Over the years, the course at Boardman High School has bedeviled Stow-Munroe Falls cross country.
A combination of high levels of competition, lousy weather and/or course conditions — and just plain rotten luck — have caused many seasons for the Bulldogs to end at the Division I regional meet at Boardman.
Despite a solid effort from the boys team, Boardman proved to be the end of the line for another Bulldog season.
In the Division I boys race, Stow finished 19th in the 24-team race with 437 points. Kenston edged Hudson 126-134 for the Division I boys team title.
The top eight teams and top 32 individual finishers in Division I at Boardman advanced to the state meet.
Meanwhile in the Division I girls race, Stow sophomore Kendra Cassiday endured a rough day.
Stow had hoped to see Cassiday challenge for a spot at states, but she finished in 109th place in a time of 21:01.41.
Boys coach JK LeSeure noted the effort was there from his Bulldogs.
"I think they ran really well," said LeSeure said. "All seven of the guys ran course PRs there. They beat where they were seeded by three places. I think that was as good as we could hope for on that day.
"It was raining pretty good for our race. It really picked up, but it hadn’t been raining all day, so the course was still pretty solid. We kind of have got lucky that way. It would have been nice if it had held off for another half hour."
LeSeure noted the Bulldogs only problem at Boardman was the competition was was sky high.
"It was impressive. We knew it would be," LeSeure said. "Kenston looks for real and they’re still getting better. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them as the favorite at states."
While acknowledging it would have taken a miracle for the Bulldogs to advance to states as a team, LeSeure had hoped that junior Seth Mecura would be able to claim a state berth.
Macura had to settle for 47th place, as he finished in 16:59.22.
University School’s Justin Iler won the Division I boys title in 15:47, while Hudson’s Jack Root claimed the final qualifying spot in a time of 16:45.65.
"He would have had to run about 16:40 to have a shot at getting out," LeSeure said. "I can’t say he ran poorly by any stretch, it just wasn’t in the cards.
"He’s made the decision he wants to be great.," he added. "He’s doing the right things."
The good news for Stow was the rest of Stow’s scoring pack had only a 17-second gap. The bad news was no other Stow runner broke into the top 100 finishers.
In his first trip to regionals, freshman Micah Bentley finished in 17:30.57.
"There’s a lot of young talent there," LeSeure said.
Senior Cooper LeSeure finished his high school career by taking 119th place in 17:39.36.
"I thought he had one big race in him, but he had another day just like any other," coach LeSeure said of his son. "A slow start at Boardman hurts you. He got a bit pinched on the ball fields, but Cooper stayed calms as he always does and came back."
Senior Mathew Duffy took 129th place in 17:42.54, while Zach Shawala finished in 136th place in 17:47.85 to round out the scoring runs.
Sophomore Zach Duffy (153rd, 18:02.18) and senior Alex Virostek (189th, 18:48.22) also ran for Stow at districts.
Stow will lose Cooper LeSeure, Mathew Duffy and Virosten will graduate, but coach LeSeure believes the Bulldog boys have a bright future.
"I feel great. I think they’re going be very strong," LeSeure said. "We’ve got to continue to work on depth. We’ve got some depth. We’ve got to keep take in the next challenge."
As for Cassiday’s performance, girls coach Aaron Morris believes something may have been physically wrong with top runner.
"That was not our best performance. It was kind of the like how she was at districts," Morris said. "She crossed the finish line and she was light-headed. I don’t know if she was ill.:
Morris said Cassiday was in good position to make a move early.
"She came through the mile at 6:06," Morris said. "At the halfway point, she was in contact with 32nd [place]. She was right in the mix.
Somewhere between the mile-and-a-half and the two-mile mark, she dropped 30 places. After the second mile, she dropped another 30 places. That would be indicative of something going on."
Medina’s Juliette Keller won the Division I girls race in 18:12.52.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO