Tallmadge boys cross country runs with state powers

Roger Gordon
Correspondent

It was a learning experience.

That is how head coach Jeremy Huth described his Tallmadge boys cross country team’s performance Sept. 26 in a tri-meet against heavyweights Woodridge and host North Canton Hoover.

“There were a lot of good things that came out of this meet,” he said. “We had some individual runners really step up and run well, so we were definitely happy about that.

“All the pieces are not put together yet, so we’re still trying to build that strong top five, but we did have a couple underclassmen who I think we can really count on come postseason do well. That was our first big Saturday-morning race. It will prepare us for the postseason.”

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Woodridge won the meet with 26 points, Hoover was second with 34 points and Tallmadge was third with 72 points.

On Sept. 30, the Blue Devils won at Suburban League American Conference rival Barberton 15-50. They are now 4-6 on the season.

In the tri-meet with Woodridge and Hoover, Dawson Ansley was Tallmadge’s top runner with an eighth-place time of 17 minutes, 25 seconds.

“Dawson ran a solid, consistent race,” said Huth. “He’s getting to the point now where he’s really locked in and knows what he’s capable of doing. He’s not distracted by the outside, the other kids who are running, he’s just locked into his race. In doing that, I think he really ran well.”

Senior Tommy Naiman finished 16th with a time of 18:09.

“This was a big-time race for Tommy,” Huth said. “There were probably four kids, a few from Hoover and one from Woodridge, who were definitely going to test his ability. He went out with them and pushed the pace early on. They came through the mile smoking fast at about 4:58, but he just couldn’t withstand that. Probably mentally and physically, Tommy just couldn’t handle that.

“It was a good race to learn from. We talked to Tommy about when it comes time for the district and regional meets, you can’t go out there and blow up because that’s going to affect our team score. We told him that he has to run a little more conservatively and make sure he’s doing what he needs to do to get our team to advance to the next level.”

Freshman Collin Adams finished 17th with a time of 18:10, freshman Joey Naiman, Tommy’s brother, placed 19th with a time of 18:11 and senior Ben Jurkowski was 21st with a clocking of 18:19.

“Collin has really stepped up,” said the coach. “He had a phenomenal day, extremely tough. He’s learning more and more each week about this sport. He’s run ever since we started our youth program, so he has a lot of experience but not at this level. He’s been great, absolutely great.

“It was probably not Joey’s best day. He didn’t completely fall apart. He had a solid day, but I know he’s capable of doing better than that. As a freshman we tell him, ‘Not every day is going to be your best day. You’re going to have days where things just don’t click.’ We told him to keep his head up and keep working.

“We tell Ben and a couple of our other seniors that we need to be better than what we are. We’re definitely counting on that number five runner to be with the pack and to compete and help these younger kids. Ben is getting better as each race goes by. I think, from this point on, hopefully he knows that we’re working towards the end of the season and he’s got to bring it.”

In the win over Barberton, Huth was able to run several underclassmen. Sophomore Jake Tokash won the race with a time of 18:21. Freshman Joey Ewers was second with a time of 18:35.

Sophomore Angelo Miller finished third with a time of 18:52, sophomore Drew Black placed fourth with a clocking of 18:57 and sophomore Sam Angerstein was fifth with a time of 19:24.

“Our top four runners were under 19 minutes,” Huth said. “I thought they ran extremely well. That’s the future of our team. I was super proud of all of these guys.”

The Blue Devils get a week off and then are scheduled to host American Conference rival Highland at 9 a.m. Oct. 10.