Sep. 19—BOARDMAN — As it is, the Spartan Invitational is a premier cross country event that pulls teams from all over Ohio. This includes many of Ashtabula County’s best runners.
For schools like Pymatuning Valley and Edgewood, these races are a chance to show just what each program has been working toward.
In the Division II girls team race, the Warriors finished sixth with 204 points. Edgewood freshman Maddie Crooks finished second in the event with a 19:52.9 out of 215 people while senior Caroline Nelson took 22nd with a 21:29.3.
“[Crooks] has had a great season so far. I’m just gonna keep moving her forward. She’s beyond her years in intelligence running out there,” Edgewood head coach Steve Hill said. “She was probably as far back as she has been all year — about 20th — but she just kept moving her way up, moving her way up. Got a couple challenges at the end and she just conquered them.
While the girls shined for Edgewood, the boys shined for Pymatuning Valley.
PV created the best opportunity of the day. With the Lakers homecoming dance happening Saturday, most of the runners wanted to participate in the invitational without ruining their chance to get ready. So PV competed in the Division I open race instead of the usual Division III boys and girls races.
“We did something a little different. We ran the Division I open race, which is a little unique for us,” Pymatuning Valley head coach Ricky Walters said. “My girls made it very clear to me, today is homecoming, so we ran a different race. I’d argue that the Division l race is better competition than the Division III race — nothing against the DIII race — it’s just they have 40 kids on their team, and that’s not including their varsity team.”
Despite tougher competition, PV found its way. Junior Mason Summers finished 23rd out of 329 racers with a time of 20:28.0 while Darrin Gruskiewcz finished 30th with time of 20:43.7, freshman Gavin Hodge finished 46th at 21:16.2 and sophomore Seth Bryan finished 48th with a 21:20.9.
“Usually the third mile is where I start to die out a little bit but I found the energy to surge that last mile. I felt pretty good today,” Summers said of his performance. “If we can go against these schools, then we can probably go to regionals.”
Walters also mentioned that this is probably his best top five runners he has had in his nine years coaching the program. He added that the competitive running from his boys might be a sign of a solid upcoming postseason.
Meanwhile, Hill was excited with two of his runners in the top-25 of a race with major competition from various schools throughout the state.
“We’re excited for the postseason. Even our number two, Caroline Nelson, is in the top 24. We use that as a gauge because when we are here come regionals, the top 24 make it to state,” Hill said. “I think she ran a great race too, and as a team, I think we were where we needed to be.”