Heading into the race, Tommy Naiman’s goal was to finish in the top 10.
The Tallmadge junior cross country runner accomplished his goal and a little more by finishing eighth out of 342 runners with a time of 16 minutes, 37.6 seconds last Saturday in the Varsity ‘A’ race at the Saturday Night Lights Centerville Invitational.
"I thought that would be a huge accomplishment, finishing in the top 10, and Tommy lived up to his expectations," Blue Devils head coach Jeremy Huth said. "He did not fold under pressure and definitely was very competitive throughout the entire race."
Overall, Tallmadge finished 16th out of 37 teams with 431 points. Cedarville won the competition with 204 points. Cincinnati Sycamore (225) and Northville, Michigan (256), placed second and third, respectively.
"I thought our top guys, Tommy and junior Dawson Ansley, definitely ran what they were capable of running," Huth said. "It was a pretty crazy meet. In the middle of the pack is where we belonged in that race and that’s about where we finished."
Cedarville’s Ethan Wallis won the individual race with a time of 16:17.1. Ansley finished 56th with a clocking of 17:34.9.
"Dawson has had two good weeks in a row," Huth said. "He’s really learning how to run at this level. He continues to get better. He’s becoming more confident and just learning how to really work hard up front."
Rounding out the top five for the Blue Devils were juniors Ben Jurkowski (119th, 18:14.4), Jackson Queen (123rd, 18:15.8) and Jake Becks (142nd, personal-best 18:27).
"Ben continues to try to get his time under 18 minutes," Huth said. "Jackson was just a couple of seconds off his best time ever. He has had back-to-back weeks of consistency and is coming along really nice. I think he’s going to have a breakout performance in the next couple weeks.
"I was super excited about Jake’s race and I know he was super excited about his performance, as well. Throughout the season, he just gets better and better and better. He’s an all-around good athlete."
Freshman Eric Prior ran a personal-best time of 19:23, good enough for 242nd place.
"We need to start learning how to run more together as a team instead of individually," Huth said.