One of his top runners didn’t have a particularly fantastic race the previous week.

There also have been moments when some of his athletes seemed a bit off during their workouts leading up to raceday.

So what does first-year Cuyahoga Falls head boys cross country coach Chris Wilcoxson do about these potentially disturbing situations?

Well, nothing actually.

For Wilcoxson, there are no such things as bad days. You smile, move forward and try to do better the next time.

"If you don’t run well, it’s OK," Wilcoxson said. "You can’t be Michael Jordan every day."

The Black Tigers may be a long way from becoming anything close to the man who famously wore No. 23 in the "City of Big Shoulders."

Nevertheless, Falls’ "Zen master" likes what he sees thus far. He was particularly giddy about Saturday.

Falls, which is still missing some bodies due to injury and fatigue, finished ninth with 189 points at the 12-team Pat Ritchie Invitational at Walsh Jesuit High School.

North Canton Hoover won the competition with 68 points. Massillon Perry’s Devin Halter won the 105-member race by nearly 12 seconds with a time of 16 minutes, 21.08 seconds.

"We ran nine guys in one race," Wilcoxson said. "Last year, everyone lost their shoes because of the mud. Everyone is looking good."

One could easily make the case that Anthony Nichols, who has been the Black Tigers’ top cat in a number of races, had an off-day the previous week at Kenston.

He sure looked more like himself Saturday.

Nichols led Falls with a 10th-place clocking of 16:44.86, which was more than 30 seconds faster than his previous race.

"Anthony came back on a harder course," Wilcoxson said. "He refocused and learned from last week. He learned that it’s OK to have a bad race or a bad practice. Just don’t make a habit of it."

Not far behind Nichols was teammate Koby Dunford, who finished 13th in 16:58.21 and has been extremely consistent since the season began.

Rounding out the top five for the Black Tigers were Logan Urich (41st, 17:44.42), Lukas Keverkamp (57th, 18:00.83) and Anthony Sondles (81st, 18:33.55).

"[Sterling] Hanselman [19:07.99), Urich, Sondles and Keverkamp dropped time again," Wilcoxson said. "Urich dumped another 30 seconds. Hanselman dropped eight and Sondles dumps a few seconds every week. Everyone is right where they’re supposed to be."

Wilcoxson hopes to have his top runner back in the mix too. That young man’s name is Jack Wilcoxson, who happens to be the coach’s son.

"Jack is turning the corner," Coach Wilcoxson said. "He put in a really nice week of practice. Depending on how he feels, he might make his debut in a couple of weeks. It’s baby steps. If something is not right, we’re not going to push it."

Falls probably won’t be considered a powerhouse in Northeast Ohio’s hotbed of distance marvels. Nevertheless, the Black Tigers are having the time of their lives. Such a fact pleases their coach more than anything else.

"They’re having fun," Coach Wilcoxson said. "Last year, they didn’t have a whole lot of fun because of nagging injuries. What matters is, look at where we were and look at where we’re at now. Each week, we’re dumping times. It’s fun to be a part of this group."

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.