Avon won the Division II girls meet at Saturday’s Wadsworth Grizzly Invitational. Avon finished with 38 points, beating out Aurora (48) and Smithville (96) in a seven-team field.
Freshman Kayla Welch (third, 20:57) and sophomore Erin Schneider (fourth, 20:58) led the Eagles. Mallory Balmert (eighth, 21:59), Emily Michelich (ninth, 22:03) and Liz Bruno (14th, 22:35) rounded out the top five.
Junior Andy Ventura (third, 17:42) led the Avon boys to a fourth-place finish in the Division II boys race. The Eagles had 96 points, finishing behind Aurora (41), Willard (57) and Painesville Harvey (65). Tyler Kvach (17th, 18:38), Tommy Kvach (22nd, 18:59), Tim Gibson (26th, 19:09) and Fred Turkington (28th, 19:26) rounded out the top five.
“This weekend was a great weekend for both teams,” Avon coach Tara Gruskiewicz said. “But I think one of our best meets this season was the Jackson invite in Michigan. Since we were an out-of-state team, we didn’t know any of the other teams or runners. I told the kids to just race … don’t worry about times just race. They did just that and I think 12 out of the 14 kids who ran at the meet ran their personal-best times.”
Ventura won the Open Door invite earlier this season in 17:38. He’s has been the boys team’s No. 1 runner all season.
“The boys team has made huge progress,” Gruskiewicz said. “At this time last year, I was just excited to get one or two kids to break 19 minutes and was excited when the top five finally broke 20 minutes. They’ve come a long way.”
The Avon girls team qualified to regionals last fall for the first time since 1989. The boys team is looking for its first regional berth in 10 years.
North Olmsted 6th at Wadsworth meet
The North Olmsted girls were sixth out of 16 Division I teams at Wadsworth. Only 36 seconds separated the Eagles’ top five runners.
Sophomore Jordan Sowecke led the way (23rd, 20:46). Senior Andria Bazilevich (27th, 20:51), senior Nicole Georgalis (34th, 21:03), sophomore Vanessa Gut (36th, 21:17) and sophomore Alex Goots (38th, 21:22) made up the Eagles’ top five.
“Jordan is finally showing the runner we know she is both at practices and at this meet,” said North Olmsted girls coach Lisa Pochatek. “Andria, Nicole, Vanessa and Alex had great races. Kara is struggling a little, but I have confidence that she’ll be where she should be when the big races come. She’s an incredible athlete and has such determination and strength. It’ll happen for her.”
Pochatek was recently named head varsity girls track coach for North Olmsted, replacing longtime veteran Bill Andrews, who retired.
Dan Bullard (sixth, 16:55) and Alex Kearney (11th, 17:06) led the North Olmsted boys team, which finished ninth out of 17 teams. Josh Allen (45th, 17:54), Jake Steiger (54th, 18:06) and George Andrews (60th, 18:13) rounded out the top five.
Rough footing at Gilmour Invite
Course conditions made for a rough afternoon at Friday’s Gilmour Invitational. Avon Lake, Columbia and local runners from Magnificat were the area teams.
Race management altered the course to a new, two-loop course because of the $10,000 worth of damage the mud caused at last year’s event.
The starting line was the same but then followed straight back into the woods for 800 meters with a new, soft path covered in small, smooth and rounded pebbles, which caused feet to slip and sink at the same time. There was 150 meters of ground-up and chunky asphalt, then 120 meters of regular asphalt entering and exiting the wooded part of the course.
It made for very slow and uneven footing for approximately two miles.
Magnificat (34) won the Division I girls race, beating out Solon (49) and Hudson (94). Avon Lake (193) was sixth of 15 teams.
Madeline Chambers of Westlake (third, 20:13) and Alex Helfrich of Grafton (seventh, 20:49) led Magnificat, the No. 1-ranked team in the state coaches poll.
Katie Adams (29th, 21:56), Miranda Weed (37th, 22:11), Selena Ventura (40th, 22:32), Alyssa Molnar (43rd, 22:49) and Julie Hardgrove (44th, 22:53) comprised the Shoregals’ top five.
Matt Link (20th, 18:08), Mike Parsons (36th, 18:35), Adam Robertson (42nd, 18:46), Jimmy Adams (44th, 18:53) and Justin Housley (45th, 18:56) made up the Avon Lake boys’ top five. Mentor (46) won the meet, followed by St. Ignatius (53), St. Edward (116), Cleveland Heights (151), Tallmadge (172) and the Shoremen (187).
In Division II, Liz Bailey (39th, 22:52) and Becky Lehane (55th, 23:57) led the Columbia girls, who finished 17th of 19 teams.
It was Bailey’s first race in two weeks. The Columbia senior suffered a slight concussion on Sept. 22 in a cycling accident near her home, according to head coach Dan Danilovec.
Tim Brophy (92nd, 21:33) and Ricky Wake (102nd, 22:57) led the Columbia boys, who finished 17th.
In other action, the Amherst girls team (154) finished fourth out of 19 teams on Saturday at the Oregon Clay Invitational at Pearson Park. Toledo Notre Dame (75), Sylvania Southview (81) and Bedford (Mich.) (141) grabbed the top three spots.
Jane Lehman (19th, 20:40) led the way for the Comets, followed by Michele Molnar (23rd, 20:48), Erica Kelly (33rd, 20:58), Kasey Schuler (39th, 21:04) and Jessica Bartholomew (40th, 21:11).
Feeder program key for Comets
It’s no mystery that the varsity program at Amherst is on the rise. Its middle school program, which has 74 boys and girls, is enjoying enormous success. The boys team has an 84-0 record and the girls are 83-10 in invitationals this season.
“They won Tiffin by 56 points (41 teams) Cloverleaf by 54 points (14 teams) and Vermilion by 44 points (21 teams),” said coach Rob Glatz. “Saturday, we placed five out of the top six at Vermilion for 18 points.”
A 1997 Amherst graduate, Glatz has coached the middle school cross country program since 2002. He’s also entering his third year as head varsity track coach.
“These kids are extremely focused and work very hard on our workout days, but we have lots of fun on our easy days,” Glatz said. “The total number of kids back in 2002 was less than 20. I had to recruit just to get five girls on the team so we could compete in the team races.
“Now we have 74 kids out for the team with a $400 pay-to-participate fee. Last year my wife, Jess, started coaching with me. We consider these kids part of our family.”