It would be easy to guess that Dan Scourfield didn’t serve ice cream or play loud music during practice last week.
The veteran Cuyahoga Falls head girls cross country coach preferred to go with the not exactly enticing business-before-pleasure approach.
"We had a tough week of practice," Scourfield said. "We had some really tough back-to-back workouts. They potentially could have worn them out."
Did the Black Tigers care for such dead serious workouts that nearly ran them into the ground?
"They complained about it, but we’re doing it again this week," Scourfield said.
The Falls’ runners aren’t complaining about their performances last Saturday, though. The Black Tigers had their third strong race in a row on a course located less than four miles away from their institution on Fourth Street.
Falls finished seventh with 169 points at the 12-team Pat Ritchie Invitational, which took place at Walsh Jesuit High School. Warren Howland won the competition with 54 points. Chardon’s Andrea Mann placed first out of 105 runners with a time of 19 minutes, 22.64 seconds.
As for Scourfield’s runners, they continued to impress on a course that was a bit more challenging than the one they saw the previous week.
"They were consistent," Scourfield said. "They took what they did at Kenston and duplicated it. Everyone was dancing around their PR [personal-record] times they ran the weekend before. They didn’t have a really big fall-off."
The Black Tigers appear to have an emerging star in Aiamyia Dudley. The standout senior, who qualified for the Division I state track and field meet in the 800-meter race and as a member of Falls’ 800 relay team in June, has adjusted quite nicely to 5K races. She finished third with a clocking of 20:01.67.
"Aiamyia was sitting 11th with about a mile left," Scourfield said. "She was sitting eighth with about 800 meters left. She ran down five girls in the last 800 meters. She was flying."
Dudley may have to fine-tune a few things if she wants to earn a date in a far more prestigious race down the road.
But she’s excelling rather rapidly just three races into the season.
"We’re trying to get her stronger," Scourfield said. "We’re trying to get her to a point where she runs 2 ½ miles well to be able to use that last 800-meter speed she already has."
Meredith Gallagher also made a strong impression on her coach with a 15th-place time of 20:31.52. So did Chelsea Huffman, who placed 36th in 21:40.39.
"Meredith ran really well and Chelsea had her best race of the year," Scourfield said. "Chelsea is starting to round into shape as far as being in competitive shape. She is having a really nice year."
Rounding out the top five for the Black Tigers were Elsa Lowry (53rd, 21:18.99) and Teagan Barnett (76th, 23:23.42), who continues to trim her times in dramatic fashion.
"Teagan was probably the surprise of the day," Scourfield said. "She had her best time by 1:30. She had a phenomenal day."
Scourfield didn’t feel particularly stoked about his team’s chances when he first reached Wyoga Lake Road.
Walsh’s course was a bit more taxing than Kenston’s course, thanks to its changes in elevation.
It’s a safe bet he doesn’t feel nearly as edgy now.
"I was a little apprehensive," Scourfield said. "I thought we might see times balloon a little bit. They were almost 10 seconds within their times. It was more technically demanding.
"They followed up a really good performance at Kenston with an equally good performance at Walsh. I was really happy with what they did."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.