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Solon, Gilmour make run into districts
Solon, Gilmour make run into districts
By STEVE NOVAK
There is no off-track wagering in the State of Ohio for cross-country. But it there were, it would be likely that two area schools would have a few bets posted on them for the postseason meets.
One of the teams is Solon. Through the 2008 regular season, the Comets' boys' and girls' teams have made their presence felt in meets with some of the top running schools in Northeast Ohio.
The Solon boys' team was ranked ninth in the most recent coaches poll for Division I schools. The girls' team was ranked 21st in Division I schools in the same poll.
The second area team is Gilmour Academy. The Lancers' girls'team is ranked fourth among Division III schools. Just one look at their roster would go a long way toward explaining this ranking.
This year's Gilmour team still has six of the seven top finishers from the 2007 team that finished second in the Division III state meet.
In competition with other Division I schools during this season, the Solon boys' team placed first in meets, including the Walsh Jesuit Tomahawk Run, Glen Oak and the Mentor Invitational. One of the team's top finishers through the year has been Jeremy Schiele.
"He was second at Glen Oak, second at Mentor and second at Tomahawk," Solon head coach Steve Cerne said. "He's one of the best runners in the area who hasn't finished first."
Cerne also said the team's good showings in meets throughout the season has translated to the self-assurance that's needed in post-season.
"It's not only momentum," he said. "They're confident. They know about the miles they put in this summer. They know they'll be able to push themselves, and let the mental half of the sport come into play."
Solon finished runner-up in the Valley Division at the league meet Saturday. Connor Paez, Pat Burns, Matt Fakler, Dan Corrigan, Josh Sperling, Alex Chaitoff and Schiele had 52 points to finish behind Medina, which had 30 points. Schiele was third overall in 15:58.86 and Paez was sixth in 16:09.22. Buurns was 12th, Fakler 13th and Corrigan 18th over the 5-K course at Strongsville High School.
Jackie Fejes, the Solon girls'coach, said her team definitely has momentum going into the post-season. The girls have four team wins in meets and last weekend posted a third-place finish in the Northeast Ohio Conference meet with 75 points. First-place Medina had 50 points, followed by Hudson with 58.
During the NOC meet, senior Rachel Kalayjian posted the best time of her career. She crossed the tape in 19:39, which was good for sixth place overall, and earned her all-conference honors.
Two teammates also finished in the top 15 with personal bests, which gained them all-conference honors. Junior Brooke Simpson was 12th in 19:59 and Claire Wieczorek was 14th in 20:09. Allison Jaffe was 20th in 20:25, Kelsey Aamoth 23rd in 20:31,Hillary Wilson 28th in 20:39 and Anna Faklar 29th in 20:41.
Fejes said there's a lot of team spirit shared by this group of runners.
"They're really a close team," she said. "They have a good bond going between them. They really have been competing hard lately. The girls were all over the course yesterday, cheering each other on."
Fejes also said she considers herself fortunate because she will only lose two of her top runners next June because of graduation. Not only does she have several junior runners who have been performing well, but there's even a freshman, Aamoth, who has been running in the varsity meets this season.
The Solon boys' and girls' teams will take part in the first rung of post-season racing Saturday in the Division I district meet at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland.
As for Gilmour, head coach Matt Lindley has the good fortune of losing only one of his top seven runners from last year's team. The top finishers at the state meet last year -- Rebekka Simko, Melanie Frank and Natalie King -- are all back. Another top runner this year for the Lancers has been freshman Rachel Staton.
"The girls' team has won the district and the regional the last three years in a row," Lindley said. "We should be able to win the district. All of them can go faster than they've gone so far. I think we'll be in the hunt, with six out of seven girls back from last year."
"For Melanie Frank and Patricia King, this will be their fourth year of competing at a state level," he said. "It such a boost for something like that. It allows you to be more relaxed and focused.'
As for the Gilmour boys team, Lindley also has hopes for them. Although they don't have the state ranking that the girls' team has, Lindley said he has already set a goal for the boys' squad when they go to district Saturday.
"The boys are looking to reclaim the district crown," he said. "They won it in 2006, but not last year. We definitely can do that again. They're strong runners and they're excellent in pack running.
"then we get to the Boardman regional, and that's one of the toughest around," Lindley said. "But we have a chance there, but we're going to take it one week at a time."
Gilmour runs in the Division III district Saturday at Edgewater Park in Cleveland.
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