ELYRIA — It was to the beat of different drummers, but the Avon Lake boys continued their dominance. The Shoremen won their fourth straight title and fifth overall at Saturday’s 47th annual boys and 36th annual girls Southwestern Conference cross country championships at Lorain County Community College.
A distant second 30 points behind Amherst at the conference preview Aug. 25, Avon Lake was the class of the field. Coach Rob Juergens’ team had three runners in the top nine and five total among the first 16 finishers.
Avon Lake finished with 50 points, outdistancing Brecksville (79) and Amherst (83).
Junior Devin Arora (sixth, 17:09.4), senior Tommy Parsons (eighth, 17:14.9) and junior Tim Villari (ninth, 17:20.3) led Avon Lake. Junior James Darkow (11th, 17:39.8) and sophomore Trent Glasser (16th, 17:56.7) rounded out the top five for the Shoremen.
“It was a little bit of pressure but we worked hard to overcome it,” Arora said. “Today’s performance means we did our part as a class, as a team, to satisfy the team’s record the last four years. It was about living up to the tradition.
“We don’t want to leave the impression after graduating our top runners that we’re a weaker team. It’s always about stepping up. It’s teaching the underclass to do better. They’re going to fill in, hopefully as well as we did today.”
Avon Lake is only the second SWC boys team to win at least four consecutive conference meets. Bay was the only other team to turn the trick when it set the record of 12 straight between 1970-81.
“They’re motivated,” Juergens said. “They want to do well and they know it’s going to be close. The team identity has changed a lot since last year. You have that roll and kids want to be a part of it. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
Only three of this year’s Shoremen varsity ran for last year’s SWC title team. Parsons is in his third year on varsity. The other two are Arora and Nick Nix, who only made varsity toward the end of last year.
Parsons was the No. 4 runner at last year’s SWC meet, Nix No. 6 and Arora No. 7.
Sophomore Alexis Szivan (19:53.3), senior Cassie Vince (20:00.5) and senior Emily Johnson (20:17.7) achieved a rare feat as they finished 1-2-3 overall to lead the way for the Amherst girls.
It’s just the third time since 1977 that an SWC girls team put the first three finishers across the line.
Brecksville last did it in 2006. The other time was when Amherst put the first five runners across in 1991, the same year it won the Div. I state title.
“Our coach (Terry Kemp) said that if we were doing what we needed to that we would be hurting from the beginning of the race until the end of the race,” Vince said. “It did, so I knew that we were going to do well. We were hoping to go 1-2-3 all year. We’re so proud. We weren’t expecting it for this race but Emily made sure she got up there.
“We want to be ready for districts. Everything before is just a scrimmage. Now it’s for real.”
“We pushed each other the second mile because the second mile is hardest mile of the race,” said Szivan, the Amherst girls’ first SWC champ since Brittnee Barris in 2001. “We were there for each other.”
“We finally came together and did what we needed to,” said Johnson. “We just need to focus narrowing our gaps for next week.”
Overall, Amherst finished second to Brecksville, 50-71. It was the Bees’ eighth straight title since joining the SWC in 2005-06. Freshman Megan Parker (31st, 22:28.1) and senior Halie Vilagi (34th, 22:31.4) rounded out Amherst’s top five.
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Avon Lake, 50; 2. Brecksville, 79; 3. Amherst, 83; 4. Midpark, 97; 5. Berea, 97; 6. North Olmsted, 112; 7. Westlake, 163; 8. Olmsted Falls, 189
1. Dan Zupan (Berea), 16:33.7; 2. Lou Styles (Midpark), 16:40.1; 3. Josh Park (Amherst), 16:54.4; 4. Zach Kozik (North Olmsted), 17:06.2; 5. Nick Perozeni (Brecksville), 17:08.5
Other local finishers: 6. Devin Arora (AL), 17:09.4; 8. Tommy Parsons (AL), 17:14.9; 9. Tim Villari (AL), 17:20.3; 10. Joey Colon (AM), 17:20.6; 11. James Darkow (AL), 17:39.8; 16. Trent Glasser (AL), 17:56.7; 17. Andre DelValle (AM), 17:57.5; 18. Evan Sergent (AM), 17:59.5; 23. Nick Nix (AL), 18:05.0; 28. Riley Jantz (AL), 18:22.9; 35. Kevin Burgett (AM), 18:43.2; 43. Jordan Reynolds (AM), 18:58.9; 51. Mike Kardos (AM), 19:30.2
1. Brecksville, 50; 2. Amherst, 71; 3. North Olmsted, 85; 4. Avon Lake, 98; 5. Westlake, 107; 6. Olmsted Falls, 121; 7. Berea, 198; 8. Midpark, 240
1. Alexis Szivan (Amherst), 19:53.3; 2. Cassie Vince (Amherst), 20:00.5; 3. Emily Johnson (Amherst), 20:17.7; 4. Olivia Cook (Brecksville), 20:21.0; 5. Emily Johr (North Olmsted), 20:24.7
Other local finishers: 6. Allie Spensley (AL), 20:32.3; 18. Julia Jantz (AL), 21:16.1; 21. Annie Wennerberg (AL), 21:30.7; 26. Audrey Spensley (AL), 21:56.3; 26. Jessica Lambert (AL), 22:00.8; 31. Megan Parker (AM), 22:28.1; 34. Halie Vilagi (AM), 22:31.4; 35. Lauren Sturgeon (AM), 22:44.0; 38. Megan Beal (AM), 22:52.9; 45. Marisa Gerrrone (AL), 23:44.7