Niles runner sets the pace
By BOB ETTINGER
Competition will always push a runner to move faster through a cross country course. Competition is in the nature of the beast, after all. Once Niles’ Hailey Zelinsky pulled away from the pack in Saturday’s Niles Cross Country Invitational, she pushed herself in chasing the four-wheeler leading the runners through Stevens Park until she got so far in front of the crowd, the ATV backtracked to lead the rest of the runners.
Zelinsky finished in 19:52 topping runner-up Katie Stinson of Hubbard by 2:41.
“I didn’t expect to be under 20 [minutes],” Zelinsky said. “I wanted it, but I didn’t know what the competition would be like. I just wanted to go out and run my best race. I tried to stick with the four-wheeler, but once it went away, I just tried to push as hard as I could.”
“I was happy with [my race],” Stinson said. “It’s hard to see someone that far ahead, but it was good. I liked that race. I just really wanted to improve my time today.”
Vinny Mauri of Howland did his absolute best to duplicate Zelinsky’s feat in claiming the top spot when the boys took to the course. He won by a margin of more than a minute as Louis Larney of Girard took second. Official times were not available in the boys event because of a glitch in the timing gear.
“It was an ordinary day for me,” Mauri said. “I woke up with a stiff neck and could barely get out. I was running for my team today. I’m pretty happy. It looks like the team did pretty well.”
Larney said, “I’m very happy with my race. I was going up every second. I wasn’t at the same pace. I was just passing people.”
Girard edged Conneaut, 44-41, to take the girls title. Niles was third with 59 and Lowellville was fourth at 85.
Sarah Ryser was fourth in 22:59 to lead the Indians. Following her were Maddie Stears (7th, 23:11), Ellie Maurice (8th, 23:26), Layla Forestal (16th, 25:24) and Viola McClimans (17th, 25:37).
Tori Shubitowski was fifth in 23:07 to pace Conneaut and Caytlin Stewart was two seconds behind in sixth. Sierra Taylor was 12th, Samantha Maenpaa was 21st and Merissa Kligge was 24th.
Jefferson laid claim to the championship in the boys race in putting three runners in the top five to tally 35 points.
Jason Mayes was third, Richard Price was fourth and Travis Brandt was sixth (fifth in terms of team points) for the Falcons. Nick Diehl and Matt Stevens were 11th and 12th, respectively, in terms of the team race.
Howland put three in the top 10 and placed second with 44 points.
“We knew Jefferson was good coming in,” Howland coach Dan Libert said. “We’re missing one of our top kids. We knew it would be a tough way to go.
“We have a lot of young kids and we’re still in transition. We expect big things in the future but there will be a lot of learning and growing pains along the way.
“As a coach, you always look for something more. We have nine freshmen. They’re a great bunch of kids. They help each other.”
Behind Mauri for the Tigers were Brandon Gregory (7th), Angelo Mauri (9th), William Eisen (10th) and Zachary Brill (17th).
Niles was third with 56, Conneaut took fourth with 114, Girard was fifth with 129 and Hubbard was sixth with 155.
Lowellville’s Maddie Warren was third in 22:42 in the girls race and Gianni Giarrano of Ravenna placed fifth in the boys race.