Stow's Macura and Atkinson reach state cross country meet
It's a case of "Mission accomplished" for both a senior captain and a freshman phenom on the Stow-Munroe Falls cross country team.
Senior Seth Macura and freshman Jayla Atkinson each earned their first berth at the state cross country meet, thanks to a pair of solid performances at the Division I regional meet at Boardman Oct. 31.
The top eight teams and top 32 individual finishers at Boardman at advanced to the state meet.
It was a case of joy and pain for the Stow girls at Boardman. While Atkinson qualified, Stow finished ninth in the team race with 252 points, just six points behind Wadsworth (246) in the final qualifying spot. Hudson won the Division I girls title with 143 points.
"It was a killer," said Stow girls coach Aaron Morris. "The good news is we've got all of our scoring runners back for next year."
Morris noted the Bulldog girls should have a "states or bust" mentality next season.
Meanwhile, the Bulldog boys finished 11th in the Division I race with 290 points. Hudson won the title with 116 points, while Solon took the final qualifying spot with 253 points.
"It was a little worse than what we projected we should be," said Stow boys coach JK LeSeure. "As a whole we ran pretty well, but we had one guy not run so well. The flip side of it is we were 20th last year at Boardman. It's still a huge step forward."
Regarding Atkinson's run, Morris said his freshman did what she needed to do. Atkinson finished fourth in a time of 19:43.9, as she was slowed by the course at Boardman
"She put herself up with the leaders and held on for most of the race," Morris said.
That said, the regional meet marked the first time Atkinson didn't finish first in a race in her high school career.
"I wouldn't say she was upset," Morris said. "We told her, at every level, she was going to run into more girls that could run up front. She held her own. Once it set in that she's still going to states, she was pretty happy."
As usual, the course at Boardman was not conducive to running fast times.
"I've seen it a lot worse. It was soft," Morris said. "There were some places that were a complete disaster. It was definitely strategic."
Morris had hoped junior Kendra Cassidy could join Atkinson at states, but Cassidy finished 40th in time of 20:56.8.
"She wasn't too far off," Morris said. "She had a good race. She had a nice season."
Morris lauded junior Andrea Perrotta, who got a late start to the season due to injury, but came home as Stow's No. 3 runner. Perrotta finished 63rd in 21:15.4.
Freshman Deena Ingrassia (86th, 21:39.3) and junior Samantha Fobean (91st, 21:42.5) rounded out the scoring runs for Stow. Sophomore Josie Jones (109th, 22:01.8) and senior Ashley Hutchinson (111st, 22:02.9) also competed at Boardman.
The Division I girls state race was set for 4 p.m. Nov. 7 at the new course at Fortress Obetz. Morris is hoping for a big first state meet from Atkinson
"I'm certain she will put herself up with the lead pack," Morris said. "I believe she can be top 20. She's run with and beaten girls ranked that high before."
Meanwhile, Macura advanced to states by finishing in 13th place at Boardman in a time of 17:08.3
"We figured he had a very good shot," LeSeure said. "He pretty much finished exactly where we had him project."
LeSeure noted Macura's preformance was even more impressive, given that he was unable to follow his usual race strategy of running with the leaders early.
"That was a probably the best strategic race he's ever run," LeSeure said. "Histtorically, if he doesn't get out fast, he's in trouble. He ran a very mature race."
The Division I boys state meet was set for 3 p.m. Nov. 3 at Fortress Obetz.
"It's been a goal the entire season from the start [to reach states]," LeSeure said. "I think he's going to go down there and give a good showing."
Elsewhere at Boardman, sophomore Micah Bentley was Stow's No. 2 runner as he finished 54th in 17:43.1. Fellow sophomore Connor Scarberry, who LeSeure noted has made huge strides this year, came in 76th in 17:57.1.
"Obviously, we'll miss Seth next year, but Conner and Micah are going to be strong for us," LeSeure said.
Junior Zach Duffy (88th, 18:04.4) and sophomore Zach Shawala (117th, 18:21.5) rounded out the scoring runs for Stow. Senior Henry Brosch (151st, 18:56.2) and junior Luke Cimera (177th, 19:30.5) also competed for the Bulldogs at Boardman.
LeSeure said the Bulldogs should have a solid squad in 2021
"We lose a lot of depth, but we have a lot of very good eighth graders coming up," LeSeure said.