Several years ago, I had a candid conversation with Jeremy Huth.
Off the record, of course.
Huth, who recently completed his 15th year as the head coach of the Tallmadge cross country teams, revealed this little nugget.
"All it takes is one."
Huth was referring to a state title, an illustrious trophy that only the elite few seem to touch.
Basically, the best interpretation of our conversation could be found in a certain 1989 film about a mysterious cornfield in Iowa.
"If you build it, he will come."
Translation: If you win a state title, you become far more attractive to others than you were before you won.
The Blue Devils are still seeking that highly-coveted state championship prize. However, it’s safe to say that Huth and Co. have built their own "Field of Dreams" after a ground-breaking fall.
Tallmadge recently concluded its greatest season ever with a third-place finish at the Division II state meet Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
The Blue Devils, who had never qualified to the Promised Land as a team prior to this year, finished just five points behind Granville for second place.
When Huth made that comment, he mentioned some of the most successful programs in Northeast Ohio. That would be Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and Woodridge.
All three of those elite programs have some golden hardware since 2008. In case you’re wondering, the Irish lead this impressive trio with a mind-boggling five straight championships from 2009 to 2013.
Those three teams’ accolades are safe for now. But Tallmadge is no longer a blurry dot in their rearview mirrors.
In fact, the Blue Devils topped all three of those teams this season. St. V-M finished fourth while the Bulldogs placed ninth. By the way, the Royals did not qualify for the state meet this year.
Tallmadge can certainly relate to CVCA’s "drought," though.
Prior to this fall, the Blue Devils had never even sniffed the state meet let alone get a bronze medal.
Those days appear to be over.
Thanks to senior future Hall of Famers Kenna Loveless and Ravyn Edge, Tallmadge is now the standard for Division II girls’ distance running in Northeast Ohio.
Even without a title in their grasp, the Blue Devils have built it. As a result, they are becoming more and more attractive to future 5K specialists for years to come.
The sooner, the better.
Loveless, a four-time state qualifier, will go down in history as one of Tallmadge’s greatest female athletes ever.
Loveless, a former basketball player who also was a state qualifier for the Blue Devils’ track and field team in June, concluded her career with an eighth-place finish.
Edge, who may have noticed Tallmadge’s "building" process, joined the team in 2017. The sensational two-sport standout and the rest of the Blue Devils have hit the ground running ever since.
Edge, a two-time state qualifier for Tallmadge’s track and field squad, finished 19th to earn All-Ohio honors.
While the Blue Devils are forced to see their favorite "Ravyn" fly away for good, they still have their beloved "Kat" for another three years.
This not so furry feline is freshman Katherine Carter, who just missed the podium with a 23rd-place finish and might be, dare I say it, Tallmadge’s next Kenna Loveless.
Like Edge, sophomore Ana Crangle was intrigued by the Blue Devils’ magical "cornfield."
After running for Cuyahoga Falls as a freshman, Crangle decided to join the Blue Devils.
It’s a safe bet she seemed pretty comfortable in her new surroundings. Crangle was the fourth Tallmadge runner to cross the finish line in Hebron.
While Huth also had to say goodbye to senior Mabinty Kromah, who finished just a few places behind Crangle, his eyes are sure to light up when it comes to Mackenzie Moran and Katrina Hunt, who also got their feet wet at the state meet.
By the way, they should be back next year since Moran is a junior and Hunt is just a sophomore.
Now that they’ve built their majestic Field of Dreams, it’s a safe bet more and more "people will come" to this 5K paradise.
Interestingly enough, there seems to be more rumors of Huth having another supernatural experience. Once again, the veteran coach is hearing the same peculiar voice Ray Kinsella heard during a trip to Fenway Park.
Not that he minds, though. These words sound quite enticing too.
"Go the distance."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.