It was a memorable day for Tommy Naiman.
The Tallmadge junior cross country runner posted a personal-best time of 16 minutes, 30.6 seconds Saturday at the Galion Cross Country Festival.
Naiman’s time was good enough for 11th place in the Division II race. It also was good enough to rank as the fifth fastest time in school history."It was a pretty prestigious day for Tommy," Blue Devils head coach Jeremy Huth said. "I thought he could definitely be in the top 10, and he almost was."
Overall, Tallmadge finished 11th with 276 points in the 23-team Division II race. Chillicothe Unioto won the competition with 67 points. West Liberty-Salem (88) and Lodi Cloverleaf (157) finished second and third, respectively.
"I think we underachieved as a team," Huth said. "I think we’re definitely better than an 11th-place finish at that meet. Our top five just got so spread out that, after our No. 2 runner, we were not in contact with each other, or close together, at all, so that definitely affected the overall finish.
"That’s one of the courses every year our kids look forward to running because it’s pretty flat and pretty fast and it’s like a three-loop course. Just about every one of our runners ran their best times, but we just don’t have that group with our Nos. 3-5 runners that stays together."
Galion’s Tate Braxton placed first out of 163 runners with a time of 15:26.8. Tallmadge junior Dawson Ansley finished 33rd with a personal-best time of 17:24.2.
"That was a huge day for Dawson," Huth said. "He definitely stepped up. He had a great performance, a gutsy performance. It was a breakthrough performance. He pushed hard throughout the entire race and ended up running really well. I think he could be a 17-minute runner, so that was a huge step in the right direction for him."
Rounding out the top five for Tallmadge were Ben Jurkowski (62nd, 18:02.3); Jackson Queen (80th, personal-best 18:28.8) and Jake Becks (94th, personal-best 18:43.3).
"We can’t stress enough to our team that they need to be mentally tough," Huth said. "They’re capable of running great together as a team, but for some reason, on Saturdays, they’re not putting it together.
"They just need more experience racing to get more confidence. We’re hoping that Dawson’s performance will rub off on our Nos. 3-5 runners."