Twinsburg's Aiden Cain reaches regional cross country meet

Steve Batko
Correspondent

While Twinsburg’s boys and girls cross country teams had to get used to a new post season course at the Madison District Championships, Aidan Cain went about his business.

Not just leading the boys’ excellent pack running in districts, the talented Twinsburg junior was the lone Tiger to qualify to the regional championships in a new-look alignment this fall.

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Cain qualified out of the Madison Division I District meet, which took place Oct. 24.

Last fall, Twinsburg ran at the Trumbull County District at Cortland’s Trumbull County Fairgrounds.

This fall at Madison, Cain finished 27th overall in boys competition.

While Twinsburg no longer had to deal with state powerhouse Hudson, which also fled Trumbull County District and won team titles this fall at the Canton GlenOak District, there were some teams and talent at Madison.

Cain and company all faced solid balance at Madison.

Twinsburg’s boys finished 11th overall out of 24 schools with 332 points.

Shaker Heights grabbed the final team berth with 235 points as the top eight boys teams and those individuals that finish in the top 32 spots advanced to the Boardman Division I Regional Championships Oct. 31.

The 21-team girls’ field was challenging as the top six clubs and 24 individuals went on to regionals.

Twinsburg’s girls unit placed 10th overall (242) as Kenston bested Mentor 64-73, Shaker Heights (73), and Cleveland St. Joseph Academy (96). Chardon (136) and Warren Howland (196) also made the cut.

In girls’ action, the Tigers have never had athletes run as fast as they did and not collect a regional berth in the process - it was both disappointing and yet encouraging.

Meanwhile Cain showed some poise at districts, registering a clocking of 16 minutes and 48.20 seconds.

Placing within those 32 spots enabled Cain to reach regionals for a second time. Last year, Cain ran at Trumbull County with a time of 16:38.06, which was 16th overall.

“Aiden is our sole regional qualifier this year,” proclaimed veteran head coach Sarah Kmet. “Aiden finished 27th overall and he ran a smart race and moved well during the race.”

“He (Cain) did not panic and had a strong finish to lock up his second consecutive regional qualifying season,” added Kmet.

Just missing a regional berth was Sam Wales-McGrath as he made his post season debut and supported Cain in brilliant fashion.

A promising freshman, Wales-McGrath crossed 38th overall with a personal best clocking of 17:02.72.

“Sam just missed making it out,” Kmet said.

Kmet saw the talented rookie post a faster middle mile as Wales-McGrath gained invaluable experience.

“Similar to last week at the league meet, Sam moved up extremely well after the mile mark,” she said. “He was one of very few boys in the race with a faster middle mile. A

slow-ish start proved costly and he just ran out of course, but I fully expect Sam to be racing for state next fall.”

Twinsburg’s girls ran their very best as a team. That opened up Kmet’s eyes – especially with her program’s solid youth movement.

“Sadly, we did not get any girls out to the regional, but our district was by far, the most challenging in northeast Ohio – it had five state ranked teams and only six total advance,” added Kmet.

“Of the 24 individual qualifying spots, only three went to girls not on regional qualifying teams,” noted Kmet.

Kmet was thrilled with the performance.

“We have never had girls run as fast as Sophie Besett and Katie Vasiliauskas did today and not make it out – it is just crazy,” emphasized Kmet.

“Both Sophie and Katie did an excellent job moving through the field and each ran huge season bests, but it wasn’t quite enough in such a loaded field,” added the coach.

“Each girl ran a season or lifetime best - there's nothing more we could have asked these girls to do,” Kmet went on. “They ran their very best on the day it mattered most and I am so proud of them.”

A junior on the rise, Besett was clocked at 19:56.88 and just missed the cut as she finished 26th overall out of 115 runners.

Crossing with a time of 20:11.37, Vasiliauskas ran 31st overall with a superb performance. It was a great race in her final race as a Tiger.

“Like the boys, we only had one senior, Katie, in the top seven today and we bring back six girls from today’s squad,” pointed out Kmet.

Kmet talked of her four-year veteran.

“Katie (Vasiliauskas) has been a varsity stalwart all four years and her work ethic and dedication to the sport go unmatched,” stated Kmet. “She will be dearly missed but she plans to run collegiately and her future remains bright.”

Underclassmen like Besett dominated the lineup which gained great experience.

Sophomore Cordelia Firem finished 57th overall by turning in a time of 21:18.38.

Not far behind was tested junior Jessica Abrams, who was 63rd in 21:37.99.

Emma Sweeney made her post season debut and ran 65th in 21:39.59, followed by junior Ava Turner, who was 70th with a time of 21:52.67, and freshman Laura McClung ran 71st overall in her first district with a time of 21:54.08.

“Cordi, Ava and Lauren were a whole minute faster this week than last week,” pointed out Kmet.

In the boys standings, Cleveland St. Ignatius won the team crown by edging Kenston 47-53 while Mentor was third at 104 points, followed by Solon (110) and University School (139).

“Even though the team did not advance, I am really excited about this group’s future.” Kmet declared. “Our top six runners today return next year and gained valuable experience racing today.”

“Today was by far our best pack-running performance of the year,” explained Kmet.

Twinsburg had an incredible gap time of 20 seconds that separated their runners in Madison from the third spot on!

“Only twenty seconds separated Vince Sciarabba, our third runner, from Brian Nesic, our seventh runner,” noted Kmet.

Just a sophomore, Sciarabba raced to an 88th-place finish with a clocking of 18:19.86.

On Sciarabba’s heels were a trio of sophomores in Max Howard (18:25.96), Aiden Bennage (18:27.26), and Haridu Peiris (18:32.25) as they placed 89th, 91st and 96th overall, respectively.

“Personal bests today came from Sam, Max, Aiden Bennage and Haridu,” observed Kmet.

“Haridu dropped a massive PB, running a 50-second lifetime best,” said a jubilant Kmet. “Aiden Bennage also ran extremely well, dropping more than 30 seconds off of last week. Vince and Max were the epitome of consistency for us this year.”

Kmet will miss four-year standout Brian Nesic as the senior crossed in 18:39.00.

“Brian is our only senior in the top seven - he ran varsity for us all four years and we will miss his leadership next year,’ explained Kmet.

“I am so excited about this group moving forward - they have improved so much in the last year and next year I believe we will be a team to take notice of.”

Cain will have quite a challenge at the loaded Boardman Regional, but there’s nothing wrong with one more race in a fall campaign that has run up against adversity.