet.
"It’s a pretty fast course. I go down there because I like to see how we match up against those Stark County schools ahead of regionals," Martin said. "It’s just a measuring stick for us. I thought we ran well on both sides. We had a pretty good day."
Running the large school division at Jackson Memorial Middle School, the Knights girls placed fifth in the eight-team field with 115 points. Jackson won the girls title with 47 points.
The Knight boys finished sixth in the nine-team large school boys division with 122 points. Jackson won the boys title with 47 points.
"When you look at Jackson, coach [Kevin] Walsh takes his team to states just about every year," Martin said. "We had some things we could have done a little bit better. We still need to close up the gap between the top five. If you look at our grouping [on the girls side], it was pretty good. That group has to move up if we want to be successful."
Although field was slowed by the constant rain Saturday, Nordonia sophomore Autumn Westbrooks had a solid race, as she finished sixth in a personal record time of 19:41.3. Louisville’s Morgan Cole won the girls race in 18:51.4.
The problem for the Knight girls was, the gap between first and fifth place was just over two minutes. Senior Abby Rice finished 18th in 20:43.4.
Nordonia then had freshman Suzy Kress (33rd) and senior Hannah Hoover (34th) come in together at 21:41.3, with senior Ava Gavino rounding out the scoring runs, taking 35th in 21:44.8. Martin noted Kress shattered her personal best by more than two minutes.
"We had some good efforts, but we need to keep improving," Martin said.
Senior runners Kayla Vasarhelyi (37th, 21:45.5) and Katelyn Kinch (38th, 21:49.3) weren’t far behind. Sophomore Mikayla Bell (40th, 22:01.1) also ran varsity for the girls.
On the boys side, Nordonia also got a solid run from its top runner, as junior Jayden Wimbush took 10th place in 16:35.8. Uniontown Lake’s Nathan Moore won the boys race in a very fast time of 15:57.2.
"He went out and competed well," Martin said. "Jayden will make it to the state meet if he wants to get there."
The gap in the Nordonia boys’ top five was a little more than minute. Sophomore Louis Hoover was Nordonia’s second finisher, taking 28th place in 17:19.2, followed by senior Nick Orzechowski in 31st place in 17:24.6
Senior Tyler Mosher (33rd, 17:30.3) and junior Jeff Sajovie (40th, 17:40.1) rounded out the scoring runs for Nordonia, with senior Matt Korodi (41st, 17:40.8) just a few steps behind.
"It was a good day for the Knights," Martin said.
Junior Scott McCabe (62nd, 18:48.3), sophomore Nathan Lahrmer (70th, 19:04.7) and Joey Derusso (74th, 19:24.4) also ran the varsity race for the Knights.
Up next for Nordonia will be one of the biggest fields of the season, as the Knights run at the Spartan Invitational Saturday at Boardman. The Division I boys race will start at 1 p.m. with the Division I girls race set for 1:30 p.m.
Martin said he wanted to get Nordonia to Boardman to familiarize his team with the course and the competition level at regionals, which also will take place at Boardman.
‘Because of the quality of the teams there, top 10 on the guys side would be a great thing. Top 15 for the girls would be great," Martin said.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_RPC.