December 19, 2014

Elyria
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High school cross country: Second not satisfying to Black River’s Gus Kazek at Firestone Invitational

SULLIVAN TWP. — Gus Kazek hoped to join an elite class of Black River High School runners who have won the J.B. Firestone Invitational.

Medina Highland’s Cole Vandenberg had other plans.

Vandenberg pulled away midway through the race after the two seniors bumped elbows in a wooded section of the course. The Hornets runner clocked 16 minutes, 37.41 seconds — the fastest winning time on the course in more than four years.

Kazek took second in 16:59.97, his fastest time on the course by more than 12 seconds.

“A lot of pushing went on in the woods so I had to burn it for a little bit,” Vandenberg said. “I thought he was going to come back so I tried working it as hard as I could. There were a lot of people cheering for him. He’s a very good runner.”

Kazek thought he got the worst of the jostling, however.

“In the first mile and a half we were in the woods and he elbowed me with his right elbow right in the chest. I couldn’t breathe the rest of the race,” said Kazek, who is about 3-4 inches shorter than Vandenberg.

Last year, Highland’s Stuart Arbuckle (17:04) defeated Kazek (17:12) for the Firestone title. Vandenberg was seventh in 17:58. A senior, Arbuckle finished fifth (17:16.71) this time around.

“I’m definitely upset about not getting the win,” said Kazek, a 2010 state qualifier. “It’s my last year. It’s my home course. All the good runners that have run here (for Black River) have won this: Dave Kindall, Robert Altenburger, Alex Ross and Justin Ross. They all won it their senior year. I’m kind of upset that I didn’t follow the tradition. Kindall was counting on me to win it.”

Elyria sophomore James Hawks finished third (17:09.33) with Firelands senior Brady Jeffers fourth (17:14.82). Last year, Jeffers was fourth (17:28) and Hawks eighth (17:53).

“I tried catching him (Vandenberg), but I couldn’t breathe after he elbowed me,” Kazek said.

Kazek, Jeffers and Arbuckle went through the mile mark together in 5:06, but then Vandenberg pulled away as Jeffers and Arbuckle faded.

Kazek and Jeffers talked about going 1-2, but those plans fell apart.

The Highland boys were the class of the field, winning for the third straight year by defeating Akron Firestone 77-99 in the 12-team field. Firelands (122), Elyria (125) and Clearview (128) were the top Lorain County boys teams, finishing fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

“We have a lot of freshmen and sophomore runners,” Hawks said. “There’s a lot of young talent. We’re going to be a team to look out for the next few years.”

The Highland girls also won for the third year in a row, edging Westlake 30-32 in a nine-team field.

Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

BOYS

TEAM SCORES: 1. Medina Highland (MH), 77; 2. Akron Firestone, 99; 3. Fairview, 102; 4. Firelands (FI), 122; 4. Elyria (E), 125; 6. Clearview (CL), 128; 7. Black River (BR), 156; 8. Vermilion (V), 202; 9. Doylestown Chippewa, 205; 10. Brookside (B), 229; 11. Mansfield Madison, 291; 12. Oberlin, 340

Individual results

TOP 5: 1. Cole Vandenberg (MH), 16:37.41; 2. Gus Kazek (BR), 16:59.97; 3. James Hawks (E), 17:09.33; 4. Brady Jeffers (FI), 17:14.82; 5. Stuart Arbuckle (MH), 17:16.71

OTHER TOP LOCAL FINISHERS: 6. Mike Hollingsworth (CL), 17:49.49; 9. Ben Safer (V), 18:08.73; 13. Brennan Crawford (FI), 18:14.85; 14. Triston Hornbeck (BR), 18:15.30; 15. Matt Hollingsworth (CL), 18:18.09; 17. Creighton Jensen (B), 18:23.12; 22. Mike Adkins (FI), 18:38.57; 23. Shawn Jackson-Evans (E), 18:42.76; 24. Jake Chizmar (E), 18:45.68; 25. Ryley Miller (V), 18:57.59); 29. Cullen Grude (FI), 19:06.28; 31. Noah Parsons (CL), 19:13.89; 33. Nick Ferancy (E), 19:23.42; 36. Shane Horstmann (CL), 19:28.64; 38. Lenny Eiermann (B), 19:32.69; 39. Tanner Hawley (BR), 19:33.82; 40. Jacob Corcino (CL), 19:36.63; 42. Kevin Tallarino (E), 19:37.90; 47. Nick Brennenman (B), 19:53.85; 48. Dan March (E), 19:54.96; 49. Ryan Bryner (E), 20:00.29. Out of 151 runners.

Girls

TEAM SCORES: 1. Medina Highland, 30; 2. Westlake, 32; 3. Elyria, 132; 4. Fairview, 143; 5. Keystone (K), 145; 6. Akron Firestone, 155; 7. Brookside, 171; 8. Vermilion, 183; 9. Firelands, 201. Black River, Mansfield Madison and Wellington had incomplete teams.

Individual results

TOP 5: 1. Nicole Hadler (MH), 20:06.98; 2. Carlee Rhodes (MH), 20:16.42; 3. Robyn Hageman (W), 21:05.80; 4. Morgan Hansen (W), 21:13.86; 5. Sarah Baker (MM), 21:20.83.

TOP LOCAL FINISHERS: 8. Shannon Wargo (K), 21:33.73; 11. Tasha Miller (E), 21:55.06; 20. Hannah Cebull (V), 23:06.96; 21. Ashley Olszewski (E), 23:10.16; 24. Tori Hritsko (FI), 23:13.66; 28. Katy Ackerman (B), 23:37.49; 29. Tina Ficociello (K), 23:38.44; 33. Ashley Martin (Wellington), 23:54.75; 36. Julia Plumb (E), 24:08.54; 46. Amber Fetter (V), 24:47.14; 52. Savannah Pliszka (B), 25:00.51; 53. Abbey Skolnik (FI), 25:01.53; 55. Emilee Gil (B), 25:05.30; 57. Savannah King (E), 25:15.79; 66. Emma Northeim (FI), 25:43.88; 67. Jocelyn Miller (B), 25:45.49; 68. Morgan McNulty (K), 25:51.36; 69. Kelsey Kaurich (CL), 25:57.78. Out of 126 runners.