NORTON — Aurora sophomore Matthew Singleton seems to have an almost zen-like approach to running.
Singleton’s approach was on display Thursday as he dominated the field at the Suburban League Championship Meet at Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton.
Singleton won the American Conference boys’ race in 16 minutes, 38 seconds, besting runner-up Max McAdams of Highland by 21 seconds.
Singleton’s dominance led a spirited effort by the Greenmen, but it wasn’t quite enough to get Aurora the American Conference team title, as the Hornets won with 33 points. The Greenmen scored 37 points, while Tallmadge was third with 86 points. Kent Roosevelt finished sixth with 173 points.
Meanwhile in the American Conference girls’ race, Tallmadge finished 1-2-3 in front of the field, leading to the Blue Devils’ first cross country conference title in school history. The Blue Devils won the girls’ team title with 27 points, holding off Highland (43 points) and Aurora (57). The Rough Riders placed sixth with 167 points.
Singleton made it look easy. After the field tried to run with him in the first mile, Singleton opened up a gap of about 200 meters at the two-mile mark and never looked back.
Although unseasonably warm temperatures slowed the field at Silver Creek, Singleton wasn’t complaining.
"The course ran pretty well [Thursday]," he said. "We came in here wanting to win the league title. I was trying to get as good a position as I could for my teammates."
"He is pretty laid back," Aurora coach Lauren Bell-Peters said. "He’s a tough competitor, though. He has goals that I know he’s going to fight for in the next few weeks.
"It’s not where we wanted to be, but I’m happy with how the guys ran. They were fighting for it."
Aurora also had sophomore Andrew Ploskunak win a foot race with Highland’s Elijah Hadler to take third place in 17:05. The Greenmen also had William Van Fossen (sixth, 17:36), Logan Warren (10th, 18:10) and Luke Owens (11th, 18:10) finish strong.
Tallmadge was led by junior Tommy Naiman taking seventh place in 17:43, while junior Dawson Ansley was right behind in eighth (17:49).
"We thought third place overall is where we belonged," Blue Devils head coach Jeremy Huth said. Tommy didn’t have the kind of race he wanted, but it didn’t hurt us in the team standings."
In the American girls’ race, Huth saw his runners sweep the podium places.
Senior Kenna Loveless accomplished her goal of winning the American title, as she won in 19:43. Freshman Kat Carter came in second in 19:50, while senior Ravyn Edge placed third in 20:26.
"I knew coming in, the closest competition was going to be my teammates," Loveless said. "[Carter] is a really strong runner. She rolled her ankle at Gilmour Academy earlier."
Ana Crangle (10th, 21:14) and Mabinty Kromah (11th, 21:34) closed out the scoring runs for Tallmadge to secure the team’s first conference title.
"We’ve never won a Suburban League title," Huth said. "I got three this year. The first was a 1-2-3. The second was get through districts. We’ll take them one at a time. This is probably the best we’ve ever done here."
Aurora freshman Grace Barto was the first non-Blue Devil to cross the finish line, as she took fourth in a personal-record time 20:38. The Greenmen also got a top-10 finish from senior Karsen Zabell (ninth, 21:03).
"I think we knew Tallmadge and Highland were going to be tough to beat," Bell-Peters said. "Their goal was to press them and we did. I think Grace can still run faster. She’s a freshman so she’s still learning."
Although both of her teams finished in sixth place, Roosevelt head coach Melodie Sams said it was a good day for the Rough Riders.
"I really happy with our boys [Thursday]," she said. "It’s hot. It was not about times."
Sams noted senior Jordan Carlton accomplished his goal of a top-20 finish in the American Conference, as he finished 20th in 18:40.
Roosevelt’s girls were led by sophomore Marissa Koach, who finished 25th in 22:47.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_GHO.