Andy Ventura finally zoned in cross country. He’s zeroed in.
Torn between multiple sports like many high school athletes, Ventura knuckled down and focused exclusively on cross country this fall. In the past, the Avon junior bounced back-and-forth between club hockey and running.
His commitment to cross country paid off.
Ventura clocked a time of 17 minutes, 12 seconds, a personal best, at Saturday’s West Shore Conference meet at Cahoon Park, finishing fourth. He obliterated his previous best time by 26 seconds.
“You could tell Andy was focused,” said Avon coach Tara Gruskiewicz. “He knew what his race plan was and he was committed to it. You could tell it by the look in his eyes.”
Last year, Ventura finished only 28th in 19:18 at last year’s WSC meet, which was held at Lorain County Community College.
“In the past, Andy has never really run well at conference,” said Avon coach Tara Gruskiewicz. “This summer, Andy and the rest of the runners on the boys team decided to train. In the past, only the girls team would show up for summer workouts.”
Andy’s dad, Rick, is head boys cross country coach at Lakewood. And, like Andy, Rick enjoyed playing hockey at St. Edward High School.
“Yeah, it kind of drove my dad crazy doing hockey the same time as cross country and track,” said Ventura. “I just decided to focus exclusively on my running to see what I could do.”
There was fire in Ventura’s eyes Saturday at Cahoon Park.
Ventura started back around 15th after the first half-mile, then slowly picked off the leaders.
“Tara told me that I looked strong when I passed by her at the mile mark,” said
It’s not like Ventura hadn’t run well all season. He won the Open Door Invitational in 17:48 and ran 17:42 a week ago at the Wadsworth Grizzly Invitational.
The difference in Ventura’s approach reflects the team’s training program this season.
“We’re averaging about
37-42 miles per week,” said Gruskiewicz. “With the basework the boys team did over the summer, we’re able to train with a lot more intensity with their speedwork.”
Ventura hasn’t totally forsaken hockey. Only his in-season training commitment has changed. He plans to rejoin his club team for this winter.
Two for Midview
Midview had two all-conference runners for the first time in the three-year history of the WSC meet. Senior Dave Siefker and junior Jordan Stephenson both finished in the top 14.
Siefker was All-WSC for the second straight year, taking sixth in 17:35. Last year, he was ninth in 19:07 at LCCC. His brother, Justin, was the 2004 Lorain County Conference champ and helped the Middies win the LCC that season.
Stephenson, an Elyria High transfer, was 13th in 18:07. Both runners finished in the top 10 at the WSC Preview on Aug. 25.
“It was nice to see Dave and Jordan do well,” said Midview coach Mike Guildoo. “I can’t really call it a surprise since they both have been working hard. Jordan is coming back from a hamstring injury, which has hurt him all season. Conference was his first race after a week off. He should be faster for the district meet
Talk about the heat
It was hotter for the West Shore meet Oct. 6 at 85 degrees than it was for the WSC Preview on Aug. 25, when it was 78 degrees.
District start times
The start times for the Elyria District meet Oct. 20 at Lorain County Community College are 1:05 — Girls Division II; 1:50 — Girls Division I; 2:35 — Boys Division II and 3:20 — Boys
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