Tallmadge's Naiman just misses winning title at Bulldog Invitational

Roger Gordon
Correspondent

Tommy Naiman had some stiff competition Oct. 10 at the Stow Bulldog Invitational at Silver Springs Park in Stow.

The Tallmadge senior was up against “the real deal,” as described by Blue Devils coach Jeremy Huth, in Clay Peets from Akron Firestone.

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“Tommy wanted to pass the kid, so they pushed really hard the first mile,” Huth said.

Naiman wound up finishing second with a time of 16 minutes, 32.94 seconds, more than 21 seconds behind Peets.

“Tommy just kind of hung on,” said Huth. “It was a solid performance out of him.”

Overall, Tallmadge finished third with 90 points. Stow-Munroe Falls won the nine-team competition with 46 points, while Medina Highland was second with 66 points.

“Going into this invitational, we were excited because it gave us a chance to test what we’ve been working for so long since June. So we tried to hype it up and make it as big as possible,” the coach said. “Overall, we didn’t have a great performance, but a solid performance to build upon. We had some really good individual performances.”

Senior Dawson Ansley finished 14th with a time of 17:30.66.

“Dawson continues to run consistent, and I think he’s going to have a good end of the year,” said Huth.

Freshman Joey Naiman, Tommy’s brother, finished 19th with a time of 17:48.87, sophomore Eric Prior placed 27th with a clocking of 18:25.79 and senior Ben Jurkowski was 28th with a time of 18:29.55.

“Joey continues to be huge for us,” Huth said. “To have a freshman come in and consistently run under 18 minutes is all we can ask for. I’m super proud of what he’s been able to accomplish as a freshman.

“Eric had a breakout day. He put it all together and ended up being our number four guy, which is the highest he’s ever been on our squad.”

Tallmadge is scheduled to compete at the Suburban League Championship at Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton Oct. 17 at 9 a.m.

Explained Huth, “Going into the league meet, every year I tell these kids, ‘At the end of the season, one thing you want to start building on is momentum, and that’s momentum for success. If you ran well at Stow, that’s a great start, and then we just carry that over into the league meet, and we run well there, and then we carry that over into the district meet and on and on.’

“So we’re trying to build that momentum and just continue to be confident and trust in our training, and good things are going to happen.”

The Blue Devils’ junior varsity team finished runner-up in the 10-team JV open race. Drew Black won the competition with a time of 18.38. Other high finishers for Tallmadge were Sam Angerstein (sixth, 19:21) and Reid Gibson (21st, 20:08).