All season, the Westlake girls cross country team has proven to be at its strongest when running as a unit. Race results have proven that.
Led by the foursome of Sarah and Sydney Peer, Ellie Irwin and Stephanie Nivellini, the Demons have amassed a 14-0 record in races this year, beating opponents with a combination of quality times and a quantity of high placers crossing the finish line.
And though they didn’t place a runner in the top three individually last Saturday at the Southwestern Conference Championships at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, they still claimed four of the top 10 times and won the league trophy.
“They’ve got this ‘together’ theme,” Demons coach Travis Haselswerdt said of his roster. “They train together, they run together, they race together and then hopefully they win together. They bought into that this year.”
The league title was the Demons’ fifth in school history and snapped Avon’s two-year winning streak. The final team standings after Westlake (43 points) were Olmsted Falls (62), Avon (81), Avon Lake (122), North Olmsted (140), Amherst (154), North Ridgeville (174), Midview (178) and Berea-Midpark (212).
Individually, the Olmsted Falls duo of Katie Clute (18:50) and Lillie Katsaras (19:27.7) blew past the rest of the field to take the top two spots. Midview’s Audrey Sanzone finished third in 19:38. Then came the usual convoy of Demon standouts, pacing each other for most of the race. In order, Sarah Peer (19:42.9), Irwin (19:48.1), Nivellini (19:55.7) and Sydney Peer (20:13.5) recorded the next lowest times, ensuring the SWC championship would be making the trip back to Westlake.
North Ridgeville’s Madelyn Palcic (20:41.3) finished ninth, while Avon’s Maddie Harrington finished 10th (20:43.2). Avon Lake’s Maggie Jantz was 11th (20:47.6)
“We started running the race, and our coaches are so great, they told us to only have positivity,” Sarah Peer said. “The race started and we were going down the course, and our team was kind of split apart, then we joined together and we really pushed one another. Then I felt really good and just went after it, and I’m just really happy with the team...I’m glad they’re my teammates. It’s been a great year.”
In the boys race, Ty Perez (16:21.9) finished first individually, and Amherst (31 points) recorded four top-10 times to win the SWC crown. Avon Lake (63) finished second and Avon (68) took third.
Avon senior Jett Wieber (16:27.9) was able to keep close with Perez for much of the race, then attempted to speed up in its last 800 meters. He wasn’t able to overtake the Comets freshman, but was still happy with his performance.
“It was a great day to run out there,” Wieber said. “I felt good today. I felt fast and in control, focused. In these races you want to speed up a little bit toward the end, and that was my plan today. Today I just didn’t really have it, which is unfortunate because (speed’s) my strongest suit. But it was a close race and I’m happy with how it went.”
Top area individuals included Westlake’s K.J. Mueller (16:51.6, third), Avon Lake’s Matt Henry (17:07.1, fourth) and North Ridgeville’s Matthew Bowman (10th, 17:45.5). Rounding out the team standings were Westlake (124), North Ridgeville (134), Olmsted Falls (166), Berea-Midpark (180), North Olmsted (197) and Midview (217).
Last Saturday marked the final SWC race for both Westlake and North Olmsted, scheduled to move to the Great Lakes Conference next year. District races for all three of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s three divisions are set to take place at various locations this Saturday.
In a bit of an October surprise, the Rocky River boys team (54 points) knocked Bay (62) from the top spot in the standings in the Great Lakes Conference Championship, held at Cahoon Park. Will Warren (16:14.8) and Jude Ault (16:19.1) placed first and second, respectively, for the Rockets, but the Pirates claimed three of the top 10 spots, led by Luke Kishna (16:48.1, seventh), Greg Ganor (16:51, eighth) and Seth Williams (16:54.7, ninth).
Fairview (81) and Lakewood (96) took the next two spots in the team standings. The Warriors were led by a pair of strong placers in Ben Osborne (16:26.2, third) and Nolan Krumhansl (16:26.4, fourth). Rangers junior James O’Donnell (16:46.4) finished sixth.
Elyria Catholic (133), Buckeye (134), Normandy (147), Valley Forge (214) and Holy Name (229) rounded out the standings.
In a close race, the Rockets girls team outran the second-place Pirates 30-37. The two teams combined to take eight of the top 10 times. Lily Palisin of Fairview finished seventh (20:20.4) and Teeghan McGann of Lakewood placed 10th (20:36.4).
The Pirates had the top two finishers in Sam Coleman (19:44.4) and Carolyn Wanosik (19:52.8), while Brianna Chaves (20:21.8) and Alison Ritvo (20:40.1) finished eighth and 10th, respectively. The Rockets were led by the pack of Olivia Bird (20:03.6, third), Abbie Dent (20:04, fourth), Lexie Bechtel (20:07.5, fifth) and Molly Rodgers (20:16.1, sixth).
Lakewood scored 83 team points to finish third, followed by Buckeye (131), Holy Name (135), Fairview (140), Normandy (183), Elyria Catholic (220) and Valley Forge (288).
Madison Palmer (20:58.5) and Jessica Gower (21:30.4) finished second and third, respectively, and the Brookside Cardinals girls cross country team scored 34 points to finish second at last Saturday’s Lorain County League meet at Black River.
Cameron Haffner (23:49.5) finished eighth for the Cardinals, who finished just behind Keystone (24 points). Firelands (73) finished third. Columbia’s Madeleine Finton (20:35.9) took first place overall.
Cardinals seniors Michael Bilczo (18:51.4) and Braden Bonnett (18:53.3) took 12th and 14th in the boys race, respectively, and the boys team scored 97 points to finish fifth. Keystone won the title with a 28. Wildcats junior Stephen Faltay’s 17:16.4 was the top time.
Sam Silva (18:07.3) finished third overall and Elijah Van Farowe (18:28.6) finished ninth to pace the Lutheran West Longhorns boys cross country team as it claimed second place in the Valley Division at the Chagrin Valley Conference Championship meet at Upper Hawken School in Gates Mills last Saturday.
The Longhorns scored 83 points, trailing only Berkshire (65) in the seven-team field.
The Longhorn girls team also placed second in their Valley Division race, scoring 58 points. Kirtland won the meet with 27. Madi Kiraly (23:42.8) and Kellie Roach (23:46.9) finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
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