Naiman wins, Tallmadge boys runners takes second vs. defending state champs

Roger Gordon
Correspondent

Even with the Woodridge boys cross country team shorthanded, Tallmadge failed to eke out a victory Sept. 8 in a tri-meet against the host Bulldogs and Rootstown.

On an extremely hot day, Woodridge, who was without two of its top runners, won the meet with 28 points. Right behind was Tallmadge with 29 points. Rootstown finished third with 81 points.

“Woodridge is the defending Division II state champion,” Blue Devils head coach Jeremy Huth said. “We were excited to have this race. Although they didn’t run a couple of their top runners, they’re still a very, very talented squad.

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“Our top guys competed throughout the race and ran really well. I was impressed with that. For the most part, our guys ran well.”

Tallmadge senior Tommy Naiman won the 49-runner race with a time of 17 minutes, 28 seconds.

“Tommy controlled the race from the start,” said Huth. “Without Woodridge’s top runners, we knew he probably wouldn’t have much competition up front. He did a good job of running up front. It was just an overall solid performance. He did what he needed to do.”

Senior Dawson Ansley finished second with a time of 18:06, and freshman Joey Naiman, Tommy’s brother, placed fifth with a clocking of 18:13.7.

“Dawson got out to a good start. He and Tommy were one-two the entire race, so he held his position,” the coach said. “At the end, that last mile – the Woodridge kids always like to close and try to run hard the last mile – he did a good job of just being aware of where the Woodridge kids were and held them off.

“Joey was in a pack of four Woodridge kids. He battled the entire way. He was able to beat three of them, but one of them got him. We would’ve won the meet had the fourth kid not caught him. He gained a lot of experience from that situation. He had a great performance.”

Senior Ben Jurkowski finished ninth with a time of 18:50, while freshman Collin Adams was 13th with a time of 19:09.

“Ben kind of found himself in no-man’s land,” said Huth. “He ran most of the second and third miles by himself. He didn’t have a whole lot of places to go because there was a huge gap in front of him and behind him, so he just kind of held his spot and was able to score for us.

“Collin is another freshman who has been outstanding this year. For freshman boys – he and Joey – to impact the varsity squad early on, to break into that senior pack, says a lot about their potential not only this year but in years to come.”

Tallmadge is scheduled to host Suburban League American Conference rival Theodore Roosevelt Sept. 16 at 4 p.m.