CROSS COUNTRY Jen Wenhold is fifth at state
Her sister, Jess Wenhold, made giant strides from 64th to 14th place.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
COLUMBUS -- The question is not what could have been, but what could be.
Led by McDonald's sixth place finish in Saturday's girls state championship at Scioto Downs in Columbus, Youngstown-area cross country runners had several solid performances.
Next year could be spectacular.
With the exception of South Range senior Julie Nemergut and Lisbon senior Katrina Brickner, there were no seniors among the top area girls runners. McDonald junior Jen Wenhold ran 18:55 to take fifth place in Division III, the highest finish for an area runner, after finishing sixth the past two years,
"There are a lot more people running faster times this year, especially younger runners," said Wenhold. "I'm happy with my finish."
Sister Jess 14th: Wenhold's sister, Jess, who had gall bladder surgery last year, improved from 64th in 2000 to 14th this year, running 19:36. Nicole Booth took 29th (19:53), Erin Koppel was 103rd (21:26) and Genny Jerome was 120th (22:08) for the Blue Devils.
"Four of the five girls PR'd [set a personal record]," said McDonald coach Diane Krumpak. "We're just thankful to be at the state championship and we're real happy with a top 10 finish. We're excited about next year."
The Blue Devils will return their top seven runners, along with Natalie Morello, who missed most of the season with stress fractures in her legs.
Nemergut 11th: Nemergut finished 11th with a time of 19:27, which was a second faster than her time as a sophomore when she placed seventh.
"I'm a little disappointed," she said. "I would have been hurting if I didn't get on the podium. But I'm glad I could improve on my sophomore time and 11th is great."
The top 25 runners earn All-Ohio status and the top 15 make it to the podium.
Brickner 13th: Brickner took 13th with a time of 19:30. She just missed being All-Ohio last year when she finished 26th.
"This is better than I hoped for," Brickner said. "I just kept picking people off the whole race and I just had fun."
Spencerville senior Angela Homan was the individual champion, and Minster its second straight team championship with 87 points.
Davies 11th: West Branch junior Lisa Davies took 11th in Div. II, running 19:08, but was passed in the last 10 feet by two runners. Davies was fourth in the state last year.
"I didn't know they were that close," Davies said, but added she didn't know if it would have made a difference. "I was pretty whupped. It was a hard race but it was a fun race. I knew it would be tough."
West Branch junior Megan Cingcade was 22nd with a time of 19:31. Cingcade was 37th last year.
"I didn't have much left at the end," she said. "I wanted to be All-Ohio. That was my goal for the day."
Zajac 34th: Mooney junior Val Zajac took 34th with a time of 19:55. Zajac finished fifth in the state last year, but spent much of the season recovering from a fractured femur. Southeast senior Raina Keppler took 41st with a time of 20:03.
Regional champion Amy Arnold of CVCA was first with a time of 18:21 and Cleveland Heights won the team championship with 103 points.
In Div. I, Boardman sophomore Brittany Durkin took 69th in her first state appearance with a time of 19:52.
"I just wanted to get under 20 minutes," she said. "This gives me something to look forward to."
Lakewood's Michelle Sikes took first with a time of 17:49. Cincinnati Turpin won the team title with 77 points.