The Blue Devils’ goal was third place and that’s exactly where they finished.
Head coach Jeremy Huth knew that it would be practically impossible for his Tallmadge girls cross country team to finish first or second, but he thought third place was a definite possibility Saturday at the Galion Cross Country Festival.
The Blue Devils scored 107 points in the 18-team Division II race. Lexington easily won the competition with 29 points and Mansfield Ontario finished second with 54 points.
"We’d been looking at this meet all season long," Huth said. "Lexington is No. 1 in the state and Ontario is No. 2 in the state in Division II. Both are outstanding, phenomenal.
"Plain City Jonathan Alder was ranked No. 14. Going in, we knew that Lexington and Ontario would be tough to beat and that we couldn’t compete with them as a team, but we wanted to be in that three spot, ahead of Jonathan Alder.
"I put a lot of pressure on the girls. We had a good week of training, and they came through and beat Jonathan Alder, which finished behind us in fourth, pretty convincingly. Our Nos. 2-5 girls beat each of their Nos. 2-5 girls.
"It was an all-around great day. We ran so well as a team. When we found out we finished third, everybody was just ecstatic. Hopefully, we’ll be ranked soon."
Leading the way for Tallmadge were seniors Kenna Loveless and Ravyn Edge. Loveless finished eighth with a time of 19 minutes, 5.7 seconds, while Edge placed ninth with a time of 19:33.6.
"It was a spectacular time for Kenna," Huth said. "That’s one of her top three times ever, so she has nothing to be disappointed about. She ran a gutsy race early on and came through the first mile with that lead pack, but she just couldn’t hold on to the talent up front. She wasn’t disappointed with her time but was disappointed with her place."
Lexington took the top three spots in the 125-member race. Halle Hamilton won the race by 10 seconds with a time of 18:20.3.
Rounding out the top five for Tallmadge were Kat Carter (24th, 20:39.4); Ana Crangle (27th, 20:55.4) and Kelsey Bellman (39th, 21:31.3).
"Kat has been our workhorse all season," Huth said. "Every meet I can tell her, ‘I need you in the top 20’ and she’s in or near that top 20. She has been so great at coming through and being consistent, which helps everybody else because Ana and Kelsey stepped up huge. They’re able to see Kat and they run off of her."
According to Huth, every meet is preparation for November.
"Each weekend the girls are excited to run and keep doing well," he said. "We want to keep them healthy and keep this mindset that we can be running as a team in [Hebron]."