Lisa Davies of West Branch ran inside instead of outside the soccer goal, and took second in the Division II race in 19:28.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- You wouldn't know it by looking at her, but West Branch junior Lisa Davies is a pretty rebellious girl.
She seems too small to compete with the best runners in Division II. She seems too light to be able to withstand the rigors of a cross country season. When you meet her, you expect her to be shy and timid.
But Davies can't be fit into a box. At least not metaphorically.
The Warrior junior finished second with a time of 19 minutes, 28 seconds at Saturday's Spartan Invitational at Boardman High School.
"The beginning was hard because when I came out, I was a little boxed in and I got a bad start," said Davies, who finished 33 seconds behind Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy's Amy Arnold. "I had to catch up."
Tough start: Davies doesn't usually start well anyway, but had an extra disadvantage Saturday. West Branch was placed at the edge of the starting line, and the team was told to run around a soccer goal before rejoining the pack.
Davies would have none of it.
"I ran inside it," said Davies, who finished fourth in the state meet last year. "That would have been a big disadvantage."
Schools are lined up in alphabetical order, which is why West Branch was on the fringe.
"I want to go to Alliance next year," Davies quipped.
Davies' teammate, Megan Cingcade finished fifth (20:01) as the Warriors finished 15th out of 40 schools. Girard finished 10th and Mooney finished 11th in Div. II to lead the area teams.
Recovering: Mooney senior Val Zajac, who won the regional at Boardman last year and finished fifth in the state, still is recovering from a stress fracture in her femur she injured during track season. She finished 16th at 20:43.
"It's getting better," Zajac said, who couldn't run for five months before resuming in mid-July. "I'm just happy to be running again; I really missed it. The hardest part is getting my lungs used to it again."
For now, Zajac is trying to help Mooney advance to state for the first time in school history. She doesn't pout. She doesn't talk about what might have been, even though she beat many of these runners last season.
"I'm trying to stay positive," she said. "I just want to help our team and I'm hoping to get better every race."
Eastwood placed first with 106 points, followed by Carrollton (140) and CVCA (145).
Division III: McDonald's Jen Wenhold took second with a time of 19:42, to lead the Blue Devils to fourth place with 115 points. Western Reserve Academy's Suzanne Andrews was first a time of 19:42. Jess Wenhold finished eighth (20:46) and Nicole Booth finished 26th (21:58) for McDonald.
"The first girl [Andrews] pushed me a lot harder," said Wenhold, who placed sixth at state last year. "I'm starting to run better and I just want to improve my time."
Julie Nemergut, whose sister Kim won this race last year, finished fifth (20:07) to lead South Range to a fifth place finish (124). Nemergut placed fifth at this meet last year, but ran 24 seconds faster on Saturday.
"I've had to learn to do it on my own," Nemergut said. "I always followed my sister, even in practice. But it's fun being a senior since this is your last race of everything."
Nemergut nearly overtook Gilmour's Andrea Pinchak, who finished fourth.
"I out-sprinted that girl last week; I guess she knew I was coming this time," Nemergut said. "That's fine. I don't have much speed. I didn't get her this time but I'll have another chance."
Erin Daugherty finished 15th (21:37) to lead Maplewood to a 10th place finish. Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas took first overall with 69 points, followed by Pymatuning Valley (105) and Western Reserve Academy (112).
Division I: Kaitlin Kempe placed 29th (20:43) and Elaine Reedy ran 44th (21:09), to lead Fitch to a 16th place finish out of 40 teams in Division I.
Massillon Jackson took first with 62 points, followed by Medina (161) and Strongsville (165). Strongsville's Kelly Ardelean finished first overall.
Brittany Durkin was 44th (20:59) as Boardman finished 17th. Canfield's Kristen Piersante placed 47th (21:13) as the Cardinals finished 20th.